George Bush said Friday Michael Dukakis must explain how he could say he would consider deployment of "Star Wars" after denouncing the proposed missile defense system as "a fantasy in the sky." Dukakis called Bush's attacks on him McCarthyism and said voters "can smell the garbage."
Meanwhile, Bush's Republican running mate, Indiana Sen. Dan Quayle, was peppered with new questions about his entry into law school.Bush, speaking to GOP women in Rockford, Ill., said of Dukakis and the Strategic Defense Initiative: "Calling it a fantasy one day, something he won't rule out the next . . . suggests a confusion in my view on the basic facts, a confusion in terms of what he really believes and where he would take this country.
"The governor's going to have to explain himself," he said.
The Democratic nominee said this week he supports continued research on a space-based missile defense system and would back deployment if it were shown to be feasible and essential to the national interest.
Dukakis was campaigning in Texas after attending a $5 million Democratic fund-raiser in New York at which he told the black-tie audience, "I won't kid you, this is not going to be an easy 60 days."
The Massachusetts governor was striving to regain momentum in the face of recent polls that have said Bush had surged into the lead in the presidential race.
Speaking at East Texas State University, the alma mater of the late House Speaker Sam Rayburn, Dukakis said that Republicans once attacked Rayburn as a communist.
"Sam Rayburn knew that when you fight for the real people, the other side will attack your patriotism," Dukakis said. "He saw it again in the 1950s when the Republicans cheered as Joseph McCarthy slandered good Democrats as communists.
"And those Republican tactics haven't changed. Just as they did to Franklin Roosevelt and Sam Rayburn, they're now attacking my patriotism. And just as they did in the 1930s and the 1950s, the American people can smell the garbage."
Bush spokesman Mark Goodin responded, "The American people are getting a good look at the real Michael Dukakis and his views, and they simply don't like what they see. We aren't questioning his patriotism, we're questioning his judgment."
Democratic vice presidential nominee Lloyd Bentsen, campaigning in Iowa, quoted Republican Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas as saying that Bush "doesn't know what's going on" when it comes to agriculture.