PROVO, UTAH — President Bush attacked the Democratic ticket Saturday as liberal while his campaign chairman conceded the Republicans never expected to be so far behind in the midsummer polls.
Mr. Bush took the unlikely tack of quoting George McGovern, the Democrats' 1972 presidential nominee, in a speech to a friendly crowd of about 15,000 at Brigham Young University.
Mr. McGovern has described the Democratic ticket as "a Trojan horse," Bush told voters in this state that gave him his biggest victory margin in 1988.
"He said, `they're much more liberal underneath and will prove it when they're elected," Bush said. "George McGovern is an incredibly insightful man."
The latest opinion polls showed the president trailing Democratic candidate Bill Clinton by a significant margin.
Bush campaign chairman Bob Teeter, asked whether he thought the president would be trailing so badly at this point, said "no," but quickly added, "there was certainly no question in our mind ever that Governor Clinton would get a big bump out of his convention."
Independent Ross Perot's decision to withdraw from the race also helped Clinton, said Mr. Teeter, who vowed Bush will make up the difference.
"We were 33 points behind in '76 and made virtually all of that up," Teeter said, referring to Republican Gerald Ford's narrow loss to Democrat Jimmy Carter. "We were 17 behind four years ago and made that up enough to win."
Bush, who spent the last week on vacation in Maine and Wyoming, repeated the overtures to Perot supporters that he has used in recent days.
"Ross Perot's supporters believe in the same principles in which I believe about cutting the size of government," the president said.