Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Bush-Perot Squabble Said to Damage Both

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Bush-Perot Squabble Said to Damage Both

Article excerpt

LIKE opposing generals, President Bush and would-be president Ross Perot are lobbing political grenades at one another. As in war, both may get hurt.

In a broadcast scheduled to air tonight on ABC-TV, Mr. Bush reacts strongly to allegations that Mr. Perot had investigated him, as well as two of his sons, for impropriety.

"I don't think that's particularly American," the president says in a taped interview with Barbara Walters on ABC's 20/20. "If he was having my children investigated, that is beyond the pale," he says. "Leave my kids alone.... I am sick about it if it's true, and I think the American people will reject that kind of tactic."

Mr. Perot, in a press conference, fired back: "I do not spend my time investigating other people."

Perot called the charges that he had looked into the affairs of Bush and his family part of a Republican "dirty tricks" operation directed out of the Oval Office.

"There has been a 90-day effort to redefine my personality by a group called Opposition Research in the Republican Party," he told reporters. "They're generally known as the dirty-tricks crowd.... It has little or nothing to do with the truth."

Marlin Fitzwater, the president's press secretary, countered: "Mr. Perot's paranoia knows no bounds."

Thomas Mann, a political analyst at the Brookings Institution, says of this crossfire: "I think they are both injured in the process."

Dr. Mann says the president comes off looking somewhat "disingenuous." On the other hand, he says, Perot "is far from convincing" on the charge that there is a conspiracy against him.

There's already some evidence that the tussle may be harming them. A survey released this week by The New York Times finds that among 1,315 adults interviewed recently, Perot's unfavorable rating climbed from only 9 percent in April to 21 percent in June.

Things were no better for Bush. His unfavorable ratings rose from 41 percent in March to 44 percent in June.

Analysts suggest the principal gainer out of all this could be the third candidate in the race, Democrat Bill Clinton. While Bush and Perot chopped each other up, Governor Clinton was discussing his latest economic plan to revive America. …

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