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Jackson Says He’s Even With Dukakis, Faces Bush Supporters With AM-Political Rdp Bjt

April 22, 1988

WEST CHESTER, Pa. (AP) _ Jesse Jackson sought on Friday to bolster his support in the Philadelphia area, where he already has the support of the mayor and a major newspaper for Tuesday’s state Democratic primary.

Friday night, he and Dukakis were to debate at the University of Pennsylvania in their first meeting since Tennessee Sen. Albert Gore suspended his bid for the Democratic nomination after a disappointing third-place finish in New York.

At West Chester State University, Jackson was greeted at a rally by about 1,000 students, including about 200 waving blue and white placards for Republican George Bush. The placards were distributed before the rally by a campus Republican group.

At the close of Jackson’s remarks, a dozen of the Bush supporters began chanting the vice president’s name as Jackson led the crowd in a cheer of his own: ″Stop drugs. Save jobs.″

Jackson talked of his competition with Democratic front-runner Michael Dukakis in his remarks, contending they were virtually even.

″The field once was crowded, but now there are three, three survivors ... Bush, Dukakis and me, and here we are and here we go,″ Jackson said. ″We’re running neck and neck. I’m a long-distance runner and I don’t lose stride.″

His aides noted that he is close behind Dukakis in total votes in primaries to date, although Dukakis has a substantial lead in delegates to the national convention.

On Saturday, the two remaining Democrats planned to meet in another debate in Pittsburgh, where Jackson’s support is uncertain.

Jackson met with editorial boards of the Philadelphia Daily News and the Inquirer Friday morning, then canceled an early afternoon appearance in Philadelphia before heading for West Chester.

He renewed his criticism of President Reagan’s Central American policies, telling the students, ″Your generation must go beyond war in Latin America. We’re not threatened by three million Sandinistas. And, if so, we can’t be saved by 15,000 Contras.″

Alluding to the administration oft-quoted contention that Nicaragua is the ″back door″ to the United States, Jackson said the nation is actually ″next door″ and a possible ally.

Jackson also questioned the administration’s commitment to student aid.

″If you were about to lose your scholarship, who would you want to argue your case?″ he asked. ″When I win, you win. When I win, scholarships win.″

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