Vice President Dan Quayle flew to the Eastern Shore today to give Republican Wayne T. Gilchrest a last-minute boost while Rep. Roy P. Dyson, D-1st, met with watermen and senior citizens.
"I hope that the people not only of this congressional district but America send Congress a wake-up call," said Quayle. "If they want to change Congress, they ought to send people like Wayne Gilchrest."
Quayle and his wife, Marilyn, arrived this morning at Salisbury-Wicomico County Regional Airport in the vice president's official DC-9. It was the first of six campaign stops Quayle planned on the eve of tomorrow's elections.
Dyson, meanwhile, began the day with a predawn meeting with watermen in Cambridge. Later, he came to Salisbury and visited two adult centers.
The congressman criticized the public expense of Quayle's visit, telling senior citizens at the MAC adult center, "I am a taxpayer. They used all our police out there, all our money, so he could come into town for an hour."
Dyson reminded his audience that he had opposed proposals to increase Medicare beneficiaries' costs. "They wanted to cut $60 billion out of Medicare and not take one dime out for foreign aid," he said.
Dyson's campaign manager, Chris Robinson, dismissed Quayle's visit as unimportant.
"I don't think he inspires a lot of support so I don't think it's much of a plus," Robinson said.
Gilchrest, his wife, Barbara, and their three children were at the airport to greet Quayle. The Col. Richardson High School band from Caroline County struck up "God Bless America" as the Quayles came out of their plane, waving.
Quayle said he didn't know much about Dyson, instead praising Gilchrest as a "family man" who has the "same values" as residents of the district.
"Wayne Gilchrest is one of our top priorities," Quayle said, referring to the Republican Party's hopes of adding to Republican numbers in Congress.
Gilchrest is leading Dyson in two polls.
Quayle said his visit to the Eastern Shore "can raise the profile of the campaign." Later, he addressed a packed Republican rally with Gilchrest at the Sheraton Hotel in Salisbury.
Outside the hotel, about two dozen protesters waited for Quayle. They appeared to be criticizing President Bush's veto of civil rights legislation and the federal budget proposals that would have resulted in higher charges for Medicare beneficiaries.
"Did seniors pay for this trip?" one sign said. Another demonstrator carried a sign saying Republicans oppose Gilchrest.
Gilchrest said Quayle's visit is "going to show not only do we have support from school teachers, mailmen . . . but we have the support of the administration."
"He's a part of the team," Gilchrest said of Quayle.
Gilchrest's belief that Quayle can give him a boost is in contrast to Republican candidates who have kept their distance from the Bush administration out of fear of being tarred by the anti-tax criticism resulting from the recent battle over the federal budget.
Although Gilchrest met with Bush and filmed an endorsement, he hasn't used it. Gilchrest said today he hasn't done so only because Bush's message contained an error, referring to the district as the Eastern Shore and leaving out Southern Maryland and Harford County.
"This is a pretty happy day for my family," Gilchrest said.