President Reagan and Vice President George Bush, appearing confident of re-election, stumped for GOP congressional candidates Friday while Walter Mondale warned that the administration plotted 'mean spirited' tax hikes for most Americans.
While Mondale waged a four-state marathon in the East and Midwest that included a huge rally before 50,000 cheering supporters on the Boston Common, running mate Geraldine Ferraro campaigned in Reagan's home state of California.
With 70 hours to go before some Americans elect a president, a new National Public Radio-Louis Harris poll showed Reagan's lead had slipped 3 points, but was still a strong 16 points over Mondale.
The president predicted his lead might slip some as he swung from personal campaigning to backing Republican House and Senate contenders.
There is little prospect the Republicans will gain control of the House, but a GOP pickup of about 20 seats could give Reagan working control of Congress as he had before the 1982 election when Boll Weevil Democrats helped pass his economic program.
Campaigning from the rim of the so-called 'Rust Belt' to the farm fields of his native Illinois, Reagan took after Mondale and his Democratic allies in Congress -- House Speaker Thomas O'Neill most prominent among them -- in an bid to turn an anticipated personal victory Tuesday into a sweeping triumph for the GOP.
With balloons, banners and his characteristic optimism, Reagan took his feel-good-about-America campaign through states Mondale must win to have a shot at one of the biggest political upsets in U.S. history.
From his first stop at a mid-morning rally in a chilly airport hangar in Saginaw, Mich., to a late-afternoon appearance on the steps of the state capitol in Springfield, Ill., where he invoked the words of Abraham Lincoln, Reagan reaffirmed his determination to extend the recovery to all segments of the economy.
There were a few hecklers in Reagan's audience, and they were shouted down by supporters. The dissent did not go unnoticed. Reagan spotted a sign for Rep. Paul Simon, D-Ill., Republican Sen. Charles Percy's opponent, as he stood on the platform in Springfield posing with Republican candidates. 'Look at that brave bastard out there with the Simon sign,' Reagan said, laughing, his remark picked up by a nearby microphone.
At the Boston Common rally, Mondale slammed the administration for drawing up 'mean-spirited' plans to stop federal deductions for state and local taxes and will tax unemployment and workers' compensation.
More than 50,000 people filled the Common -- a large inner-city park - for Mondale's appearance just one day after President Reagan spoke to a smaller crowd a few blocks away at City Hall Plaza.
Mondale was joined on the speaker's platform, which looked out on a huge crowd sprawling up Beacon Hill to the state Capitol by top state politicians, including Sen. Edward Kennedy, House Speaker Thomas O'Neill and Gov. Michael Dukakis.
Peter Yarrow and Mary Travers, of the 1960's folk group Peter, Paul and Mary, sang Woodie Guthrie's 'This Land Is Your Land.'
Mondale cited a news report that said the administration 'has decided to eliminate the deduction of state and local taxes which means that every homeowner in Massachusetts, every dime you pay in state taxes will no longer be deductable from federal income taxes.
'It's a tax on middle and moderate income Americans,' he said. 'They are proposing to tax -- of all the mean-spirited proposals - unemployment insurance, totally.'
Earlier in Lorain, Ohio, near Cleveland, Mondale told cheering residents of a high-unemployment 'Rust Belt' community to extract revenge on Reagan: 'They did it to you -- now you do it to them!'
Addressing about 2,000 flag-waving supporters in a high school gymnasium, Mondale blamed Reagan's trade policies and an influx of foreign imports for plant closings that have led to high unemployment.
'And on every one of those issues that affect your family, this president is out to lunch,' Mondale said.
In Cleveland, Reagan said 'a tiny handful of liberal Democrats decided they know more than the people and smothered' the comprehensive crime control act for three years. 'One of them even boasted that the bill came to his committee 'dead on arrival,'' he said.
'It's this kind of thumbing of noses at our citizens that makes me believe we will find out this year exactly what we found out in 1980 - in the United States of America, the people are in charge, not the Democratic leadership of the House of Representatives,' Reagan said.
Bush campaigned in Wilmington, Del., for Elise duPont, wife of Gov. Pierre duPont, who is running for the House. During his final campaign swing, he was scheduled to stump on behalf of 17 Republican House candidates from New York to Texas.
In Los Angeles, Ferraro called for an end to 'the tyranny of expectations' over sex roles and said the answer is not for women to become more like men.
In an address on women at Valley College in Van Nuys, she said that at the start of her campaign Mondale had insisted, 'Gerry, just be yourself.'
'He has never asked me to change my style,' Ferraro said. 'And, thank goodness, he didn't ask me to be like George Bush.'