A Democratic presidential campaign official resigned Thursday after the Dukakis campaign disavowed her comment that “George Bush owes it to the American people to fess up” about a rumor concerning an extramarital affair that rippled through Wall Street on Wednesday.
Dukakis personally apologized to Bush for the remarks, made by deputy field director Donna Brazile, when the two candidates met Thursday night in New York for the Catholic archdiocese’s annual fund-raising dinner.
Brazile told reporters accompanying the Democratic candidate that “the American people have every right to know if Barbara Bush will share that bed with him in the White House.”
Not Dukakis’ Views
Dukakis campaign spokesman Dayton Duncan said later: “Donna was not speaking on behalf of the campaign in any way whatsoever” and did not reflect the views of Dukakis. Shortly thereafter, Brazile said in a statement:
“Today I made certain comments which I deeply regret. I believe too strongly in the importance of electing Mike Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen to allow myself to become an issue in the campaign. Because the time is short, and the issues are so important, I have decided to leave the campaign.”
Bush’s spokeswoman, Sheila Tate, said: “The Bush campaign has no comment, no reaction.”
The odd episode in an already negative presidential campaign unfolded as Dukakis appealed for votes in Connecticut and New York. Brazile, saying she spoke only for herself, made her initial remarks to a small group of reporters after Dukakis appearances in New Haven, Conn., and elaborated during a bus trip with reporters to New York City.
“I’m talking about George Bush and somebody with the initials J. F. or whatever the names are,” she said. She was apparently alluding to a story published by the LA Weekly in Los Angeles, which quoted unidentified sources as saying Bush had had a longstanding affair with a member of his staff and also had an affair during the mid-1970s with another woman. The rumor first cropped up in 1987, prompting this colorful denial from George Bush Jr.: “The answer to the big A question is N.O.”
Wall Street analysts attributed Wednesday’s abrupt market decline to a rumor that the Washington Post planned to publish a damaging story about Bush. The Post had no such story, and Brazile said she did not know personally of the accuracy of the Bush rumors.