Utah campaign organizers for Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis' race for the White House called Friday for a Mountain West debate between their candidate and Republican Vice President George Bush.
Reporters were running from news conference to news conference as political parties requested audiences to promote their interests as GOP officials put the finishing touches on a rally in Farmington featuring Republican vice presidential candidate Dan Quayle."A major debate is probably not likely. Denver perhaps," said Pete Suazo, Utah campaign coordinator. "But we are hoping to have some local debates" between state organizers.
Dukakis' Utah committee, in addition to calling for a debate to highlight Western political and economic issues, questioned Quayle's voting record in Congress.
"I have great concerns about his philosophy for senior citizens and those not senior citizens on Social Security," said Louise Henson, Democratic National committeewoman for Utah, pointing out that Quayle voted against separating Social Security from the federal budget-balancing act, for freezing program benefits and for capping cost-of-living allowances.
While conceding the Indiana Republican is "young and vibrant," Henson said, "I feel he hasn't yet matured enough to have the compassion needed" to deal with issues affecting senior citizens.
The Utah campaign leaders, however, could not furnish information on the voting record of Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, D-Texas, who is running as Dukakis' vice president.
Suazo said Bush has canceled two previously scheduled debates in September, one before the League of Women Voters in Atlanta and another at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
"It seems to me after 7 1/2 years, he should be prepared," Suazo told reporters gathered in the campaign headquarters decorated with Greek foods and posters promoting the Greek Festival in Salt Lake City. "And he's telling the American people he's not."