Bush celebrates, Clinton attacks President buoyed by good news on economy, polls

October 29, 1992|By Karen Hosler | Karen Hosler,Staff Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- President Bush started talking yesterday like a man on the verge of vindication as he celebrated good news on the economic front and a sharp tightening in some polls.

Leaping on the first glimmers of light in the long, dark tunnel he has been stuck in throughout his re-election campaign, Mr. Bush sounded almost cocky.

"You know what's happening? These guys feel it slipping away from them," Mr. Bush told a boisterous rally of nearly 10,000 in tiny Strongsville, Ohio, where his supporters were shouting down hecklers from the camp of rival Bill Clinton. "They know we're on the move; they know we're going forward. I feel sorry for them."

Later, at a downtown rally in Columbus, where the president was showered with confetti and balloons as chants of "Four more years" rang through the canyon of office buildings, the president declared, "I'm not done yet."

"We are not a nation in decline," he said. "We are going to lead the entire world into economy recovery, and that means jobs for everyone who wants to work. I ask for your support."

In the manic final days of the president's uphill quest to hold onto the White House, his mood has swung wildly. But yesterday it was definitely up.

By the end of the day he was giddily referring to the Democratic ticket as "Governor Clinton and Ozone" -- short for Ozone Man -- and promising to keep Millie on as First Dog -- he says she knows more about foreign policy than Mr. Clinton does. He also declared "amnesty" from media bashing for the White House press corps.

In yesterday's CNN/USA Today poll, which measured likely voters instead of including all those who say they are registered, Mr. Clinton's lead fell to 2 percentage points. The spread was 40 percent for the Democrat, 38 percent for Mr. Bush and 16 percent for independent candidate Ross Perot. A similar survey taken the day before had put the spread at 42 percent for Mr. Clinton, 36 per cent for Mr. Bush and 17 percent for Mr. Perot.

Another poll, by ABC, put the Clinton lead at 7 points, up from 6 points the previous day.

A third poll released yesterday found Mr. Clinton's lead shrinking but still bigger than in the other polls. The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll of likely voters gave Mr. Clinton 43 percent to 36 percent for Mr. Bush and 15 percent for Mr. Perot. A week earlier, the Clinton lead had been 19 percentage points.

Bush campaign spokeswoman Torie Clarke said all of the surveys reveal a 'trend" of movement toward Mr. Bush that is also evident in the campaign's own polling.

It wasn't clear how much real movement those figures represented, but the Bush campaign did its best to piggyback the "trend" onto the news Tuesday that the economy grew twice as fast as expected in the third quarter. It was the sixth consecutive quarter of growth.

"That's casting fear into the hearts of these talking heads on television, fear into the hearts of the Clinton-Gore team," Mr. Bush said in Toledo yesterday morning. "It puts the lie to the fact that we are in a deep recession."

"We are not in a recession," he said as he began a daylong swing through this critical swing state that has appeared to be all but lost to Mr. Clinton but is now rated by some observers as a tossup. "We are growing."

Mr. Bush, whose re-election seemed assured last year until voters started to believe that he didn't know or care how much pain was being caused by last year's economic downturn, hastened to say he recognizes that Americans still need relief.

"We need to help every single American who is hurting, everyone RTC who is afraid they might lose a job," he said in Strongsville. He said the answer is not raising taxes on the wealthy, as Mr. Clinton has proposed, or increasing fuel-efficiency standards for cars, which Mr. Bush said would cost Ohio 20,000 jobs.

Instead, he said, the solution is "opening new markets" and sending "Ohio products all around the world."

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