ALBANY, Ga. — Vice President Dan Quayle blasted Democratic nominee Bill Clinton's economic package as a prescription for job losses as he toured the Southern battleground state of Georgia by bus Tuesday.
Quayle said that Clinton's program of tax increases, health care reform and defense cuts would cost Georgia 75,000 jobs. Citing figures developed by the Administration and Republicans in Congress, Quayle said that Clinton's plan would wipe out more than 2.5 million jobs nationwide.
Clinton contends that his economic program will create 8 million jobs over the next four years.
Quayle repeated his attack as he motored from Columbus to Warner Robins with stops in Cusseta, Richland, Dawson and Albany, speaking briefly to small crowds and high school bands.
Clinton also campaigned in Georgia on Tuesday, addressing voters at a senior citizens center in Macon, where he castigated the Administration on health care.
Quayle struck his theme of the day at his first stop, Columbus, accusing Clinton of concealing the effect of his economic proposals.
"He'll be traveling the state of Georgia today, but there will be many things he won't tell you," the vice president told a crowd assembled outside the headquarters of the American Family Life Assurance Co. "He won't tell you the cornerstone of his national economic strategy is to raise taxes. . . . He won't tell you he is going to raise taxes on every single worker in America."
Quayle then detailed what he said the "experts" anticipate in job losses from the Clinton plans: 700,000 jobs from a "play or pay" health care plan (which would require employers to give their workers health insurance or pay into a federal fund); 175,000 jobs from a training requirement to be levied on employers (which would require firms with more than 50 employees to devote 1.5% of their payroll to training their workers or pay an equivalent amount into a national job training fund); 1 million to 2 million jobs from additional taxes to be paid by small businesses. (Clinton has not proposed tax hikes on small businesses.)
Quayle aides attributed the figures to studies from the Institute for Policy Innovation, the Congressional Joint Economic Committee, the University of New Mexico and the National Federation of Independent Businesses.
For the time being, Georgia has become among the most hotly contested states of the South. Clinton has made two appearances in the state in the last three weeks, and aides have discussed running one of the campaign's signature bus trips through it later in the fall.
The reason for the attention is simple: So long as Clinton holds a strong lead in California and elsewhere on the West Coast, Bush absolutely must maintain a solid lock on the South to have any chance of winning in November. Excluding Clinton's home state of Arkansas and his running mate's of Tennessee, the Democrat's best shots at breaking that lock appear to be Georgia and Louisiana.
Even if Bush eventually wins the states, the Democrats can score a coup simply by forcing him to spend time working on his Southern base--time the Republicans would prefer to spend in the swing states of the Midwest.
South Carolina Gov. Carroll A. Campbell Jr., who is directing the Bush campaign's Southern strategy, put a slightly different spin on the region's importance. Quayle's visit to Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi this week is an attempt to make Clinton fight for every inch of Southern turf, he said.
Times staff writer David Lauter in Washington contributed to this story.