Democratic presidential candidate Jesse L. Jackson, urged on by the applause of more than 700 students at George Mason University yesterday, said that while the challenge of days past was to end racial violence, today's challege is to end "economic violence."
During a one-hour address he called the "New South Challenge," Jackson said that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s fight was for civil rights, but that today's fight is "to win economic justice, to win a workers' bill of rights."
"The New South has the richest soil and the poorest people," he said, calling for an increase in the minimum wage, better health benefits, more money for day care and added safety provisions for workers.
He also called for an end to U.S. aid for the rebels fighting Nicaragua's Sandinista government, urged that less be spent on defense and called for more money for the South, "where one-half of all American poor children live."
Jackson, who was invited to the Fairfax County campus by several student organizations, was asked about the televised argument Monday night between Vice President Bush and "CBS Evening News" anchorman Dan Rather. Jackson called Bush "petulant," "petty," "hypertensive" and so "thin-skinned" that he may "be risky as president."
The audience applauded.
One question seemed to throw Jackson for a 10-yard loss.
"Who do you want to win the Super Bowl?" a student asked.
After a pause, Jackson said, "Next question."
As many in the audience laughed, Jackson added: "For a lot of reasons I wish the Redskins' Doug Williams success." On Sunday, Williams will become the first black quarterback to start a Super Bowl game.
On the vice president's tangle with Rather, Jackson also said Bush showed a similar inability to handle sharp questions at an Iowa high school last week, when Bush ripped up a flier given to him by a student. Jackson also cited what he termed "unkind remarks" by Bush in 1984 about Geraldine A. Ferraro. After a nationally televised debate with the Democratic vice presidential nominee, Bush told some longshoremen that he had tried "to kick a little ass."
Jackson said he will campaign in Virginia and focus on the South before "Super Tuesday" on March 8, when Virginia and 19 other southern states hold presidential primaries and caucuses.
Last night Jackson raised several thousand dollars with a fund-raising reception in Richmond. He later paid private visits to Gov. Gerald L. Baliles and Lt. Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, neither of whom has endorsed any fellow Democrat for the presidency.