The two candidates in California's U.S. Senate campaign throttled back on the attacks and turned to a different challenge in these waning days of their long campaign--the challenge of bringing some of their positive qualities back into focus for voters.
In the parlance of the back room political strategy sessions, it is called "going positive." And Democratic Sen. Alan Cranston and Republican Rep. Ed Zschau were "going positive" in earnest as the weekend approached, trying to motivate and inspire voters for Tuesday's elections.
Stopped Mentioning Foe
Visiting national parks, veterans' rehabilitation centers and other reminders of his 18 years of work in the Senate, Cranston began the trend Thursday by stopping mention of his opponent in speeches.
"I will travel throughout California demonstrating what has been accomplished and what can still be accomplished if California has a senator with the courage and vision to take a stand for what he believes," Cranston said.
The senator said he hoped the negative attacks that have characterized the race are over.
Accentuate the Positive
"We should have some of this campaign concentrate on the positive, as I have tried to do from time to time by talking about the many issues a California senator has to deal with," Cranston said to reporters. "We've had enough attack and counterattack."
Zschau made two appearances Friday that were likewise upbeat, mentioning Cranston only once or twice all day. This followed weeks that were devoted to strong attacks on Cranston.
"What people want is leadership," Zschau said. "They want leaders, as we approach the next century, who will get out in front on the issues and not just repeat the same old approaches, but who will look for creative new ideas--ideas based on technology, ideas based on creativity, ideas based on innovation. That's the kind of leadership they want. That's the kind of leadership I plan to offer in the United States Senate."
Joined by Senate Leader
The GOP congressman was accompanied during the day by Republican Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas.
Both candidates have also been shifting their television commercials into a more positive vein as Tuesday's election nears. Cranston for some days has been alternating his negative attack commercials with an emotional 30-second spot recounting nature photographer Ansel Adams' fondness for Cranston. It is narrated by actor Lloyd Bridges and features a collage of Adams' black-and-white photographs of California.
Commercial by Heston
Zschau followed this week with a commercial narrated by actor and conservative political activist Charlton Heston, who describes the GOP challenger as "like a fresh breeze over our political landscape, bringing new energy, new opportunities, new ideas, most of all new hope." The 30-second advertisement shows Zschau, in the soft light of a morning sunrise, mixing with a crowd of supporters.
In addition to this commercial, Zschau is ready to run one more positive spot before the election. This one is keyed to President Reagan's pre-election campaigning for Zschau and urges Californians to "win one more for the Gipper."
Meanwhile, a new public opinion poll was released showing Cranston ahead in the race by five points, 51% to 46%. This sampling was conducted by ABC and the Washington Post. It followed release a day earlier of the California Poll by Mervin Field, which put the race as dead even among likely voters.
The Field poll was the first major independent survey to show Cranston dropping into a tie with his challenger. At a Los Angeles luncheon for Zschau on Friday, the effect of the survey was evident when pollster Field was introduced as an honorary guest. "He's not here with us today, but he's with us in spirit," said Assemblyman Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks).
Cranston said the ABC-Washington Post survey was consistent with his campaign's private polls. As for Field, the senator said: "The poll doesn't affect us because we don't believe it."