Democrat Michael Dukakis scoffed Tuesday at the Republican wish list of weapons, saying "you can't have them all" and still balance the budget, while Republican running mate Dan Quayle said Dukakis is wrong to call "Star Wars" a fantasy. "It is called defending America," he said.
Dukakis finished up a two-day swing through his home state of Massachusetts and Republican George Bush toured Kentucky Tuesday as representatives of both campaigns opened summit-style negotiations to hammer out a schedule for fall debates."I believe they recognize how important it is to the American people that there be debates," Dukakis chairman Paul Brountas said before he and campaign manager Susan Estrich met with Bush's campaign chairman James Baker, media adviser Roger Ailes and adviser Bob Goodwin.
Baker, speaking to reporters on his way in to the meeting in the Washington offices of Brountas' law firm, was asked how many debates were expected. "That's what we're here to find out," he said.
The Democratic nominee hinted strongly he would let no more Republican broadsides go unanswered. "If it continues you have to respond," Dukakis said in Springfield, Mass. "I think that's unfortunate, but I think it's very clear what kind of campaign the Republicans are running."
Dukakis also cited his opposition to the mobile MX missile system, two new supercarrier task forces and the "Star Wars" space defense system.
"Mr. Bush says he wants them all," the Democrat said. "You can't have them all. Not if you're serious about providing the resources our conventional forces need and not if you're serious about getting that deficit down."
Quayle defended "Star Wars" in a speech Tuesday. "It is not a fantasy as the governor of Massachusetts has called it. It is called defending America," he said.
In an appearance before the International Association of Fire Chiefs, meeting in Washington, Quayle opened by saying, "I've become very accustomed to fighting fires the last couple of weeks."
Dukakis made his call Monday for a return to the rhetorical high ground while being criticized by Democrats for letting Bush control the debate with attacks on the Democrat's patriotism, views on defense and gun control and a Massachusetts prison furlough program.
Dukakis, during a tour of western Massachusetts to highlight that area's economic resurgence, said he was "trying to get this campaign up where it belongs" by discussing his economic positions. But the Massachusetts governor also countered Bush's attacks on the furlough program and launched his own salvo on the vice president's support for a reduction in the capital gains tax.
In his counterattack, Dukakis showed a newly aggressive posture.
Dukakis said at a news conference he wants to ask Bush about the 16,000 furloughs granted to federal prisoners last year, "some lasting 45 days and many to convicted drug pushers Mr. Bush says he wants to execute."
Bush, during a tour of a defense plant in St. Louis, belittled Dukakis for saying the United States needs anti-tank weapons rather than MX mobile missiles, saying both systems are needed for a strong defense.
"Does he understand the principles of deterrence, keeping the peace by deterring war?" Bush said. "It's not a choice between the two."