Bush Looks For Running Mate; Dukakis Begins Seven-State Tour
Undated (AP) _ Republican George Bush said today the guessing game about his vice presidential running mate is inevitable and he hopes it won’t demean anyone involved. Democrat Michael Dukakis, speaking on ethics, said Bush should have been calling for Edwin Meese’s resignation since last spring.
Dukakis, in a speech in Secaucus, N.J., also referred in dismissive fashion to Bush’s statement Tuesday that he would create a White House ethics office headed by a senior counselor.
″In a Dukakis White House, the ethics office will be in the Oval Office, not someplace down the hall,″ the Democratic presidential nominee said.
Meese has announced his resignation and said he will soon leave his post as attorney general, but Dukakis said Bush, the Republican vice president, should have been demanding Meese’s ouster last April after top Justice Department officials resigned.
Bush has begun sending out questionnaires seeking background information from potential running mates, including former rival Jack Kemp.
The vice president, in comments to reporters outside his White House office today, named no names.
He said, ″The process is going along in an orderly fashion. ... Hopefully, it won’t be demeaning to anyone.″
As for the growing list of Republicans believed to be among potential candidates, Bush said, ″You can’t avoid speculation.″
Dukakis arrived in Newark, N.J., at mid-morning and was to visit a day care center in Secaucus later in the day before heading for Cleveland. He will return to Boston Saturday night after visiting seven states.
Before leaving the Statehouse on Wednesday, Dukakis continued his duties as Massachusetts governor by signing a number of bills, including crime legislation and the final piece of a plan to balance the 1988 budget.
Dukakis dismissed Bush’s repeated criticism of a Massachusetts furlough program that allowed passes to first-degree murderers. The program was later amended, but not until after one of the prisoners escaped from a furlough and raped a Maryland woman.
″I’ve got a record,″ Dukakis said, referring to statistics showing his state’s crime rate had dropped 13 percent in the past four years. ″I don’t know what the vice president’s record is.″
He was riding a post-convention wave of enthusiasm, with the latest NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll giving him an 18-point lead over Bush.
Running mate Lloyd Bentsen was in San Francisco after telling a business women’s group in Albuquerque, N.M., that ″the gender gap ... wasn’t created by accident.″
He told the National Federation of Business and Professional Women, which Bush had addressed Sunday, that the GOP record on the Equal Rights Amendment, equal pay and other issues pushed women into the Democratic camp.
Bush, the certain nominee at the Republican National Convention in New Orleans Aug. 15, remained in Washington while more feelers went out for prospective running mates.
Kemp, the New York congressman, and Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico were among those receiving requests for background information, Republican sources said.
Kemp aide Marci Robinson said the congressman met with Robert Kimmitt, a Washington attorney who is helping screen possible running mates, and would provide the material to the Bush campaign within a week.
New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu has said he received a questionnaire from Bush campaign officials.
In addition to Kemp, the names mentioned most frequently in the speculation include Senate Republican Leader Bob Dole and California Gov. George Deukmejian. Several women’s names also crop up, including Sen. Nancy Kassebaum of Kansas and Dole’s wife, Elizabeth, a former secretary of transportation.
Aides to Sen. Dole, Deukmejian, former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander, Rep. Lynn Martin of Illinois, Sens. Richard Lugar of Indiana and Alan Simpson of Wyoming and Illinois Gov. James Thompson all said they had not received questionnaires.
Jesse Jackson, meanwhile, met briefly with Democratic National Committee Chairman Paul Kirk in Chicago to discuss Jackson’s role in campaigning for the party’s presidential and local candidates. Neither side would give details on what was discussed.
The former presidential candidate said late Wednesday he has been trying to meet with the foreign minister of Iran in an attempt to discuss the possible release of Americans being held in Lebanon.
″No meetings have been set, but I have been making appeals, through diplomats, to set up a meeting,″ Jackson said in a telephone interview from his Chicago home.
Today, however, he said, in an interview that ″no meeting has been set, and no meeting has been sought.″
In an interview published today in USA Today, Bush said of a possible Jackson role as an unofficial envoy, ″It shouldn’t happen. We’re talking about very sensitive foreign policy. The administration is empowered to conduct those negotiations at the United Nations. We don’t need any loose cannons rolling around the deck.″
Jackson’s reaction: ″My moral appeals and humanitarian pleas to gain the release of American hostages is a consistent one. In some sense I have never stopped trying to get hostages free, and George Bush has never started.″
″We should not lower the dignity of this effort to gain the freedom of Americans held hostage with name calling,″ Jackson added when asked about Bush’s comments. ″If he wants to operate in that level, that’s his judgment.″
Jackson has said he will campaign for Dukakis, but details have not yet been worked out.
Surveys have been suggesting Dukakis got a boost following last week’s convention. In the latest poll - a telephone survey of 1,770 registered voters conducted Saturday through Monday - Dukakis received 50 percent support to 32 percent for Bush. Dukakis had led by 10 points, 46-36, in a pre-convention NBC-Journal poll.
The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.