George Bush charged Monday that Michael Dukakis advocates policies that would return America "to the misery" inherited by the Reagan administration in 1981, while Jesse Jackson accused the Democratic front-runner of caution "where we must operate with courage, clarity and candor."
Dukakis, anticipating landslide presidential primary victories Tuesday in Ohio and Indiana, turned Jackson's comments aside by saying, "I'm not just a talker. I'm a doer."The Massachusetts governor, returning Republican fire, also took aim at embattled Attorney General Edwin Meese III. "We want an attorney general that you and I can be proud of, not ashamed of," he said.
Dukakis added that the Reagan administration has failed to provide sufficient funding for day-care programs for children.
Jackson addressed economics as well during the day, calling for a gradual increase in the federal minimum wage from the current $3.35 an hour to $5.50 an hour by 1993. The last increase occurred Jan. 1, 1981.
Ohio, Indiana and the District of Columbia offer a total of 254 Democratic National Convention delegates in Tuesday's primaries. Dukakis is heavily favored to defeat Jackson in Ohio and Indiana and may capture 200 or more delegates in the three races combined, thus padding his substantial lead over his sole remaining opponent.
The Massachusetts governor has nearly 1,300 of the 2,081 delegates needed to claim the nomination, according to The Associated Press count. The slow, steady trickle of party leaders to Dukakis' side continued during the day, as Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia announced his support.
Jackson is favored to win the District of Columbia primary.
Bush already has enough delegates to assure his nomination at the GOP convention in August and has no active Republican opposition in Tuesday's primaries.
The day's campaign comments fit a pattern that has emerged in recent days, with the vice president criticizing Dukakis for being inexperienced and advocating policies that are too liberal and Jackson seeking to prod his Democratic rival into moving to the left.
In a day of campaigning in Indiana, Bush said the issues in the fall would be peace and jobs and added, "The country wants to move ahead, not go back to the misery we inherited through the very policies Jackson and Dukakis are talking about."
"Inexperience in foreign policy could hurt not only our national security but also our economic strength," Bush said.
The vice president visited a factory where Hummer defense vehicles are made and promised to try and keep the production line open.