George Bush says "things are moving" his way after increasingly sharp exchanges with Michael Dukakis over image and issues, as new poll numbers and big dollar figures gave Republicans a boost as they prepared for next week's convention.
A Gallup Poll released Tuesday put Dukakis' margin at seven points over Bush, less than half of the 17-point edge the Massachusetts governor enjoyed coming out of the Democratic National Convention last month in Atlanta."I like it, I like it," Bush said Tuesday night in Philadelphia.
Although Bush was quick to say he doesn't trust the polls, he did agree that "We're moving; we're beginning to get things in focus."
The Gallup survey put Dukakis' support at 49 percent and Bush's at 42 percent in telephone interviews with 1,004 registered voters Aug. 5-7.
Only two weeks ago, Dukakis was sporting a 17-point margin over Bush, a 54-37 result in a Gallup Poll. Each survey had a 3 percentage point margin of error.
That would mean that the "bump" Dukakis gained from the Democratic convention had essentially evaporated.
With Dukakis and Bush staying close to home Wednesday, former Democratic hopeful Jesse Jackson lashed out at both men for their recent campaign styles.
"This campaign ought to focus on direction and not on dirt," Jackson told reporters after having breakfast in Washington with Democratic House members. "This campaign boils down to Bush attacking Dukakis with one-liners every day, and Dukakis is becoming preoccupied with the Bush-Noriega connection, the Bush-Iran-Contra connection, of exchanging drugs for arms.
"If it gets warped into sleaze, then there will be no hope left for the people," Jackson added.
Dukakis, meanwhile, moved to blunt a stinging Republican attack on his support for a clean environment. The Massachusetts governor took part in the groundbreaking for a new sewage treatment plant on Boston Harbor, the first step in a $3 billion effort to clean up what the Environmental Protection Agency has called the filthiest harbor in the nation.
Bush had been getting some political mileage out of the harbor pollution. In his first term as governor, Dukakis opposed committing massive resources to the cleanup, a stance he now concedes was a mistake.
"He goes down to New Jersey and talks about the pollution off of New Jersey and look, over his shoulder is Boston Harbor, one of the most seriously polluted bodies of water in this country," Bush said Sunday.
Dukakis spokesman Dayton Duncan countered that "we'd be very happy" for the election to turn on the environmental record of the two candidates.
Bush still has the Republican National Convention to come, beginning Monday in New Orleans, with its four nights of prime time partisanship designed to boost his standing with the voters. He was spending today in Washington and working on his acceptance speech.
The Republican National Committee got good news from its finance officials Wednesday, hearing that the party has $13.5 million cash on hand toward a goal of "more than $70 million toward election of Republican candidates at all levels" this year.