Attacking vigorously with just over three weeks to the election, George Bush said in Denver today that his Democratic rival should “stop running down our defenses,” while Michael S. Dukakis campaigned in the industrial heartland and said Bush “sat on his hands” while the region fought for survival.
Far from conceding the presidential race is over, despite polls showing Bush with a lead, the two contenders were out campaigning early and hard as the week began.
Dukakis, seeking votes in Ohio, one of the states it is now clear he must win to have a chance on Election Day, said, “Here in Ohio you’ve lost thousands of manufacturing jobs. And just last week we learned that we had more imports coming into the United States in August than in any month in history.”
Bush Record Challenged
He also said that while Bush talks about “a kinder, gentler nation,” his record contradicts that message.
“His record tells the people of Ohio, ‘We don’t care enough about you to protect you from the nuclear weapons facilities that are poisoning your water and threatening the safety of your workers,’ ” Dukakis said.
“I want to be the President who stands up and fights for you,” Dukakis told workers at an aging brass and copper plant in Euclid. He said his rival assures the voters “everything’s fine, not to worry. . . .
“But his record sends a very different message. . . . His record tells America’s industrial heartland, ‘Let it rust,’ ”
‘My Spirits Are Good’
The Massachusetts governor told reporters, “My spirits are good” as he set out on a campaign swing through industrial states. And he twice took trumpet in hand to make a stab at a few bars of “Happy Days Are Here Again.”
But the political news for Dukakis was anything but happy as newspaper polls in the wake of last week’s presidential debate indicated Bush holds a double-digit lead in Ohio.
Bush, meanwhile, resumed his attack on Dukakis as weak on defense.
The vice president used a Martin-Marietta defense plant in Denver, where “Star Wars” research is being conducted, to launch his latest attack on Dukakis.
Won’t Leave U.S. Defenseless
“I will not leave America defenseless against ballistic missiles,” Bush told about 2,500 company employees in the cavernous assembly plant where Titan IV rockets are built.
Bush said Dukakis is “trying desperately to jump into the mainstream” by talking of a need to modernize land-based defenses.
“But there is strong reason to doubt that he would do it, especially when it comes to modernizing our land-based missiles,” he said.
Bush added, “It’s time the liberal governor stopped spreading what I’ll call charitably ‘misinformation’ about the state of our forces. It’s not 1980 any more. Our divisional war fighting capabilities have improved by an average of 60% since 1980.”
A day earlier, Bush cautioned against overconfidence and promised to stick to his campaign course, while Dukakis, facing an uphill struggle in the presidential race, nevertheless predicted victory on Election Day.