Republican presidential nominee George Bush said Michael Dukakis has wrecked rather than reinvigorated the Massachusetts economy, as the Democratic presidential nominee's campaign says its "truth squad" will fight what it calls the Republican ticket's abuse of numbers.
Bush made his latest accusations Monday as he planned to surround himself with stars and stripes at a New Jersey flag factory he says has thrived during the Reagan administration.Dukakis, saying "we don't need any more speeches about the flag," tried to seize control of the agenda by focusing on programs his administration would undertake. Today he planned to outline the first in a series of health care proposals, this one a health insurance plan for every American.
Continuing attacks he began last week on Dukakis' tenure as Massachusetts governor, the Bush told a Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Pennsylvania on Monday that the Democratic nominee had an "anti-business scheme."
He said business bankruptcies in Massachusetts rose 23.7 percent during the first six months of the year while the national rate had fallen 23.5 percent.
Bush also accused Dukakis of running a divisive campaign, "with a calculated strategy of emphasizing differences between rich and poor, between one region of the country and another."
Dukakis and running mate Lloyd Bentsen of Texas campaigned in Houston on Monday, where Dukakis said he would support government intervention if necessary to keep domestic oil wells operating.
Dukakis also said he would appoint Bentsen, who has made a congressional career of helping the oil industry, to a bipartisan energy summit.
Accusing Bush of changing his position on offshore drilling to suit his campaign needs - supporting it in Texas and opposing it in California - Dukakis told the audience of about 1,000:
"George Bush is like a coin. They just flip him. Sometimes he lands on his head. Sometimes he lands on his tail."
Just as Bush did in Pennsylvania, Republican running mate Dan Quayle of Indiana attacked Dukakis' record on the Massachusetts economy during appearances in Knoxville, Tenn., and Casper, Wyo.
Charging that Dukakis "created an economic manacle" in Massachusetts, he said the state ranks 40th out of 50 states in total employment growth and 45th in manufacturing job growth. It actually lost 90,000 manufacturing jobs between June 1984 and January 1988, he said.
Quayle also went after Dukakis on what the Republicans contend is his election-year conversion to a tougher defense. "In just a week his defense policy went from general confusion to General Patton," he said.
The Dukakis campaign swiftly countered the claims made by both Republican candidates about the Massachusetts economy, bringing out eight business leaders in Massachusetts to respond.
"My company has grown and prospered under the leadership of Governor Dukakis," said one of them, Wang Computer Co. founder An Wang, a Dukakis supporter. "He created the atmosphere that made it possible for us to grow."
Dukakis spokesman Mark Gearan said leading members of the Democratic Party would be called on to rebut some Bush charges while Massachusetts business and industry leaders would address Bush comments about the state economy.