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Reagan Offers No Apologies for ‘L-Word’ With AM-Political Rdp Bjt

October 26, 1988

BALTIMORE (AP) _ President Reagan said Wednesday he will keep branding the Democratic Party ticket as liberal because ″if the label fits, they ought to wear it.″

At the same time, Reagan, campaigning for Republican nominee George Bush in mostly Democratic Maryland, defended the vice president’s hard-driving campaign rhetoric against Democrat Michael Dukakis.

″And now they’re squealing, he’s running a negative campaign,″ the president said. ″Well, I think they’re squirming because George has shown America how far outside the mainstream they really are.″

Reagan’s spoke to a fund-raising luncheon for Maryland GOP senatorial candidate Alan Keyes on the eve of a weeklong campaign foray to California and several other states. The president will make appearances in Little Rock, Ark., Springfield, Mo., and San Diego on Thursday before traveling to Los Angeles.

The White House also announced that toward the end of the trip, Reagan will attend a rally for Sen. Chic Hecht, R-Nev., in Reno next Tuesday and then go to Wisconsin to campaign for Senate candidate Susan Engeleiter.

Since Labor Day, Reagan has visited 13 states, the bulk of them in the heavily competitive industrial Midwest and in key mid-Atlantic border states.

Reagan traveled by helicopter to downtown Bltimore in what was his first campaign appearance this year in Maryland, a key border state that has been shown by polls to be leaning toward Bush despite its heavy Democratic registration and voting record.

Invoking the ″L-word″ - Reagan’s codeword for liberal - the president likened Dukakis to incumbent Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., without actually using either one’s names.

″The incumbent and the stealth candidate at the top of the liberal ticket are so alike they could be twins,″ he said.

″Now, some people think I shouldn’t be using the L-word,″ Reagan said. ″They say I’m labeling them.″

″What should we call those people who oppose the death penalty? Who support policies that hand out weekend furloughs to convicted murderers? Who support laws that make it easier for a criminal to own a gun than law-abiding citizens who want to protect their homes and children?″ he asked.

″As I say, I thought about it, and then I decided that if the label fits, they ought to wear it,″ Reagan said.

Reagan urged Maryland Republicans to work hard for Keyes, a former State Department and United Nations official who is challenging Sarbanes, a Democrat seeking re-election to a third term.

The president said Keyes is ″running for Senate against an incumbent you don’t hear a lot about while the Senate’s in session. Some say he stays out of the limelight because he doesn’t like publicity.″

″I think it’s because if the good people of Maryland knew more about him, they’d figure out the kind of senator he really is, and he’d have to leave town faster than the guy who packed up the Colts and whisked them off to Indiana in the middle of the night.″

Reagan was referring to Robert Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts of the National Football League, who moved his team out of Baltimore at the end of the 1983 season.

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