Michael Dukakis disparaged Republican George Bush on Friday for "a losing strategy" of attacking the Democrat's background, but Bush retorted that Democrats have been hitting him with "all kinds of personal attacks."
Also, Democratic officials meeting in Michigan expressed optimism about crafting a platform to Dukakis' liking that would also meet Jesse Jackson's standards.Rep. William Gray III of Pennsylvania, the drafting committee chairman, said at the opening session on Mackinac Island, Mich, "As we go through the discussion of issues - drugs, education, civil rights, health care . . . hopefully they'll realize that their differences are not that great and begin to come to a consensus on their own."
In Boston, Dukakis was asked how he planned to respond to attacks in which Bush called him an elitist with close ties to Harvard University.
"I don't," he said. "I'm going to campaign on the issues. I'm going to talk about the future."
Asked if he would bring up Bush's background - which includes Yale University - Dukakis retorted:
"I really am not interested. I don't think the American people are interested. I think that's a losing strategy."
Bush didn't retreat an inch from the attacks he had made Thursday, saying the Democrats are trying to hide the Massachusetts governor's liberal stands.
"There's this whole concept that he's a conservative and all," Bush said. "It's a game plan by the Democrats to protect him from his record."
Bush, in Denver for the first of three unity rallies planned across the country by the Republican National Committee, complained about Dukakis campaign aides saying he is mudslinging.
"You're looking at a guy who's been getting hit for six months, guilt by association, and all kinds of personal attacks," the vice president said. "What happens now, they raise the mudslinging thing. . . . This is going to be a fun campaign."
The Massachusetts governor faced questions about whether he would move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv - a very touchy issue in the Middle East. Jerusalem, a holy city in three major religious traditions, is claimed by Jews and Arabs in the regional conflict.
First, he said the embassy should "go where the host nation says its capital is."
Pressed on specifics on Jerusalem, which Israel claims as its capital, Dukakis finally said: "I'd put our embassy there."
Secretary of State George Shultz said earlier Friday that such a move "would ruin" Middle East peace efforts.