Michael Dukakis and George Bush hurtled tirelessly through a final weekend of campaigning, the underdog Democrat vowing Saturday to work for those living on "the family budget, not the family fortune," while his rival pledged he wouldn't be "outhustled by the liberal governor from Massachusetts."
The two combatants raced across America at a pace that defied endurance while their managers were pouring millions of dollars into a campaign-ending television advertising drive.The Republicans professed no public concern that their lead might be dwindling in the race's final days. "George Bush is not jittery. Dan Quayle is not jittery," said the No. 2 man on the ticket.
The latest polls agreed Bush still leads, but differed on the trend. CBS reported a margin of 52-43, a slight gain for Bush over results broadcast 24 hours earlier. Pollster Louis Harris said Bush led 51-44, with the trend slightly in Dukakis' favor.
Candidates in the 33 Senate races and 435 House contests on Tuesday's ballot also went through a final weekend of working, as did the two dozen rivals contesting the 12 statehouse races. Democrats were rated as favorites to renew their control in the Senate and prohibitive favorites to hold a majority in the new House.
Everyone was straining for the finish line of a campaign marathon.
"We are all very tired," said Barbara Bush, speaking for candidates and their entourages everywhere.
Despite the fatigue, there was no letup with the election three days away.
Dukakis used increasingly sharp tones to criticize Republican vice presidential candidate Quayle and accused Bush of running a campaign of "lies and just plain garbage."
"I think the Republican Party began celebrating a little early, don't you?" Dukakis said to his crowds as he made his way through four states. "They're taking you for granted."
Bush also had four states on his itinerary, although aides were juggling his schedule to counter Dukakis' moves. He knocked on doors in one New Jersey neighborhood, made a few get-out-the-vote telephone calls, painted a campaign sign and told reporters, "I don't believe in polls. Let someone else sort out all these polls."
Bush aides spread the word that their own polls showed a modest improvement in the vice president's support overnight, and claimed a lead in the range of 8-10 points nationally. Democrats said it was more like five or six points.
An Associated Press tabulation showed Bush leading for as many as 359 electoral votes. But many of them were from states where Dukakis seemed to be gaining, and the vice president could not count on the 270 needed for victory. The survey showed Dukakis leading for as many as 101 electoral votes, while 78 votes were in states rated as tossups, including Pennsylvania, Missouri and Illinois.
In Utah, Bush is way ahead. In a Deseret News/KSL-TV poll taken by Dan Jones & Associates last week, 64 percent said they will vote for the Bush/Quayle ticket, 28 percent for the Dukakis/Bentsen ticket, 2 percent said they'd vote for the Libertarian ticket of Ron Paul and Andre Marrou, 1 percent said they'd vote for someone else and 5 percent didn't know.
President Reagan campaigned for Bush and the Republicans in his weekly radio address, and he dusted off an old standby from past campaigns in personal appearances in Michigan and Texas.
"We need you to ride with us," he told a crowd at a rodeo center in Mesquite, Texas. "And if you would, I hope you'll help win just one more for the Gipper."
Democratic vice presidential candidate Lloyd Bentsen delivered the Democratic response to Reagan's radio address and campaigned in California. He accused Bush of false campaign advertising and said the Republican philosophy is, "If it sounds good, we're going to say it, never mind the facts."