PEKIN, Ill. -- Former President Gerald Ford, accusing Democrats of giving the nation 'economic pneumonia,' said Friday a vote for House Republican leader Robert Michel will be 'medicine' for an economic recovery.
Ford, making stops in the city that was the home of the late GOP Senate leader Everett M. Dirksen, said voters should reject Michel's Democratic opponent, Douglas Stephens, because he 'doesn't know his way around' Washington.
Michel, a 26-year House veteran, is in what many political observers view as the toughest race of his career. Stephens, 31, is a former attorney for United Auto Workers union' members at the Peoria-based Caterpillar Tractor Co.
Ford said he vowed to quit stumping for candidates after supporting Reagan's presidential bid in 1980. But he said he changed his mind when he heard 'cheap shots' by former Vice President Walter Mondale 'and other extreme liberals' who place the blame for the country's economic troubles on the GOP.
'Whenever you have a cold, any medication will help. But when you have pneumonia you need strong medicine. Jimmy Carter gave Ronald Reagan a nation suffering from economic pneumonia,' Ford said.
The former president predicted Republicans will lose several governorships and some House seats, but will keep control of the Senate in the Tuesday'selection.