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Bush Calls Dole a ‘Sunshine Patriot’ for Reagan

Times Staff Writer

Campaigning on a snow-shortened day, Vice President George Bush contended Friday that his chief opponent, Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, was “devoid” of foreign policy experience and suggested that Dole had been only a “sunshine patriot” for the causes of President Reagan.

On a day when network polls showed a tightening race between the two rivals here, Bush stayed on the offensive, contrasting himself with Dole on the few issues on which they have substantive differences.

“The latest thing he says is he probably won’t raise tax rates,” Bush told an audience in Nashua. “Well, maybe he would and maybe he wouldn’t. . . . The fact is he’d raise taxes with an oil import fee and I wouldn’t.”

Emotional Issue

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Dole has said he would support a fee on imported oil if a rebate or credit were given to residents of areas such as New Hampshire that are heavily dependent on home heating oil. Bush has categorically opposed such a fee, which is an emotional issue in the frigid North.

An ABC News-Washington Post poll taken Thursday night showed Bush with 32% to Dole’s 26%. That 6-point spread was an increase over the vice president’s 33% to 29% edge in polling Tuesday, the network said.

But CBS News reported that its latest poll, taken Wednesday and Thursday, gave the Kansas senator 32% to Bush’s 29%. The network said polling Tuesday and Wednesday had Bush on top, 35% to 27%.

Mantle of Reagan

Bush, in what has become a major theme as he seeks to regain momentum after a devastating loss in Iowa, wrapped himself in the mantle of Reagan, who trounced Bush in the last contested Republican primary in New Hampshire.

“For eight years I’ve been at the side of that good man, helping him when he needed it and taking a back seat when that was right,” Bush said. “Some people have asked: Was Bob Dole there? . . . That’s up to you. Some things aren’t convenient or comfortable--and that’s not so bad, even the sunshine patriots helped us win the Revolution.”

Since Thursday night, Bush has leaned heavily on a new speech crafted by Peggy Noonan, a former Reagan speech writer who authored the President’s moving address to the nation the night of the Challenger explosion.

Snowplow, Puppy

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In addition, Bush on Friday took reporters on a walk in the snowfall through a hilly development near his hotel in Nashua, greeting voters, kissing babies, driving a snowplow and nuzzling a puppy that licked his nose.

As cameras rolled, he pitched snowballs at his daughter, Dorothy LeBlond, engaged in a contest with another walker--Bush was 1-for-5 in hitting targets--and good-naturedly turned down a beer offered by a passing motorist.

“Hey, George,” one man yelled as Bush passed by, then snapped a camera at the traveling party. Another couple hustled toward the vice president and his wife to shake hands and promise their votes.

“Usually we chase the voters,” Mrs. Bush said while laughing.

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