WASHINGTON -- Vice President George Bush was only 'kidding' reporters when he denied branding Ronald Reagan's economic proposals 'voodoo economics' during the 1980 campaign, a Bush spokesman said Wednesday.
Peter Teeley, the vice president's press secretary, told United Press International that Bush simply meant that 'no one can remember him ever uttering the statement.' But Teeley acknowledged the 'voodoo' line was included in Bush campaign press release.
'We put out a press release and we stand by that,' Teeley quoted Bush as saying.
Appearing in Houston Tuesday, Bush was questioned about his support for President Reagan's policies in light of his campaign complaints. 'I didn't say it,' Bush said.
The vice president maintained none of the television networks has tapes of him uttering the 'voodoo' line and added, 'I challenge anyone to find it.'
But Wednesday night, NBC News broadcast film of Bush making the statement at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh on April 10, 1980.
In regard to Reagan's economic platform, Bush said at that time, 'So, what I'm saying is that it just isn't going to work. And, it's very interesting, who invented this type of what I call a voodoo economic policy is Art Laffer, a California economist ...'
Teeley said Wednesday that he had written the 'voodoo economics' charge for inclusion in Bush's remarks in Clearfield County during the Pennsylvania primary in April 1980. At the time, Bush was the only serious challenger to Reagan for the Republican presidential nomination.
Teeley said that Bush explained that he was 'only kidding the press corps along' with his Houston comment.
Bush said Tuesday he criticized Reagan's proposals during the campaign because the plan was to cut taxes sharply 'and doing nothing else ... What we have now is very different. I strongly support what the president is doing.'
The phrase generated numerous political cartoons and frequently has been used by Democrats to challenge the administration's 'suppy-side' economic stimulus program.
Bush has often been questioned about the remark, but Tuesday was the first time the vice president made an effort to disavow it.
Reporters who covered the 1980 campaign recalled that candidate Bush labelled Reagan's programs 'voodoo economics' during a March 1980 appearance in New Haven, Conn., as well as in Pennsylvania the next month.
Democrats on Capitol Hill began to have fun with Bush before Teeley clarified the vice president's position.
Rep. Tony Cohelo, D-Calif., chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, produced a clipping from the April 10, 1980, Pittsburgh Press containing Bush's 'voodoo economics' quote.
'The severe case of selective memory that plagues so many in the Reagan administration seems to have spread to the vice president,' Cohelo said.