Bush accuses Buchanan of telling 'outright lies'

February 16, 1992|By Paul West | Paul West,Staff Writer

GOFFSTOWN, N.H. -- Campaigning for last-minute votes in New Hampshire, President Bush accused Republican challenger Patrick J. Buchanan yesterday of spreading "flat, outright lies" about his economic proposals.

On a weekend blitz of the first primary state, Mr. Bush deplored the "negative advertisements" and "attack-dog tactics coming from the left . . . and the right."

The president promised: "I will continue with a positive campaign."

Without mentioning his opponent by name, the president denounced what he termed "lies" being spread to New Hampshire voters about his proposed $500-per-child tax break for middle-class families.

The Buchanan campaign is running television advertisements that accuse Mr. Bush of reneging on the tax-cut plan.

The ads follow an earlier Buchanan barrage against Mr. Bush for breaking his 1988 campaign pledge not to raise taxes.

"Today, he's abandoned your tax cut. Even his advisers admit it was just a speech for New Hampshire," say the Buchanan ads. "New Hampshire, don't be fooled again."

Mr. Bush, in remarks to a small crowd of supporters at the Nashua airport, insisted that the tax break still was part of his proposal.

He turned to his wife, Barbara, who handed him a copy of the administration's economic legislation.

"It's there. It's in this bill," the president declared, brandishing the thick document for the cameras.

Earlier this week, the White House sent Congress a "streamlined" package of economic proposals.

The package does not include the family exemption, which would drain billions of dollars from the federal treasury.

The administration has said it does not intend to seek action on that and other portions of Mr. Bush's plan until a later date.

When he unveiled the proposal in his State of the Union speech last month, the president said Congress should "right away ease the burden of rearing a child" by raising the personal exemption for children.

As he has in the past, Mr. Bush never uttered Mr. Buchanan's name. But a prominent supporter felt no such hesitation.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, star of the "Terminator" movies, introduced by Mr. Bush to a squealing crowd in Goffstown, repeated his trademark line in asking voters to "send a message to Pat Buchanan: Hasta la vista [so long], baby."

Mr. Buchanan, who has campaigned in the state for most of the past 10 weeks, told supporters in Manchester that Mr. Bush was "in for a surprise" in Tuesday's election.

"The Buchanan brigades are going to run hard into the hollow army of King George and cut through it like butter," he predicted.

With polls showing Mr. Buchanan getting about one-third of the likely Republican vote, the new attack ads may be his last chance to undermine support for Mr. Bush, which even Bush campaign aides acknowledge is weak in this economically battered state.

A Boston Globe/WBZ survey, released yesterday, showed Mr. Bush with a 26 percentage point lead over Mr. Buchanan, up 9 percentage points in just two days.

A CNN/USA Today survey showed Mr. Bush leading by 24 points, down 2 points from the previous day.

Four years ago, a Bush attack ad on the final weekend of the New Hampshire campaign was credited with giving the then-vice president a pivotal primary victory over Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas.

The ad claimed that Mr. Dole would raise taxes, political anathema in a state that prides itself on maintaining one of the lowest tax burdens in the nation.

Yesterday, Mr. Bush was careful not to repeat his own no-tax pledge of 1988.

During a question-and-answer session with voters in Goffstown, he said he would "like to firmly avoid" and was "determined to avoid" raising taxes, but he stopped well short of making an all-out promise of the sort he later broke in a 1990 budget deal with Congress.

Earlier, Mr. Bush shook hands with shoppers at a southern New Hampshire mall and addressed a rally at a school in rural New Boston.

He was scheduled to speak at a pancake breakfast this morning at a high school gym and hold another question-and-answer session with voters in Hollis before returning to Washington.

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