The presidential campaign turned bitter Friday, with a pro-George Bush group enlisting the aid of a Maryland couple once terrorized by a furloughed Massachusetts convict and Michael Dukakis airing stinging anti-Quayle ads.
Republican vice presidential nominee Dan Quayle told reporters in Chattanooga, Tenn., Friday that he heard of the new television commercials that the Dukakis campaign was using against him."They obviously don't have anything bad to say about George Bush and that's fine with me," Quayle said.
Later, he added, "We can stand the attention, we can stand the heat, we're going to stay in the kitchen and George Bush is going to be the next president of the United States. The voters will vote for him."
The two ads, one of which aired Thursday night, will run nationwide.
One shows a picture of the vacant president's chair in the Oval Office with the sound of a heartbeat in the background as an announcer says: "The most powerful man in the world is also mortal. One in five American vice presidents has had to rise to the duties of commander-in-chief. For this job, after five months of reflection, George Bush made his personal choice, J. Danforth Quayle. Hopefully, we will never know how great a lapse of judgment that really was."
The other commercial shows a group of actors portraying Bush campaign strategists, with the first one declaring, "We've got a disaster on our hands."
"Suddenly the words `President Quayle' even make me nervous," another says. "Is it too late to bring in (Sen.) Bob Dole?" the third asks.
At the same time, a Maryland couple recruited by a pro-Bush group left for California to tell how they were terrorized by a Massachusetts prisoner furloughed during the Dukakis administration.
Clifford and Angela Barnes, of La Plata, Md., were scheduled to appear at seven news conferences during the next four days in California and Texas - two key battleground states.
The appearances are sponsored by the Committee for the Presidency-George Bush Media Fund, a Los Angeles-based independent committee not affiliated with the campaign.
"I'm going to have a chance to say what happened to my wife and me," The Baltimore Sun quoted Clifford Barnes as saying. "I'm not going out there to campaign for Bush," Barnes said, adding that "the facts speak for themselves."
Convicted murderer Willie Horton, free on a 48-hour pass from a Massachusetts prison, broke into the couple's Oxon Hill, Md., home April 3, 1987. The couple was terrorized for the next 12 hours. Horton raped the woman twice and repeatedly slashed her fiance, who was tied up in the basement.
Horton was captured and later sentenced in Maryland to two life terms plus 85 years. The Bush campaign has called the incident evidence Dukakis is soft on crime.
Although Dukakis has said the furlough of Horton was a mistake, he defended the furlough program that was created in 1972 by Republican Gov. Francis W. Sargent.
The Dukakis campaign criticized the opposition for exploiting a tragedy. "George Bush is using one tragic occurrence for political reasons. He's playing politics with this tragedy," spokesman Steven Akey said.