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″Wimp” Factor Surfaces Again

September 27, 1985

CHICAGO (AP) _ The election is more than a year away, but Adlai Stevenson III and Gov. James Thompson have taken up where they left off in 1982 - squabbling over who’s a ″wimp″ and who’s got ″holes in his head.″

Stevenson, who plans to announce his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Illinois governor Oct. 22, said Thursday that Thompson had pleaded 4-F to avoid military service in his youth.

Thompson, a Republican who is seeking an unprecedented fourth term, would ″come out the wimp″ in their second campaign, Stevenson said in remarks taped for a program to be broadcast Sunday on WBBM-AM.

The ″wimp″ issue was first raised by Stevenson in 1982, when the former senator complained that Thompson was trying to portray him as an ineffectual elitist.

″He is saying, ‘Me tough guy,’ as if to imply that I’m some kind of wimp,″ Stevenson said at the time.

Thompson responded, ″I have never called Adlai Stevenson a wimp,″ and said he didn’t know what a wimp was.

Stevenson lost in 1982 to Thompson by the narrowest margin in modern state history.

On Thursday, responding to Stevenson’s latest remarks, the governor said: ″Of course, I was 4-F. What’s that got to do with anything?″

Thompson attributed his draft rating to ″asthma, hernia, whatever the doctors said,″ and added:

″I don’t write the rules. If this is where his (Stevenson’s) campaign is starting, where will it end?″

The running feud between Thompson and Stevenson resurfaced earlier this week.

Referring to Stevenson’s August comment that ″the sap is rising″ while he contemplated another run for governor, Thompson had said Tuesday: ″The sap’s not rising. It’s leaking. He’s got holes in his head.″

Asked Thursday about that statement, Stevenson bristled.

″I’m the Marine Corps veteran, the one who volunteered for combat in Korea after getting out of college,″ he said. ″He pleads 4-F, pleads asthma, and then he’s the tough one.

″I wasn’t the antique dealer running for the governorship last time,″ Stevenson said, a reference to Thompson’s reputation as an antique collector.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Neil Hartigan, another Democratic candidate, wants to stay out of the feud and dwell on more important issues, a spokeswoman said Friday.

″He thinks that the whole discussion between Stevenson and Thompson is a waste of breath,″ Jeanne Marie Schultz said. ″What this campaign needs to focus on are the issues in Illinois - like the fact that Illinois ranks first for loss of manufacturing jobs.″

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