Surprise Comment at Quayle Speech : Bush Should Start Talking of Issues, Goldwater Says
Day upon day, Vice President George Bush and his running mate, Indiana Sen. Dan Quayle, insist that, despite all the hot-blooded speeches, theirs is really a campaign of issues.
On Wednesday, Barry Goldwater, longtime Bush supporter and living idol of American conservative politics, lowered the boom and said otherwise.
“I hope you take this kindly,” Goldwater said as he introduced Quayle to the Midtown Phoenix Rotary Club. “I want you to go back and tell George Bush to start talking about the issues.”
His audience sat transfixed at this unexpected breach of peace in the happy GOP family. Quayle hesitated and then took the lectern with a nervous chuckle and deadpanned: “I wish Barry would say what is on his mind.”
Criticized by Democrats
Democratic critics have accused the GOP ticket of avoiding comment on the difficult budget and political issues awaiting the next Administration in favor of challenging the patriotism of Democratic nominee Michael S. Dukakis, a tactic they liken to McCarthyism. Perhaps Goldwater was referring to those criticisms, but he did not expand on his rebuke.
“I’m not going to say anything more, so go on your way,” Goldwater told reporters as he limped off slowly with use of a cane.
Quayle, returning to the town where he spent part of his youth, delivered his standard stump speech, portraying Dukakis as a liberal who supports gun control, is weak on defense and belongs to the American Civil Liberties Union.
The jab from Goldwater was not the only uncomfortable moment of Quayle’s campaign day, as he traveled from Nevada to Arizona to California.
Endorsement From Mecham
He was endorsed unexpectedly by impeached former Gov. Evan Mecham and pursued across Phoenix by a noisy flock of protest chickens, both live and costumed.
Mecham, who was convicted by the Arizona Senate of obstruction of justice and misusing public funds, was as glad to talk to reporters as Goldwater was reticent.
“He brings a young image to the ticket,” Mecham said of Quayle after a private fund-raising reception. “But he’s no lightweight; he’s earned his spurs. I think he’s fine.”
As for the chickens, they were colorful, biting and continuing evidence that the senator cannot shake the controversy over his decision to join the National Guard and stay home during the Vietnam War.
Underneath the half a dozen outlandish feathered chicken costumes, and carrying a large cage full of live chickens, were men like ex-Marine Jim Driscoll, who displayed his Bronze Star medal.
‘Chicken, Coward, Hypocrite’
He politely apologized for the disruption but said Quayle’s record of hawkishness did not square with his military service.
“A chicken, a coward, a hypocrite,” Driscoll said.
Protesters carried another attention-getting, if ghoulish, prop--a mock coffin with a sign: “I took Dan Quayle’s place in Vietnam.”
The protesters numbered only a dozen or so, but they stubbornly followed the candidate from a grade school in nearby Chandler, Ariz., where he made a brief appearance, to the Arizona Biltmore Hotel for his Rotary Club speech and fund-raiser. Attempts by school and hotel security guards to shoo the protesters away only seemed to attract greater attention to their cause.
The protest here was the most colorful to challenge the candidate but is by no means an isolated phenomenon. At almost every stop, Quayle is confronted with signs and catcalls about his wartime service.
Campaign officials once argued that journalists were fanning the controversy. Now they charge that plain old-fashioned Dukakis partisans are trying to exploit it.
Quayle attended rallies in Fresno and Bakersfield also, and again protesters challenged him over his wartime service.
In Fresno, students shouting slogans like “Chicken hawk!” over amplified megaphones competed with a larger number of enthusiastic young Republicans chanting “Bush/Quayle 88!”
Quayle then flew to Los Angeles, where he is to address the World Affairs Council today.
Staff writer Robert Scheer contributed to this story.