Bush Brings Campaign to County : Vice President Tours Hughes

Times Staff Writer

Fortunately for Vice President George Bush, the notice posted in the Hughes Ground Systems plant in Fullerton warning against "Eating, Drinking or Smoking in This Area" said nothing about politicking.

Bush swept through the facility Friday, shaking hands and reminding some of the 17,000 Hughes employees in Orange County that he would like their support in the June 7 Republican primary and, more importantly, in the fall general election. The aircraft plant was Bush's only stop in the county after he flew from San Diego to El Toro Marine Corps Air Station.

Bush, who has all but secured the Republican presidential nomination, brushed off questions about Panamanian strongman Manuel A. Noriega but voiced sympathy over the death in captivity of CIA station chief William Buckley, for whom a memorial service was conducted Friday in Washington.

"Every minute he was held hostage I felt it in my heart," Bush said.

After greeting production workers and inspecting two of the company's big-ticket government projects, Bush joked to a lunchtime crowd of about 4,000 that "this is a relatively nonpolitical event."

He said his welcome was one "any politician would be grateful for" and thanked the company for permitting candidates to visit, a decision he called "good civics."

Hughes Aircraft Co., owned by General Motors Corp., is the largest supplier of defense electronics products in the United States. Its Ground Systems Group employs nearly 13,000 workers.

As the vice president--dressed in a light blue smock with a stitched name patch--left an assembly area, he stopped to shake hands with O.R. Robles of the quality assurance section.

"Bienvenido futuro presidente (welcome future president)," the Victorville woman told him.

Bush got some hands-on exposure to Hughes' new air traffic control system, which it hopes to sell to the Federal Aviation Administration. Sometime this summer, company officials said, the FAA will choose between the Hughes system and one being developed by IBM. The contract for the Advanced Automation System, which features high-contrast color monitors, is worth $4.8 billion. Many workers were allowed an early lunch hour to hear Bush's remarks in a parking lot where a stage had been erected. The company also provided free soft drinks, apples and chips, and arranged for a jazz band and vocal ensemble from Sunny Hills High School to perform.

Patricia Koval, a union official from South Gate, said before Bush's short speech that she hoped the vice president would talk about "tax reform--Reaganomics. Somebody's got to change that. I'd like him to change those taxes around. They're killing people."

Pat Steinbach of Orange said she hoped that Bush would talk about getting more government contracts for Hughes "so the union and the company can work together."

After listening to Bush's speech--he talked about defense but not about taxes--both Koval and Steinbach said they haven't made up their minds yet about whom they would support in the fall.

Linda Pedersen of Yorba Linda and Karen Haley of Anaheim said they would probably support the Republican nominee.

Pedersen said she hoped that Bush would talk about "what he intends to do for us" and afterward noted that his remarks were "kind of short."

The crowd responded warmly to Bush's remarks, including one spectator who held up a hand-lettered sign reading "Democrats for Bush."

"Thanks for the welcome," Bush said as he stepped into a gray Cadillac Fleetwood and sped off by motorcade to San Diego.

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