George Bush and Michael Dukakis, formerly bitter rivals, met cordially Friday though Dukakis resorted to campaign rhetoric when he warned "the chickens are coming home to roost" from Republican economic policies.
Bush, who defeated the Democratic governor of Massachusetts for the presidency on Nov. 8, said the post-election visit was "in the finest tradition of American politics."The president-elect, who instigated the meeting, said, "I want to express my appreciation to Governor Dukakis for coming our way. We had good discussion of the issues that are facing the country in a spirit of good will."
Dukakis also called it a good discussion. He offered no judgment on Bush's early transition moves, saying, "The real test will come when the new administration is fully formed and begins to move forward with its priorities."
Vice President-elect Dan Quayle, often the object of Dukakis' scorn during the campaign, greeted him inside the vice president's residence, along with James Baker III, Bush's campaign manager and his choice for secretary of state. Both left before Bush's 35-minute meeting with Dukakis.
After the visit, the two stepped out without topcoats into the brisk afternoon for a brief word with reporters.
Dukakis, who earlier Friday made a series of calls on the Democratic leaders of Congress, said he and Bush "talked about the future. I expressed my concern obviously about the deficit" and some of the issues the Democrats campaigned on - better health care, housing, education and the environment.
He said he didn't bring up the negative tenor of the campaign. "We had a good, tough campaign. That's behind us," Dukakis said. "The question now is how do we build a good country."
The governor joked that he was hesitant to offer Bush advice on the deficit given his own problems with his state's budget. But then he said in earnest that the country faces "a very formidable challenge. We've had eight years of endless borrowing and spending and the chickens are coming home to roost."
He said, "The vice president is anxious to learn and listen and reach out and that's a good thing."
Bush left him with a seasonal wish: "God bless you and have a great Christmas."
Earlier, Bush met at the White House with former GOP rival Pat Robertson.