Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee John N. Dalton today canceled all joint appearances with his Democratic opponent. Henry E. Howell, because of what he said were Howell's personal, unfounded attacks on me and my family.
From the beginning of the Virginia general election campaign in June, Howell has sought to portray Dalton, 46, as a young millionaire whose wealth has interfered with his public service.In a recent debate, Howell linked him to the "dirty tricks" of aides to former President Nixon and, last Saturday, Howell compared Dalton's campaign literature to Nazi propaganda.
"If Henry Howell wants to continue his headline-seeking, issue-ducking, character-assassination brand of politics, that's his business," Dalton said in a statement at a press conference here. "But I do not intend to be part of it. I am talking about issues in this campaign, about my record and amount opponent's record. Until Henry Howell agrees to stick to these topics, I am announcing that I do not intend to continue making joint appearances with him."
Howell responded to Dalton through aides by saying, "It has been said, 'The truth hurts.'"
Dalton also used this adage today to explain why he thinks Howell has reacted sharply to the Republican's descriptions of his position on issues.
Among seven scheduled joint appearances canceled by Dalton was a scheduled first debate between Virginia gubernatorial candidates televised statewide. The 90-minute debate was schelduled for Oct. 17 in Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall at the College of William and Mary, site of the last debate in the 1976 presidential campaign.
"I know that Henry Howell will say that I am afraid to appear with him . . ." Dalton said. "But courage has nothing to do with my action. I simply do not intend to accept invitations to events with Henry Howell where people expect to hear a rational discussion of views and issues and be subjected to the type of personal attacks which Henry Howell is so comfortable in making."
Howell and Dalton have appeared together nine times during the general election campaign, and Howell has made increasingly sharp attacks on Dalton in recent meetings.
Many of these attacks have been directed at what Howell charged is "deceptive." Dalton campaign literature describing Howell's past postions on such issues as gun control, tax increases, collective bargaining rights for public employees and repeal of Virginia's law barring compulsory union membership.
At a press conference in Richmond Saturday, Howell denounced Dalton's brochures describing Howell's past positions. The Dalton campaign distributed what is said were quotes from a transcript of that press conference. In one, Howell described a Dalton brochure by saying, "This statement will equal what Goebbels did, in my opinion, who was a master propagandist, during the days of Hitler."
Dalton today defended the accuracy of hts campaign literature, saying, "I guess Henry Howell figures that if he shouts 'Hitler' and 'deceit' loud enough and often enough, the people of Virginia will believe that certain documented facts in his record aren't the truth."
This is Howell's third try for the governorship and his past races also have been characterized by bitter relationships with his opponent.
Former state Attorney General Andrew P. Miller, Howell's for in the June Democratic primary, said during that campaign that "attacks on the motives and integrity of others fro reasons of political expediency have been a foundation of Mr. Howell's career."
Howell's Republican opponent in the 1973 gubernatorial campaign, Gov. Mills E. Godwin, refused to make joint appearances with Howell. Miller did and was sometimes the object of Howell's colorful attacks. At a Richmond debate during the primary, Howell respoded in closing to a Miller attack on his record by imploing. "Andy, don't by an artful dodger. Don't be a deceitful Dan . . ."
Included in the Howell statements distributed by the Dalton campaign tody were quotes of the Democrat referring to Dalton as being "as mean as a Junkyard Dog.