Newspapers endorsing Republican George Bush for president Sunday praised his government experience and grasp of national issues but papers backing Democrat Michael Dukakis said he could bring positive change to the White House.
Editorials backing the vice president, however,derided his selection of a running mate, Sen. Dan Quayle of Indiana. The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer -- which has broken a number of stories about Quayle, said, 'We've had abysmal vice presidential candidates before -- need we remind anybody of Spiro Agnew?'
The (New York) Daily News criticized both candidates and endorsed Bush 'in a difficult call' because the Reagan administration provided 'historically high employment' and 'global peace is as close as at any time in living memory' under GOP leadership.
'It can be well argued that there are more fitting candidates in the land than Bush or Michael Dukakis. None will be on the ballot,' the News said, then picked Bush, concluding, 'The choice is not ideal, but it is clear.'
The Detroit Free Press said it favored Dukakis because he 'understands the agenda better, has shown better executive ability, can provide better leadership.'
The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee, endorsing Dukakis, said, 'At a time of unprecedented political and economic challenges to America from outside, and of unprecedented needs for revitalization within, the country needs something more than a man who thinks Dan Quayle would be a dandy president, who wraps himself in the flag and who believes the future will take care of itself. More than George Bush. In this election, the obvious choice is Dukakis.'
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in endorsing Dukakis, said, 'The United States is ending eight years of its most conservative national government in generations. There will be change with either presidential nominee. ... Clearly, however, (Dukakis) would strike the newer course of the two. His election would serve the nation better.'
The Greensburg Tribune-Review, in western Pennsylvania's Westmoreland County, endorsed Bush for being 'part of a team that help bring about the longest socio-economic recovery in the history of our nation. We must continue this drive toward peace and prosperity with experienced leadership and a sound ideology.'
'Bush truly represents the conservative nature of today's mainstream constituency,' The Tribune-Review said. 'Americans want less federal spending, lower taxes and less governmental intrusion in their lives.'
The Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch said Bush offers continuity and moral convictions, making him preferable to Dukakis.
'With Vice President Bush as a valued adviser and partner, President Reagan ... has rescued the nation from Democrat Jimmy Carter's mire of misery and led it to new heights. Mr. Dukakis' record as governor of Massachusetts is really all the justification voters need to reject him for the presidency.'
The Milwaukee Journal, Wisconsin's largest newspaper, called Dukakis 'more in tune with national aspirations' than Bush and said the governor has 'the right vision' for America.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said, 'In matters of vision, values and judgment, Michael Dukakis stands well above George Bush. What he may lack in emotional appeal, he more than makes up for in common sense, compassion and commitment.'
The Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times, while both endorsing Bush, had markedly different levels of enthusiasm for him.
Bush was the 'emphatic choice' of the Sun-Times, which said he is 'probably the most experienced candidate ever to run for president.'
The Sun-Times called Dukakis's foreign policy 'sadly deficient' and criticized his promises of vast new programs that won't cost public monies, adding, 'Moreover, the Democrats virtually invented deficit spending and defended it for most of the last 50years.'
The Tribune, however, backed Bush reluctantly, saying he has run an 'abysmal' campaign and picked a 'lousy running mate.'
'We pick George Bush ... for the simple reasons that we agree more with what he says and fear less his leadership in the White House,' the Tribune said. '(Quayle) is a lousy running mate because his qualifications for governing the country are at best suspect, while the Republican Party is overflowing with potential vice presidents with unimpeachable credentials.'
The Tribune also cast doubt on Dukakis's presidential ability because, 'if he's so vulnerable to being out-foxed by the Bush campaign tacticians, what about the Russians, the Congress or even the sly generals in his own Pentagon?'
The Plain Dealer said it endorsed Bush because 'in a time of peace and even prosperity built on credit, most voters don't want to take a chance.'
'We will continue to differ sharply on the issues of the environment, civil rights and the right to choose an abortion. But though we feel Reagan-Bush have been wrong on those and some other issues, the Democrats this year have not produced an attractive alternative to the main thrust of the Reagan-Bush program,' the newspaper said.