LEVITTOWN, N.Y.--Democratic presidential nominee Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, bidding for the support of young middle class voters, proposed yesterday allowing first-time home buyers to use up to $10,000 of their IRAs for a down payment.
While outlining his housing proposal, Dukakis also sounded an optimistic note in the face of polls showing him trailing Republican George Bush. He told a partisan crowd at Gen. Douglas MacArthur High School, "This one is out there to be won. You know it and I know it.
"We can taste it; we can feel it."
A pair of surveys released yesterday gave Dukakis reason for optimism. They show the Republican ticket of Bush and Indiana Sen. Dan Quayle in a virtual dead heat with Dukakis and Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen. Quayle was seen as having a negative impact in both surveys.
A Los Angeles Times survey showed the Republican ticket leading the Democratic ticket 44 percent to 41 percent. But when Bush and Dukakis were pitted against against each other without their respective running mates, Bush led 48-39. A 5 point margin of error closed the difference in both cases.
In an ABC News-Washington Post poll, Bush had 50 percent to 47 percent for Dukakis. That survey also had a 5 point margin of error.
The Times poll, conducted over the weekend by telephone, also found that Bentsen far outperformed Quayle in last week's vice presidential debate. But it also found that Dukakis had a 45 percent unfavorable rating, compared with 40 percent unfavorable rating for Quayle.
The ABC-Post poll, in an effort to assess the Quayle "drag" among the electorate, found that 2 percent of all voters supported Dukakis only because of their negative feelings about Quayle, and 6 percent said Quayle was the "major" reason for supporting Dukakis.
Dukakis spoke early in the day in one of the communities that came to symbolize the post-World War II home-building boom and recalled bipartisan efforts to "promise to provide affordable housing for all Americans."
He said the Reagan administration "broke that promise in the early 1980s."
From Levittown, Dukakis went to midtown Manhattan to march in the annual Columbus Day parade.
With New York Gov. Mario Cuomo at his side and Mayor Edward Koch just behind him, Dukakis walked up Fifth Avenue on a clear cool day to the cheers of a largely friendly crowd.
John F. Kennedy Jr., who was on crutches after breaking his foot in a bicycling accident, marched part of the way with Dukakis.
Red, white and blue Dukakis-Bentsen signs lined the route, punctuated only rarely by Bush placards.
While Dukakis appeared to have the parade crowd on his side, Bush received the endorsement of Il Progresso, the nation's largest Italian language daily newspaper.