HOUSTON — Vice President George Bush, saying America needs strong and stable leadership instead of "radical new directions," today declared his candidacy for the 1988 Republican presidential nomination.
"For seven years now, I have been with a President, and I have seen what crosses that big desk," Bush said. "And who should sit at that desk? I am that man."
In a wide-ranging announcement speech in his hometown of Houston, the vice president signaled that he would hew closely to President Reagan's major policy stands, both in domestic and foreign policy areas.
"I am not going to raise your taxes--period," said Bush, launching his second campaign for the presidency.
He also called for a taxpayers' "bill of rights," saying the rules of the Internal Revenue Service "have been cloaked in deliberate ambiguity."
Bush talked hopefully of reaching historic arms control treaties with the Soviets, but urged "a prudent skepticism" of the Kremlin's motives.
Bush also pledged to "help the freedom fighters of the world fight for freedom" in Afghanistan, Africa and Nicaragua.
"In a place called Nicaragua," he said, "we will help the contras win democracy. This doctrine of democracy must thunder on."
Hundreds of supporters, including Govs. John H. Sununu of New Hampshire and James R. Thompson of Illinois, gathered under huge chandeliers in a hotel ballroom as Bush, accompanied by his wife, Barbara, and many members of his family, gave his address.
Although he did not talk specifically of the series of legal problems that have confronted people who either worked for the Reagan Administration or had ties to it, Bush urged greater integrity in American life.
"Increasingly, we see those who have dropped their standards along the way" to successful careers, he said. "There's greed on Wall Street and graft in City Hall. There's influence-peddling in Washington, and it's all so shameful."
Bush served two terms in the House and held key appointive positions during the Nixon and Ford administrations.
It was in his hometown of Houston that Bush on May 26, 1980, surrendered the GOP presidential nomination to Ronald Reagan after a $16-million, two-year campaign against his "voodoo economics."
Bush, who has been traveling extensively around the country in recent months and has raised more than $10 million for his campaign, told supporters in New Hampshire over the weekend that "you're going to see a tiger unleashed." This remark appeared aimed at countering the so-called "wimp factor" that has dogged the vice president in recent years.