SAN DIEGO — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Bradley said Wednesday that Republican rival George Deukmejian is "whining like a crybaby" over the Los Angeles mayor's campaign attacks.
On Tuesday, Deukmejian lashed out at Bradley, calling him the "mayor of mud" over Bradley campaign charges that have questioned the governor's integrity.
Speaking before a largely supportive group of about 1,000 students at California State University, San Diego, Bradley held a mock debate with an enlarged photo of Deukmejian and asked the photo about large campaign contributions the governor has received from toxic waste, insurance and oil companies.
"I think the people of California deserve some answers to these types of questions," Bradley said. "The governor has been whining like a crybaby, saying that Tom Bradley is tough on him, that he's engaging in some kind of mud-slinging by raising these kinds of questions. I think the questions are appropriate."
Bradley, who began the day greeting campaign relay runners on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, received enthusiastic applause from most of the students in San Diego. But he was heckled by a group representing the Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers, who oppose Proposition 65, the anti-toxics measure that Bradley supports.
In spite of his "crybaby" remarks about Deukmejian, Bradley campaign officials said Wednesday that in the remaining days before the election, Bradley will speak more about why voters should support him and less about what he thinks is wrong with Deukmejian.
Although campaign chairman and Bradley news media strategist Tom Quinn said Bradley will not retreat from attacks on Deukmejian altogether, "there will be a change in emphasis."
Bradley, Quinn said, is "tired" of talking about Deukmejian and would prefer to talk more about "what he offers as a candidate."
Quinn denied that the shift is a result of Bradley's continued lagging in the polls but admitted, "I'm not happy when I read a poll that shows us behind in double digits."
Bradley's tactical shift was first evident Tuesday evening, when he gave interviews to Sacramento television reporters.
During one interview, Bradley was asked about the back-and-forth attacks and the negative tone of the gubernatorial campaign. Typically, Bradley would have responded that he was simply holding Deukmejian's record in office up for scrutiny and then would have recited a litany of what he considers failures of the governor's Administration.
Instead, he tried to steer the conversation away from Deukmejian.
"I prefer tonight just to talk a little about Tom Bradley. . . . I've had enough bashing of Deukmejian, and if people haven't received that word yet, I don't know that they will," Bradley544432489have done, what I can do, the kind of talents I bring to this campaign and hopefully to the office of governor."
In contrast to the harsh attacks that have characterized much of the gubernatorial campaign, Bradley spoke in modulated tones about his belief in himself and in the political system, his determination and his hope for the future. When asked by a television reporter why he had not campaigned in this vein more, Bradley said he had tried early in the campaign "to get my message out . . . but if I told you this every day, it would never get on the air."
Quinn, who said he will now be traveling with Bradley until Election Day, said new television spots also will emphasize the upbeat and attempt to subtly counter anti-black sentiment among some voters. One ad, with actor Carroll O'Connor, will stress Bradley's up-from-the-bootstraps beginnings and end by saying that voters have the chance "to judge a man not on the color of his skin but on the quality of his character."
Yet Quinn said he had no plans to yank anti-Deukmejian television ads, such as the one that shows a young girl starting to drink what is implied to be contaminated tap water.
"It was clear there was no possible way to win unless people had doubts about Deukmejian," Quinn said. "You need to look at his record, look at his failings. . . .
"People reelect incumbents unless they have a reason not to. . . . But common sense tells you that as you're coming toward the end of the campaign, people want to be getting a look at the candidates again."