Gov. Michael S. Dukakis called the dwindling days before the election a political "eternity" with enough time to pull off an upset, while Republican rival Vice President George Bush accused him yesterday of wanting to "torpedo the prosperity."
The Democrat said the race was "tightening up all over the country." And he said that Bush, leading in the polls with 11 days to go, was hiding "in his little cocoon," with advisers afraid to let him engage in news programs' give-and-take while Dukakis has been appearing on many such programs.
Bush, speaking to a group of businessmen in Los Angeles, said that as Americans step into voting booths, they should keep peace and prosperity in mind.
"Peace means you can sleep at night knowing the world will still be there in the morning; prosperity means you can sleep at night knowing that opportunity will still be there in the morning," the vice president said.
Despite a pledge to shun negative campaigning between now and the election, Bush also stayed on the attack, warning that Dukakis "wants to torpedo the prosperity we've worked so hard to achieve."
"I ask you to consider: What kind of morning would electing the liberal governor of Massachusetts bring? Will it be gloomy?" Bush asked. "Will the dark clouds of pessimism and limited possibility obscure our vision?"
Bush also disputed Dukakis' assertion that American families have been able to keep up financially only because more women have been working outside their homes.
"Frankly, that strikes me as sexist--because it implies that women wouldn't work unless they had to," the GOP presidential nominee said.
Bush also spoke at the California Highway Patrol Academy in Sacramento and received endorsements from the California Correctional Peace Officers Association and the International Association of Correctional Officers.
In his remarks there, he said, "You might almost say that the Democratic Party today suffers from a split personality with a rank and file made up of some of the best of America, the silent majority....But the leadership, much of it, is a remnant of the '60s, the new left, those campus radicals grown old, the peace marchers and the nuclear freeze activists."
Dukakis wound up a trip to Missouri by suggesting his campaign could be struck by the same political lightning that returned favorite son Harry Truman to the White House in 1948.
"In politics, as you all know, 11 days is an eternity," Dukakis said at a morning rally at a Kansas City Baptist church before he flew to Detroit. "There is time to do it."
Dukakis' trip to the Detroit suburbs brought him to within a few miles of the factory where the helmeted candidate's ride in a tank a few weeks ago--to show his support for building up conventional forces--turned into a public relations disaster. The Republicans even used film of it in a commercial to ridicule him.
"Let me tell you why I was in that tank factory," Dukakis said. "I care about those people. I care about what they're making."
Meanwhile, Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, Dukakis' vice presidential running mate, was drawing upon the memory of fellow Texan Lyndon Johnson, whose presidential library in Austin was the site for an evening campaign rally.
Republican vice presidential candidate Dan Quayle took a bus tour through Pennsylvania, trying to avert complacency that could keep his ticket's supporters from going to the polls on Nov. 8.
"We're not taking anything for granted," he said.