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Bush, Dole Backers Take Issue With Kemp’s Version Of Social Security Record With

February 1, 1988

Bush, Dole Backers Take Issue With Kemp’s Version Of Social Security Record With AM-Political Rdp Bjt

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) _ Rep. Jack Kemp’s labeling of presidential rivals George Bush and Bob Dole as threats to Social Security drew sharp retorts Monday from Bush and Dole backers who accused the New York congressman of conducting a ″scorched earth″ campaign.

In an apparently coordinated response to a Kemp mailing on Social Security, two New Hampshire officials, Gov. John Sununu and Sen. Warren Rudman, accused Kemp of distorting the record on Social Security.

Sununu, a national co-chairman of the Bush campaign, criticized the Kemp mailing as ″harsh.″

The governor said he had discussed the letter with Rudman, who is Dole’s leading backer in New Hampshire, the state that holds the first primary.

At about the same time in New Hampshire, Rudman said, ″I find his (Kemp’s) letter outrageous, and I dare say he ought to clean up his act. ... I dare say, at the least, we ought to be telling the truth about each other. We don’t have to be scaring the elderly.″

But Kemp, campaigning in northern Iowa, was staying on the same tack.

″I take strong exception to Bob Dole’s record of cutting Social Security future benefits, and I’m even more concerned about his intention, made crystal clear, to do so again,″ Kemp said during an appearance in Mason City.

He went on to say that ″George Bush is hardly blameless on the issue of cutting Social Security benefits. After all, when Bob Dole led the fight to cut future Social Security benefits, it was George Bush who cast the tie- breaking vote to accomplish it.″

The New Hampshire primary takes place eight days after the Feb. 8 Iowa caucuses.

Rudman accused Kemp of pursuing ″the politics of fear″ and said he had talked to the other New Hampshire senator, Gordon Humphrey, who is a Kemp supporter.

″I don’t hold Gordon Humphrey responsible for this,″ saiod Rudman. ″I hold Jack Kemp responsible.″

Sununu described his state’s primary as a two-man race between Bush and Dole, with the vice president holding a strong lead.

However, he noted that Kemp’s standing in New Hampshire polls was moving up.

″Kemp has run an aggressive media campaign,″ said Sununu. ″Frankly, in my opinion, a campaign that seems to have some aspects of a scorched earth policy.″

The governor said Kemp was ″stretching the fabric of Republican Party unity in some aspects.″

He referred specifically to the Kemp mailing that accuses Dole and Bush of voting to limit Social Security benefits. A similar mailing went out two weeks ago in Iowa and referred to a Senate vote in 1985 to freeze cost-of-living adjustments for all federal benefit programs including Social Security. Bush cast a critical tie-breaking vote.

Referring to the mailing, Sununu said it was ″a shame that the flavor of that was as harsh and as personalized.″

Sununu described Bush as ″a national candidate″ and said Dole, who is leading in polls of Iowa Republicans, is a ″favorite son″ in the state.

The governor contended that for that reason a Dole victory in the Feb. 8 caucuses would have less impact than it otherwise might on New Hampshire primary voters.

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