Here in the land of dried corn stalks, falling oak leaves, pumpkins and football rivalries, George Bush declared, “it’s not labels that matter, it’s these values.”
Circling just beyond the Chicago suburbs, where the outward march of subdivisions brings a daily reminder to rural Illinois of the ever-closer city, Bush then proceeded to fire away on Saturday, offering a label of his own for rival Michael S. Dukakis: “The big L-word (for liberal) does symbolize a big difference between me and my opponent.”
The Republican presidential nominee, slipping into a borrowed leather jacket and a favorite political message, spent the day on yet another bus trip, his third of the campaign, to reach a crucial Republican stronghold in an effort to drive up the conservative vote in his quest for Illinois’ 24 electoral votes.
Barbara Bush’s Views
While Bush continued to direct barbed remarks at his opponent, commenting at one stop that the whales recently trapped by ice in Alaska were lucky they had not found themselves in the polluted Boston Harbor, his wife, Barbara, acknowledged to reporters that she does not like the tenor of the presidential campaign.
She insisted, however, that “I absolutely am convinced that George Bush is doing no mudslinging.”
The vice president’s wife joined reporters on a bus at the tail of the vice president’s motorcade for a 20-minute leg, and revealed just what is driving her and her husband in the final days of the campaign: Democrat Harry S. Truman’s come-from-behind victory over Republican Thomas E. Dewey 40 years ago.
“Remember, the first vote he and I ever made was for Dewey,” she said.
While her husband, in a bus near the front of the 31-vehicle caravan, stopped at a roadside farm to buy a pumpkin with his 12-year-old grandson, George P. Bush, Barbara Bush chuckled over a family joke: The vice president, she said, has declared that if he loses the election, he’ll simply pick up and drive away after his term ends in January.
“You’re going to drive away alone,” she said she tells Bush, who has had Secret Service agents as chauffeurs for eight years. “I’m not getting in a car with a man who hasn’t driven in years. Can’t you see it, going the wrong way down a one-way street?”
Throughout the day in northwest Illinois, where Ronald Reagan picked up as much as 75% of the vote against Walter F. Mondale in 1984, Bush was clearly in an upbeat, fighting mood. The crowds he encountered on his fifth trip to the state since Labor Day, while less than overwhelming in size, greeted him enthusiastically.
He hammered away at Dukakis in what has become an autumn-long effort to paint the Democrat as a liberal, and carefully linked the Democratic presidential nominee to the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the civil rights leader.
He reminded a throng that gathered shortly after dawn in the rural town of Crystal Lake that in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Dukakis “and Jesse Jackson (were) running on the left side.”
Renews Class Division Charge
The vice president also renewed his charge that Dukakis, who has increasingly focused his appeal on areas of traditional Democratic Party strength and on economic issues, has sought “to divide America by class.”
Asked later by reporters what he meant, Bush replied, “they’re trying to go talk about my elitism, and all that--resurrecting this at the end. The American people are not going to be fooled by it. Now that’s all I got to say about it.”