Jesse Jackson, responding to Vice President George Bush's characterization of him as a "hustler from Chicago," said Saturday the remark spotlighted Bush's tendency to "lash out when he panics."

Jackson, who spoke with reporters at a tiny Mission District park before serving as grand marshal in the annual Cinco de Mayo parade, questioned whether Bush had the stability to lead the nation."Name-calling by the vice president is beneath the dignity of the office," Jackson said. "Bush will not call Ed Meese a name" despite controversy surrounding the attorney general, he added.

"Bush has a tendency to lash out when he panics," Jackson said, speculating that "the thought of having to debate me petrified Mr. Bush."

Jackson disputed Bush's ability to run the country because "he has a tendency to lash out when he panics. He feels my footprints coming."

Going even further, Jackson said, "We would be at national risk if he held (the presidency). A person who runs this office must have a sense of stability. His tendency to be mean- spirited is a behavior pattern."

California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, head of Jackson's campaign, said it was the fear of looking bad next to Jackson that explained Democratic front-runner Michael Dukakis's abscence from Friday night's $1 million party fundraiser in San Francisco.

The dinner, staged by the "Victory '88" coalition of business and labor, elected officials and party activists, was the first of its kind ever to raise $1 million, its sponsors said.

"I think Dukakis hurt himself by not showing up," Brown said. "It was the major Northern California event this year. But, I don't blame him. The comparison would have been obvious because Jesse is such a presence and, of course, he is the ultimate showman."

Jackson was a huge hit with the thousands of people who lined Mission District streets eight-deep to watch the colorful Cinco de Mayo parade. The candidate was invited to be grand marshal, parade organizer Herberto Rodriguez said, not because of politics but because of Jackson's record of civil rights activism and his positions on issues crucial to Hispanics.