Vice President George Bush launched a five-state trip Monday after the weekend resignation of his hand-picked choice to run the Republican Party's campaign activities, and Michael Dukakis set out to speak more forcefully on defense issues.
Frederic V. Malek resigned Sunday as deputy chairman of the Republican National Committee. The resignation followed a report the same day in The Washington Post that he compiled figures on the number of Jews in high-ranking positions in the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 1971 for then-President Nixon.Notes that are part of the presidential archives refer to Nixon's search for a "Jewish cabal" that he thought was using unemployment data to put him in an unfavorable light. Malek acknowledged compiling the figures, but said he thought Nixon's notions were "nonsense," and that he had nothing to do with subsequent demotion of two Jewish officials in the bureau.
The report was the second in a week suggesting that people connected with the Bush campaign engaged in activities that were either overtly anti-Semitic or could be construed as such.
Malek, who was Nixon's personnel chief at the time, issued a statement with the announcement of his resignation Sunday saying he didn't want publicity about his actions for Nixon to jeopardize the Bush campaign.
In an accompanying statement, Bush called Malek "a most honorable man without a trace of bigotry in his makeup."
Dukakis, who has taken a more aggressive stance in recent days, spoke with congressional leaders in Boston about his image on national security and foreign policy issues and promised to "restate my positions forcefully" this week.
Dukakis acknowledged after the meeting that he had some differences with leading defense spokesmen of his party, most of whom are more hard-line, but promised a consensus-oriented approach to setting Pentagon priorities.