A flurry of unsubstantiated rumors that Vice President George Bush had a long-term affair drew an angry retort Monday from Bush's campaign spokeswoman and an allegation by Bush's campaign director in Iowa that the rumor was being spread by supporters of Republican rival Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas.
The rumors began buzzing around political circles several weeks ago, according to Bush's campaign spokeswoman, Barbara Pardue. She said those spreading the Bush affair gossip "should be ashamed of themselves."
The rumors, with varying detail, linked Bush with a female aide. Newsweek magazine mentioned a version that also involved the wife of a prominent supporter. Bush has been married to Barbara Bush for 42 years.
Newsweek quoted George Bush Jr., the vice president's oldest son and campaign adviser, as saying he approached his father and said: "You've heard the rumors. What about it?"
The vice president replied, "They're just not true," Newsweek said, quoting George Jr. as concluding: "The answer to the Big A question is N.O."
In Iowa, Bush campaign director George Wittgraff said the gossip was being spread with "some sense of excitement." He added, "The only places we're picking it up in Iowa were from people involved with the Dole campaign."
Walt Riker, Dole's spokesman, said: "We're not in the business of passing along gossip . . . and we don't do it."