Democrat Michael Dukakis said Thursday the nation needs "a real leader in the White House" to make defense policy based on "tough management, not wishful thinking and blank checks," as George Bush reached out for minority votes Republicans have not attracted in recent years.

The pace of preparations for the Republican National Convention in New Orleans picked up as platform writers hoped to finish the GOP document by the end of the day."We've built upon a constructive, conservative platform we had in 1984 and then expanded it," said Sen. Robert Kasten of Wisconsin, co-chairman of the Republican committee on the NBC-TV "Today" show.

Dukakis kicked off a five-state campaign trip with a speech on leadership at New York University.

Without mentioning Bush by name, the Masssachusetts governor sought to portray himself as a chief executive who would not tolerate waste in the Pentagon and would "clean up the mess" in military procurement.

"We've got to have a real leader in the White House who will insist that, when it comes to our national security, we're going to make our decisions based not on what's good for one company or one military service or one political party but on what's good for America," Dukakis said in his prepared text.

"The test of a successful defense policy isn't how much money we spend; it's how much security we buy," the Democratic presidential nominee said. "And for the past eight years, we haven't gotten what we've gone into debt for. We have to build strong military forces based on sound planning and tough management, not wishful thinking and blank checks."

Bush spent more time in Washington Thursday working on his acceptance speech, to be delivered a week from Thursday. He and his family will have lunch with President and Nancy Reagan at the White House for a rare gathering of both couples. The White House announced Thursday that the Reagans and Bushes would also cross paths Tuesday in New Orleans, as Reagan leaves the convention city after his farewell and Bush arrives for his coronation.

Later Thursday, the vice president scheduled an annoucement designed to demonstrate that Democrats cannot take black votes for granted. He was to announce a group known as the National Black Americans for Bush. Campaign aides said it would include about 100 blacks, including officeholders and prominent black Republicans.

On Wednesday, Dukakis helped to break ground for a new sewage plant to help clean up Boston Harbor, a $6 billion undertaking that is also the largest public works undertaking in Massachusetts history.

In response to Republicans who had pummeled him for deciding in his first term as governor to delay efforts to end the pollution problems there, Dukakis said: "Nobody could really tell us what to do to clean up this place. There were very respected people, experts in the field, who disagreed."

Bush campaign manager Lee Atwater nonetheless added another slam on Wednesday, saying: "If it takes the governor of Massachusetts 11 years to clean up his own harbor, Americans must question his commitment to the even larger environmental questions which face our nation."

Bush jumped to the defense of his boss on Wednesday, saying Reagan has not altered his stance on the issues or made personnel decisions to help Bush in the fall campaign.

"Almost everything the president does, he gets asked a question, `Are you doing this to help George Bush?' "