WASHINGTON -- Wayne T. Gilchrest is not going to let voters forget that he served in Vietnam while Rep. Roy P. Dyson, D-1st, was a conscientious objector.
Today, Adrian Cronauer, the former Air Force deejay whom Robin Williams played in the hit movie, "Good Morning, Vietnam," will say, "Good m-o-r-n-i-n-g, Maryland," while taping a radio campaign commercial for Gilchrest, Dyson's Republican challenger.
In the 30-second message, Cronauer will emphasize the war record of "Gilchrest, a Marine who won the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star in Vietnam." It concludes, "Wayne Gilchrest is a man of character who answered the call, then . . . and now. He's ready to serve his country once more, in Congress."
Although it won't mention Dyson by name, Gilchrest's aides believe the commercial will keep alive the controversy over Dyson's belated disclosure in August of his C.O. status.
The commercial underscores Gilchrest's determination to capitalize on his war record and make greater use of national Republican Party professionals than he did in his 1988 campaign against Dyson.
Gilchrest's aides say the commercial, the second in which he features his Vietnam record, was the idea of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
The NRCC is providing Gilchrest with professional staff and technical help. It gave him another boost by arranging a meeting yesterday with President Bush in the White House.
Gilchrest emerged from the five-minute meeting with a presidential endorsement and supportive words for the federal budget plan supported by Bush but defeated by the House last week. The plan included sharp increases in gasoline taxes and Medicare charges, which provoked public opposition that helped doom it.
Dyson voted to kill that plan, but Gilchrest remains a firm supporter and says he believes senior citizens and the general public would accept the burden.
"I think these stiff hikes in Medicare would be able to be absorbed," Gilchrest said. "I think most senior citizens are the kind of people who would say, if I can help in this budget crisis, I'll help."
Gilchrest's support for increased taxes on gasoline, cigarettes, alcohol and luxury items -- key features of the former plan and others circulating still on Capitol Hill -- deviates from the message in a campaign commercial he's running now.
"Wayne Gilchrest has signed the taxpayers' protection pledge and will work for taxpayers, not to tax them more," the commercial says.
Dyson's campaign manager, Christopher Robinson, said he is "not surprised that Mr. Gilchrest would support a budget where the spending cuts would fall disproportionately on senior citizens." He said in 1988 Gilchrest supported a freeze on cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security recipients.
Robinson also rebutted Cronauer's implicit criticism of Dyson's draft record.
"I think that the people of the 1st District and through America can understand how an individual would object to the Vietnam War because millions of Americans objected to the Vietnam War," Robinson said. "It wasn't until after their voices were heard that America got out of what 90 to 95 percent of America believes today was a wrong war."
Dyson had said over the years that he obtained student exemptions during the war. He didn't mention that he later obtained a C.O. exemption until a newspaper was about to report that fact.