GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- An upbeat George Bush said Wednesday 'things are moving in our direction' and declared a victory for him Election Day would be a mandate to reject 'the failed liberal policies of the past.'
Speaking to about 3,000 people standing outside in 42-degree weather at Grand Rapids' Monroe Mall Amphitheater, the Republican vice president appeared buoyed by the latest polls showing him with a double-digit lead nationwide over Democrat Michael Dukakis.
'I represent the mainstream news!' Bush told the cheering crowd, who did not seem to notice he flubbed his line, saying 'news' for 'views.'
Portraying Dukakis as a far-left liberal, Bush said, 'If I win this election, it will be a rejection of the failed liberal policies of the past.
'And a confirmation of your beliefs in these traditional American values. And if I win, it will be a mainstream mandate -- that's what this election is all about.'
For the first time in days, Bush mentioned by name his controversial vice presidential running mate, Sen. Dan Quayle of Indiana.
'He is doing an outstanding job,' Bush said of Quayle. 'Steel gets tempered by fire, and my young running mate has been through the fire. His head is high and his chin is up.'
Bush also took note of Dukakis's recent television interview blitz and joked that 'it seemed like he appeared on every television show except 'Wheel of Fortune.'
'You see, he was afraid that Vanna might turn over the 'L' word,' he said to laughter, referring to his term for the word 'liberal.'
Bush was introduced by former President Gerald Ford, who said he was 'shocked' that Dukakis recently compared himself to presidents Harry Truman, John Kennedy and Franklin Roosevelt.
Ford called the comparison an 'an insult' to the memories of the former leaders and charged that Dukakis was more a 'composite of George McGovern, Walter Mondale and Jimmy Carter.'
From Grand Rapids, Bush traveled to another rally in Lansing, Mich., before flying to Columbus, Ohio, for the night. The event was staged in the manner of President Reagan's appearances; at the end of his speech at Lansing Catholic High School, he stood in the gymnasium flanked by two young girls waving flags while singer Lee Greenwood led the crowd in 'God Bless the U.S.A.'
Bush's speech was interrupted by hecklers with air horns who shouted, 'No more lies!' and 'Two million homeless!' He responded by telling his supporters in the crowd, 'They're getting a little desperate with five days left.'
Earlier, Bush addressed a rally of nearly 5,000 wildly enthusiastic students and parents at Adlai Stevenson High School in Chicago's affluent, northern suburb of Prairie View.
'We told George Bush that if he wanted to see the real America, he had to come to Adlai Stevenson High School,' Illinois Gov. James Thompson told the cheering white audience.
Standing before a huge American flag, Bush told the crowd he was pleased with the direction of the campaign with only six days until Election Day Tuesday.
'I think things are moving in our direction,' the vice president said, apparently referring to Tuesday's CBS and ABC polls showing him with a 12 to 13 point lead over Dukakis.
But he added, 'I will not be outworked by the liberal governor of Massachusetts. We are going right down to the wire.
'I come before you at the end of a long, long journey. ... I ask for your vote.
'Look beyond the charges and the shouting,' Bush said, 'and choose the candidate who represents your values, your dreams, your hopes for the United States.'
At each stop, he hit his standard campaign themes, promising to maintain the economic recovery, get tough on criminals, strengthen the U.S. military, clean up the environment and improve education.
Press secretary Sheila Tate said the campaign was pleased by the recent polls and with the decision by The Washington Post not to endorse Dukakis.
'It hurts him (Dukakis),' Tate said of the Post's decision not to endorse either candidate. 'We never expected the Post to endorse us.'
It was Bush's eighth campaign trip to Illinois and his sixth to Michigan since August's Republican National Convention.
The two battleground states have a total of 44 electoral college votes of the 270 necessary to win.
A Chicago Tribune poll conducted Oct. 22-26 showed Bush leading 49-41 percent, while a WJBK-KRC poll taken Oct. 25-26 in Michigan showed Bush leading 47-41 percent.
Bush was scheduled to appear on NBC's 'Today' show Thursday morning from Columbus, Ohio, and it was announced the four television networks will each tape five-minute interviews with Bush on Monday, election eve.
Republican Party Chairman Frank Fahrenkopf, traveling with Bush, told reporters, 'If things continue, we're going to have an overwhelming victory.'
Asked if Bush was behind in any states, Fahrenkopf said, 'The last numbers I saw in Massachusetts had us behind.' He said there are 'some very, very close states,' naming New York and Minnesota.