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Editorial Boards Uninspired By Campaign, Candidates With AM-Election Rdp Bjt

November 7, 1988

Undated (AP) _ Editorial boards of the nation’s newspapers generally faulted the presidential campaigns of George Bush and Michael Dukakis as negative and uninspiring, and many found the candidates equally disappointing.

Some papers declined to make a presidential endorsement. Others voiced strong reservations even while making their choice.

The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa., called Bush ″a less-than inspired choice″ but endorsed him anyway on grounds of his government experience, a view reflected in many editorials.

In Dukakis’ hometown, The Boston Globe said it was endorsing the Massachusetts Democrat ″despite our uneasiness″ with his leadership style and the ″lack of focus in his campaign.″ But the Boston Herald, referring to its earlier backing of Dukakis, wrote: ″To those both within and outside the state we urge, don’t make our mistake.″

Some of the sentiment was summed up by the Centre Daily Times of State College, Pa., which endorsed Dukakis but said, ″Neither candidate has greatly inspired the electorate with his character, ideas or vision.″

The Washington Post endorsed no one and called this year’s race ″a terrible campaign, a national disappointment.″

The Post said it could not ″in good faith argue for the vindication of the cheap shots that have animated George Bush’s campaign ... or close our eyes to alarming deficiencies of the Democratic candidate as a prospective president.″

The St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch in Minnesota endorsed both candidates after its eight-member editorial board divided down the middle, and said: ″When you add up the pluses and the minuses, the net results don’t overwhelmingly favor one or the other.″

The New York Times said both candidates were better men than had been communicated in a ″sour, superficial, misleading campaign″ and that ″America is likely to be well served if either man is elected.″

The Times gave its nod to Dukakis, based on its expectation that he would be the most effective at ″getting America out of hock″ from its huge deficits.

Many newspapers cited Bush’s experience in Washington as a plus, while others were critical of his selection of Sen. Dan Quayle of Indiana as a running mate and questioned the GOP presidential nominee’s ability to tame the deficit.

The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., endorsed Bush, saying: ″An examination of Mr. Bush’s long record in federal service reads like the curriculum of a preparatory course for the presidency. There are few areas of policy-making in which he is not experienced.″

But the Philadelphia Daily News said Bush has become a candidate ″who takes the lowest road possible; who pretends, despite all the evidence that J. Danforth Quayle is not a callow moron.″

Its sister newspaper, The Philadelphia Inquirer, said Bush ″left no notable legacy″ in his appointive positions and had ″negligible″ impact on the Reagan administration.

Dukakis was credited for his leadership record as Massachusetts governor, but critics questioned his personal compassion and his credentials on foreign policy and national defense.

The Miami Herald said Bush ″emerges as a seasoned leader with growth potential while Mr. Dukakis is ever the earnest technocrat. The nation doesn’t need an ill-defined iceman; it needs a president.″

But the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said of Dukakis, ″What he may lack in emotional appeal, he more than makes up for in common sense, compassion and commitment.″

Connecticut’s largest daily, The Hartford Courant, said both candidates’ campaigns ″have been uninspiring, and often downright disgusting″ but it endorsed Republican Bush and welcomed his call for a ″kinder and gentler nation.″

″We do need a kinder, gentler nation,″ said the Flint (Mich.) Journal. ″That’s why we’re endorsing Michael S. Dukakis.″

The Star Tribune of Minneapolis also gave the nod to Dukakis but said, ″As this unenlightening presidential campaign nears an end, it shows ever more vividly its two main shortcomings: George Bush and Michael Dukakis.″

Kentucky’s two largest newspapers - The Courier-Journal of Louisville and the Lexington Herald-Leader - endorsed Dukakis, with the former voicing concern that on the deficit, ″George Bush has given no indication that he will rise above the expediency of the moment.″

The Seattle Times broke with a long tradition of endorsing Republican presidential candidates to support Dukakis, saying Bush ″clings to the eight- year Reagan legacy and promises he would provide four more years of the same. This is not reassuring.″

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, meanwhile, backed Bush, saying ″Dukakis’ lack of emotion ... and his seeming inability to respond either quickly or forcefully to Bush attacks on his positions have raised legitimate questions about his capacity for timely response in time of crisis.″

New Mexico’s largest paper, the Albuquerque Journal, expressed its confidence in the vice president: ″George Bush doesn’t really need an endorsement; the people of New Mexico and other mainstream states already know the vice president is ready to grasp the reins.″

In California, the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Examiner both backed Bush, the latter speculating that ″his appointees to the Supreme Court would not be constitutional extremists.″

Among papers backing Bush are: The Pittsburgh Press; The Albuquerque Tribune; The Arizona Republic; the Phoenix Gazette; The Times of Shreveport, La.; The Times-Picayune of New Orleans; the Los Angeles Herald Examiner; The Knoxville (Tenn.) Journal; the Houston Chronicle; The Houston Post; The Dallas Morning News; the Dallas Times Herald; The Oregonian of Portland; the New York Daily News; the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald; the Chicago Tribune; the Chicago Sun-Times; The Plain Dealer of Cleveland; the Atlanta Journal; and The Detroit News.

Among the papers that endorsed Dukakis: the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; The Journal-Gazette in Fort Wayne, Ind.; The Shreveport (La.) Journal; The Tennessean in Nashville; The Chattanooga (Tenn.) Times; the Kansas City (Mo.) Star and Times; The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle-Beacon; Santa Fe New Mexican; The Lincoln (Neb.) Star; the Atlanta Constitution; and the Detroit Free Press.

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