Michael Dukakis concedes he has no "magic wand" and George Bush acknowledges he's no "mystic," but each man is trying to come up with late converts to his cause as polls show their presidential race running in place.
The Democrat and the Republican remained in the industrial heartland Wednesday, each with a stop in Chicago, campaigning for support in the Rust Belt states that Dukakis clearly has to win if he has any chance of stopping Bush.Dukakis urged voters late in the game to reject the status quo he claims the Republican offers while the vice president worked to gain a wider margin over the Massachusetts governor to ensure a Democratic loss.
Two national polls provided fresh evidence, however, that Bush's lead appears to be holding at a general level. An ABC News-Washington Post survey published Wednesday found a 13-point lead while CBS News judged it a 12-point edge.
Specifically, the ABC-Post poll showed Bush with 55 percent support to 42 percent for his rival among 1,099 voters questioned Wednesday to Monday. The CBS survey came up with 53 percent to 41 percent among 1,000 voters contacted Friday to Monday. The error margin for both was 3 percentage points.
If there was any good news for Dukakis, it was that 22 percent of voters in the CBS poll said they had not yet firmly decided on either candidate.
The ABC-Post effort noted many voters in each party are disturbed by the tone and tactics of this year's campaign, are dissatisfied with their nominees and would like to change the way their party chooses its next standard-bearer.
An ABC "Good Morning America" statewide poll in Illinois, conducted Monday and Tuesday of 502 likely voters, showed Bush leading Dukakis 48 percent to 47 percent. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.
A Pennsylvania Poll showed the two candidates deadlocked in the Keystone State. The poll, published Wednesday and conducted for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Philadelphia Daily News, had Bush and Dukakis running even at 46 percent apiece. The survey was taken from Friday to Sunday and had an overall margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.
Dukakis, who traveled to Minneapolis Tuesday night to visit his hospitalized wife, Kitty, opened the final week of the bitter campaign by rejecting the new polls and maintaining he has cut into Bush's lead.
"You can feel it; you can taste it; you can sense it!" he told a town meeting in Youngstown, Ohio. "Don't make him president yet. President Bush. That has a bad sound. Vice President (Dan) Quayle sounds even worse, doesn't it?"
With shirtsleeves rolled up, Dukakis pointed out Bush "has never been" to economically depressed eastern Ohio "and he probably won't be" - a clear indication, he said, of the differences between the candidates.
"The vice president loves to talk about labels," he said. "You know the only label I'm interested in: Made in America."
But while stressing pro-labor themes, the governor acknowledged, "I don't have a magic wand. I'm not going to tell you I can come in here and create 15,000 to 20,000 jobs."
Bush, meanwhile, at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., struck back by describing his opponent as a man guided more by abstract theories than by "old-fashioned common sense."
"I suspect he's guided more by ideas about the way men and women should be than the way they are," the vice president said. "I'm being a little facetious here. But I'm also making a larger point. You can become, for all your intellectual attainment, disconnected from common sense."
Attempting to define his goals in broad terms, the Republican went on, "Let me tell you about the changes I wish to make, starting with what I won't do and then tell you what I will.
"I won't raise your taxes. I won't accept big, new spending. I won't allow what seems to be the desire of the liberals in Congress to `Europeanize' the American economy. I won't let anyone balance the budget by gutting defense."
Bush said he was "prepared to meet with" Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev "at the earliest time" - not to achieve a "grand breakthrough" but "to engage in a serious and direct examination of where we are and how we can best go forward toward further arms reductions, a decrease in regional tensions and further adherence to human rights and to . . . a sure peace."