Michael Dukakis rallied supporters at a church Friday with a declaration that "11 days is an eternity" and time enough to catch George Bush before Election Day. Bush suggested Americans would wake up to a gloomy morning if Dukakis should win.
Bush celebrated like the front-runner he is Thursday night at a party at Bob Hope's house. But Dukakis also was upbeat at a rally Friday at a Baptist church in Kansas City, Mo. "In politics, as you all know, 11 days is an eternity," Dukakis said. "There is time to do it."He was introduced by the Rev. Wallace S. Hartsfield, who said that during the Reagan administration there have been "a few at the head of the table who refuse to pass the bread."
Dukakis, who hosted a town meeting Thursday night in nearby Independence, Harry Truman's hometown, said he was inspired by the visit and confident he could, like Truman, pull off an upset.
To win he will have to defy the polls much as Truman did in 1948. The newest batch - including one Thursday showing a nine-point Bush lead - range from eight to 15 points.
Bush said Thursday night that he would not be "talking on the negative side" in the closing days of the race, but that didn't seem to last long. He told a business group in Los Angeles Friday that Dukakis "wants to torpedo the prosperity we've worked so hard to achieve."
Bush said, "Peace means you can sleep at night knowing the world will still be there in the morning; prosperity means you can sleep at night knowing that opportunity will still be there in the morning.
"But I ask you to consider: What kind of morning would electing the liberal governor of Massachusetts bring?" Bush said. "Will it be gloomy? Will the dark clouds of pessimism and limited possibility obscure our vision?"
Thursday night, at a stop in Kansas City, Dukakis sat for a 14-minute interview with Dan Rather on the CBS "Evening News" where he conceded that GOP advertising had hurt his candidacy.
"There's no mystery about why they put those ads on. They have done damage. There's no question about that," he said.
Dukakis suggested that Bush resorted to the commercials "to divert public attention from the fact that this administration has probably had more corruption and malfeasance than any in recent memory, if not in history."
The Democratic nominee continued to campaign in Missouri Friday before heading to Michigan and later Boston. Dukakis' running mate, Lloyd Bentsen, was focusing on California - and its electoral prize of 47 votes - before returning to his home state of Texas.
Bush was also targeting California before traveling to Nebraska where he planned a joint appearance with Sen. David Karnes. The Republican candidate faces an uphill battle with former Nebraska Gov. Bob Kerrey for the Senate seat.
Republican vice presidential candidate Dan Quayle was touring the "Pennsylvania Dutch" region and scheduled a series of appearances at the state's high schools.
The Republican ticket, according to an NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll released Thursday, leads Dukakis-Bentsen 51 percent to 42 percent, considerably closer than the 17 points in a similar poll done just after the Oct. 13 debate.
The survey, conducted among 1,285 likely voters, had a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.
The survey also showed Bush capturing 56 percent of the so-called Reagan Democrats compared to 37 percent for Dukakis. The rivals were about evenly split among blue-collar workers.
In Independence, Dukakis speculated about how Truman would have fared in a modern presidential race "in this age of communication and negative campaigning," but said he had no doubts about one thing: "If he were around today, I wouldn't imagine him supporting George Bush. He would be foursquare for the Democratic ticket."
Not so, according to Reagan, who rushed to fight on the same field.
"Harry Truman's party believed in working Americans and in keeping America's defenses strong and, yes, in `one nation under God,' " the president told an airport rally in Springfield, Mo., just a few hours before Dukakis' event. "Today, the party that believes in that is stronger than ever. It's called the Republican Party."
Sounding another point made by Dukakis, who insisted again Thursday that the election "is up for grabs," Reagan said, "Yes, the election is up for grabs."
Meanwhile, the Dukakis campaign announced that it is doubling its budget for Hispanic ads, targeting seven states with large Hispanic voter populations.
The campaign also is spending about $3 million - 10 percent of its media budget - on black-oriented television and radio ads which began three weeks ago. In five of the radio ads, former Democratic candidate Jesse Jackson tells listeners, "We have the power to make Mike Dukakis president. Let's use it."