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Bentsen Raps Bush’s Energy Policies on Texas-Oklahoma Tour With AM-Political Rdp Bjt

September 20, 1988

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Sen. Lloyd Bentsen stumped Tuesday across the economically depressed oil lands of Texas and Oklahoma, telling voters their troubles were George Bush’s fault and promising that Michael Dukakis would get oil wells pumping again.

Bentsen, the Democratic vice president candidate, said Dukakis will ″light a fire″ under federal regulators blocking the sale of natural gas to the Northeast.

The Texas senator also promised an audience of 1,500 people in a downtown Oklahoma City square that a Democratic administration would use tax incentives and other subsidies to revive oil production in the Southwest.

Dukakis, the Democratic nominee and governor of Massachusetts, said Monday that if he is elected Nov. 8, Bentsen would head his energy policy panel.

″In 1981, there were 755 rigs operating in Oklahoma and today you have 129. That’s what George Bush has done for the energy states,″ Bentsen said. ″Two out of five jobs in the energy business disappeared - and they were good, high-paying jobs.″

″But the Republicans like to ask: Are you better off today than you were in 1980? They had better not ask that question in Oklahoma or Texas, because the answer is no,″ he said, making the first appearance in Oklahoma by either Democratic candidate.

Sen. David Boren, D-Okla., who introduced Bentsen at the rally, said his troubled state is receptive to the Democrats’ message, especially with Bentsen on the ticket, but it will be tough to win voters over to a Northeasterner for president.

″It’s going to take an educational effort. It’s going to take a strong push,″ Boren told reporters.

Even though Democrats have a 2-1 edge over Republicans in voter registration in his state, Boren said, Oklahomans tend to be ticket-splitters who vote Republican for president.

Four years ago, he said, ″I got 76 percent, Ronald Reagan got 71 percent.″ President Reagan actually got 69 percent in Oklahoma in 1984.

Bentsen appeared Monday night at an energy forum in Houston and headed out Tuesday to press his contention that Republicans did not deserve the support of the Southwest oil region.

″They talk a good game, but they don’t do anything,″ Bentsen told an airport rally in East Texas at the Longview airport, were he stood in front of an oil rig and a huge American flag.

Bentsen said the number of Texas rigs totaled about 1,300 in 1981 but had since declined to about 250.

″I tell you, their record is as empty as Dan Quayle’s resume,″ he said, repeating a popular applause-getting line.

By contrast, he said, Dukakis is ″an effective, proven problem-solver″ and the first Democratic presidential candidate to endorse repeal of the windfall profits tax.

Bentsen’s speech was interrupted by the sound of a jet plane, which he used to criticize the Republicans for limiting press access to their candidates.

″That sort of reminds me of one fella I know that anytime the press asks a question he has a helicopter going,″ Bentsen said, motioning with his arms.

He was referring to President Reagan’s practice of ducking reporters’ questions with the excuse that he can’t hear them over the noise of nearby helicopters.

″Well, I’ll tell you, they’re taking their candidates (around) in a cocoon,″ Bentsen said. He said GOP campaign managers ″hold them away from the press (and then) spoon-feed the press whatever they want them to have.″

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