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CAMPAIGN ’88 : Bentsen Answers GOP Ads in ‘Teleconference’

With leading Democrats as allies and college Democrats as props, Lloyd Bentsen hooked up with a satellite Thursday to broaden his bid to “set the record straight” in the face of Republican negative advertising.

In an hourlong “teleconference” from Corpus Christi, Tex., that linked more than two dozen college campuses in 11 states, the Democratic vice presidential nominee fielded questions from young supporters who had been instructed to ask questions like this one:

How accurate are Republican commercials that portray Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis as soft on crime?

“I’m delighted to have you ask that one,” Bentsen said, as if the question had been unexpected. He then launched into his newly vigorous defense of Dukakis’ record and a spirited denunciation of Republican “distortion.”

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Other scripted questions allowed Bentsen to speak up for his running mate’s besieged positions on gun control (“I wouldn’t be on the same ticket with a fellow that would take my shotgun away”) and defense policy (“Michael Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen are totally committed to a strong national defense”).

The teleconference cost the campaign about $14,000 and was made available to television stations around the country.


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