Republican vice presidential nominee Dan Quayle on Wednesday hit back at gibes that Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis has tossed at presidential nominee George Bush in recent days.
Traveling through Missouri, a state where Republicans and Democrats appear evenly matched, Quayle noted Dukakis’ recent contention that Bush had no ideas or inner convictions.
His words dripping with sarcasm, Quayle retorted: “Well, I will fully concede that Michael Dukakis is a man with convictions, ideas and plans.
Death Penalty Stand
“It is his conviction that even the worst killers and drug kingpins should not suffer the death penalty,” he said.
“He has ideas all right. His idea of a strong national defense is not to modernize our strategic weapons.
”. . . Yes, he has convictions, ideas and plans, and that’s why the people of America and Missouri are going to vote for George Bush,” he said at William Jewell College here.
As Dukakis supporters chanted insults in the background, Quayle also alluded to comments in a Gannett News Service interview in which Willie Horton--the former Massachusetts prisoner whose escape from a furlough program has become a campaign issue--said he “obviously” supported Dukakis.
“Willie Horton endorsed Michael Dukakis,” he hooted. “Well, the way Gov. Dukakis is winning endorsements I’m beginning to think he has the best handlers in politics.”
Tour of Missouri Plant
Quayle opened his Missouri campaign day with a tour and brief address at the Wire Rope Corp. of America in St. Joseph.
Workers at the factory said wages had been dropping steadily because of competition from foreign steel sources. But Quayle said “we feel we’ve done a reasonably good job, that we’ve changed things.” Then, casting blame on the Democrats, he said that when Reagan and Bush took office “there was a mess.”
“Sure, we’ve got our challenges,” he added. “We’ve got our challenges to make sure that we have fair trade. We’ve got our challenges to make sure we’ve got jobs, good jobs at good wages and believe me, we’ve done a good job on that.”
Several workers wearing Dukakis buttons stood with arms folded as he talked. Many of the workers in the crowd described themselves as undecided voters and said Quayle’s brief remarks had done nothing to sway their decision either way.
“I’m sure he knows what he’s talking about,” said cable splicer Jasper Penland, at 40 a year younger than Quayle and a Walter F. Mondale supporter in 1984.
‘He Might Do All Right’
“I don’t know how good a vice president he’s going to make. He’s young but he might do all right.”
Earlier in the day, Quayle met privately with more than a dozen Jewish leaders, trying to bolster support within that traditionally Democratic group.
Quayle said Jewish voters had leaned to Democratic candidates because “we haven’t done as good a job as we should have in communicating.”