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Tuesday, August 18, 1992 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Convention Notebook

Times News Services

BUSH NARROWS CLINTON'S LEAD IN ABC NEWS POLL

President Bush trailed Democratic nominee Bill Clinton by 20 percentage points in an ABC News poll released yesterday that showed the president narrowing the gap with his Democratic rival. Clinton led Bush 57 percent to 37 percent in the Aug. 12-16 survey, compared with a 61-35 gap in an ABC survey taken over the previous five days. Clinton lost support among Republicans and former Ross Perot supporters. The poll of 615 likely voters was said to be accurate to within 4.5 percentage points.

BUSH IS STAYING AT HIS `HOME AWAY FROM HOME'

Bush is staying at the Houstonian Hotel, the place he calls home in Texas. He shells out $650 a night when he's checked into the Presidential Suite.

Bush enjoys one advantage of claiming Houston as his legal residence. Texas is one of nine states without an income tax, so the Bushes save up to $59,000 a year by declaring Houston their home rather than Maine, where they spend more time.

The typical American family pays about 10 percent in state and local income taxes, compared to the 0.3 percent paid by the Bushes. Clinton recently made Bush bristle by implying that the president was a Texan only so he didn't have to pay taxes in Maine.

DEMOCRATS COUNTERATTACK IN NEW TV AD SERIES

As Republicans rip into Clinton, the Democrats are answering with two new 15-second TV commercials that will be broadcast in Houston and Washington, D.C., during the convention.

One hits Bush for signing "the second-biggest tax increase in American history" - the 1990 increase that broke the president's "read my lips" pledge - and notes that under Clinton, Arkansas has the second-lowest tax burden per-capita in the country. The second ad criticizes lack of U.S. job growth during Bush's presidency while saying Arkansas had led the nation in job growth.

The ads close with the refrain: "Those are the facts; back to the show."

CLINTON RAPS BUSH, OFFICIALS' MORALITY COMMENTS

Clinton says Bush must answer for personal attacks coming from the Republican presidential campaign. "There have been so many times when he has said one thing and had his people do something else, I can't keep up with it," Clinton said.

He was responding to remarks made Sunday by U.S. Treasurer Catalina Villalpando and Bush campaign chairman Robert Mosbacher. Mosbacher told a GOP meeting at the party's national convention that allegations of infidelity "should be one of the yardsticks" by which voters assess Clinton's candidacy. Villalpando, citing Clinton's choice of former San Antonio, Texas, Mayor Henry Cisneros as a campaign aide, asked New Jersey delegates, "Can you imagine two skirt-chasers campaigning together?"

Bush has ordered his aides not to make marital fidelity an issue. Villalpando apologized yesterday and Mosbacher said he regretted "that, to some, my comments suggested that I was raising questions about Gov. Clinton's personal life." He said he had merely told reporters that morality was "among the issues the voters would use to make their decision in the election."

BUCHANAN IN 1996? BUSH COMES FIRST, PAT SAYS

Pat Buchanan refused to close the door on another run for the White House four years from now.

"I can't tell you whether I'm going to run in 1996. A lot depends on 1992," Buchanan said. "But I really hope everybody at our convention pulls together behind the president . . . and if we really do well these next four years, then 1996 is going to look good for everybody. I haven't made any plans . . . about 1996."

Buchanan said the Democratic nominees "really offer, even though it's drawn up in moderate stripes . . . a radical agenda in the social arena for America. But I'm enthusiastic about George Bush and Dan Quayle because I genuinely believe the president and vice president offer America more and what is better."

Copyright (c) 1992 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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