Former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft said Vice President George Bush is better suited to serve the American people as president than Gov. Michael Dukakis because Bush has been involved in laying solid foundations in Soviet relations and foreign policy.
Scowcroft, who was in Salt Lake City for a family reunion, told the Deseret News Saturday that Dukakis' vice-presidential candidate Sen. Lloyd Bentsen of Texas "actually has more in common with George Bush in the field of foreign policy that with Gov. Dukakis.""I think it's likely to be a close election," Scowcroft said. "The Democrats had a successful convention - but not without problems that can be exploited by the Republicans. The condition of the country, regarding the economy and the relatively strong relationship with the Soviet Union, should help the Republicans," Scowcroft said.
"But the vice president is in an unusual position in not really being able to inherit a lot of the positive aspects of President Reagan. Instead, he inherits the negative ones, and that can create problems."
Scowcroft said Bush should combat those negative images by focusing on future goals in foreign policy.
"He needs to demonstrate the points of policy continuity with Reagan, but also, underscore the areas where he might modify those policies," Scowcroft said.
"Principally, what he needs to do is express his vision of where he's likely to take the country as we approach the 21st century. If he can do that successfully, I think he'll have a very good chance."
Scowcroft, now vice chairman of Kissinger Associates, an international business consulting firm in Washington, D.C., and New York, said Dukakis is modifying his earlier views, which makes it difficult to understand his policy position.
"From what emerges, it seems to me that his (Dukakis') policy includes a `stepping back' from American leadership," Scowcroft said. "I think that's still essential and has to be in cooperation with our friends and allies. But we cannot turn policy formulation over to multilateral bodies - it simply will not work."
He added that Dukakis has less understanding of the strengths and requirements needed in foreign relations than does Bush.
In the area of national security, Scowcroft said the next president will need to make improvements in the area of weapon systems.
"The next president needs to badly focus on the management of the Pentagon. Secretary Carlucci is doing a fine job, but he has only a short time," Scowcroft said.
"There really are some things that need to be done to improve the effectiveness of the way we buy weapon systems. I think that had the Packard Commission Reforms been implemented in spirit, rather than mostly in form, that we'd be a lot farther along," he said.
Scowcroft, an Ogden native, served on the Tower Commission during the Iran-Contra affair and has testified before congressional committees "looking into the possibility of legislation in what does and does not need to be developed in order to avoid repetition" in government scandals.