Michael Dukakis was meeting with a friendly audience of Greek-Americans Thursday after attributing GOP convention attacks on him to a "pretty desperate Republican Party."
The Democratic presidential nominee, increasingly aggressive as he is criticized by speakers at the Republican National Convention, arrived here late Wednesday and continued his direct attack on the Republican agenda and indirect attack on Indiana Sen. Dan Quayle, the choice of GOP presidential nominee George Bush to fill the ticket."I think it's a sign of a pretty desperate Republican Party," Dukakis said at the Miami airport when asked what he thought of the "Democrat bashing" taking place in New Orleans, the Republican convention city.
"I don't think the American people are interested in this kind of thing," the Massachusetts governor said. "I think they want a president who is going to sound strong and optimistic and confident about this country. That's the kind of person I am."
Then, as he did earlier Wednesday in Minnesota, Dukakis touted the 18-year Senate experience of his running mate, Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, and implied Quayle was not ready to be the nation's No. 2 leader.
"Nobody has questioned whether Lloyd Bentsen is qualified for the job or ready to step into the presidency if that became necessary," Dukakis said.
He used that tack repeatedly to promote Bentsen over Quayle while Dukakis aides were more direct in characterizing Quayle as too inexperienced for the vice presidency.
Dukakis was attending the Greek-American event here Thursday morning before heading to Alabama, where he was to tour the Marshall Space Center in Huntsville and then a Baptist church in Birmingham. It is unusual for the nominee of one party to campaign during the other party's convention, but Bush broke tradition by campaigning during the final two days of the Democratic convention.
Dukakis was in Virginia, Minn., for a noon rally Wednesday, where he likened the Republican convention to "a trip down Memory Lane."
Dukakis told the lakefront rally that Republicans are focusing on the Reagan years to avoid discussing rising interest rates, the soaring trade and budget deficits and economic distress in the Midwest and other parts of the country.
"The Republican Party has been celebrating the past," Dukakis said. "When you think about what's going to happen to them in November, you can't blame them."