Michael Dukakis, attacking George Bush in rural Texas, said Friday Republican policy on hard-pressed farmers and ranchers "can be summed up in two words: Tough luck." Bush, in turn, called Dukakis' homestate prisoner furlough program a "revolving door for murderers."
The latest tough talk from the presidential candidates came one day after they exchanged long-distance rhetorical barbs over Social Security and other issues.Dukakis told a crowd at a farm rally in Idalou, Texas, that if he is elected he will devote $100 million to investment in farm areas.
Recalling Bush's call for a "kinder and gentler America" in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, Dukakis asked if the vice president's idea of a kinder and gentler America was "foreclosing on American farmers, letting our small towns die?"
"Mr. Bush's farm policy can be summed up in five words: the fewer farmers the better. And the Republican rural development policy can be summed up in two words: tough luck."
Dukakis said rural America is filled with "monuments to the neglect and indifference and incompetence of Mr. Bush and his friends. Farms and ranches abandoned or foreclosed, banks and hospitals shut down, storefronts boarded up. Communities fighting to survive."
Bush traveled to Paterson, N.J., to pick up the endorsement of local law enforcement officers, and also planned later in the day to accept the endorsement of a Springfield, Mass., police group - his second such trip to Massachusetts in an effort to tweak Dukakis.
"We should have much more sympathy for the victims of crime than we have for the criminals and that's the kind of judge I'll appoint to the federal bench," Bush said, speaking from the steps of the Paterson Municipal Complex.
He said Dukakis, as governor of Massachusetts, had a "basic revolving door program for murderers who have not even served enough time for parole."
President Reagan was back on the campaign trail for his vice president, taking up Bush's attack on Dukakis' membership in the American Civil Liberties Union. In a speech prepared for delivery in Chicago, Reagan said, "You recall a few years back, political figures had to disassociate themselves from groups on the right with far-out views. Isn't it now time for responsible people to do the same thing with far-out groups on the left?"
Meanwhile, a new Gallup Poll, taken Tuesday and Wednesday among 1,020 registered voters, said Bush was favored by 47 percent to Dukakis' 42 percent.
On Thursday, Bush dismissed Dukakis' criticisms of the Republican nominee's vote to freeze Social Security benefits, citing a similar stance by the Democrat three years ago.
The GOP presidential nominee, turning the tables on an issue the Democrats have used against him, said Thursday that at the National Governors' Association meeting in February 1985 Dukakis voted for a resolution calling for an overall freeze of Social Security benefits.
Dukakis has criticized Bush for casting a tie-breaking Senate vote in May 1985 to approve legislation that included a one-year freeze on Social Security cost-of-living adjustments.
The two vice presidential candidates - Republican Dan Quayle and Democrat Lloyd Bentsen - were devoting much of their time to preparing for their debate Wednesday in Omaha, Neb.
Dukakis picked up four endorsements from environmental groups and from actor Robert Redford, an environmental activist whose good looks have occasionally been compared to Quayle's. In his 1980 race for the Senate, Quayle himself made the comparison in campaign ads that pictured the two side by side - ads that angered Redford, who asked that they be halted.