The generals-in this case, the national chairmen of the Democratic and Republican parties-bloodied themselves yesterday.
For nearly 30 minutes on "Issues and Answers" (ABC, WJLA) they traded accusations, thinly veiled insults and gibes.
Republican National Chairman Bill Brock fired his broadsides while at the same time denouncing what he called the "mud-slinging, sleazy" over-sall nature of the campaign.
Democratic National Chairman John White denied that the campaign was the least bit gleazy, but proceeded to pummel his opponent with charges that the GOP was "digging its own grave" and trying to "insult the American people."
When it was over, neither Brock nor White had given substantial answers to questions about the state of the nation's economy or the underlying causes for what is popularly termed "voter apathy." However, they did agree on one thing: eligible Americans should turn out to vote tomorrow.
Brock got in the first cut of verbal one-upmanship by accusing the predominantly Democratic Congress of being "completely irresponsible" in handling the economy.
"They're refused to face inflation. . . They've taken not one step to stop inflation. . . Congress is running for reelection on a record that is a bad, lousy record," he said of the Democrat-controlled legislative branch.
"You've got to change the faces in Congress if you're going to get anything better," preferably Republican.
"That's your job to say that," Brock shot back.
White laughed. "The fact is that the 95th Congress and the Democratic partnership (with the White House) has had a record that's probably unequaled in recent times," he said.
White conjured up ghosts of Watergate. "After all, the intergrity of office has been restored. Bill, from the time when your party had it," he said to Brock referring to President Carter's election.
An interviewer asked Brock about the level of "demagoguery" in the campaigns.
"I have been extremely distressed by the quality of this election," Brock said solemnly. "I so agree that there's a level of demagoguery and I think it's a frightening thing because all it does is turn people off." He accused the Democrats of generating most of it by their "disheartening" practice of saying one thing at home while doing "something else" in Washington.
While, in turn, accused the Republicans of engineering "the biggest flop of the '78 campaign" by trying to push a 33 1/3 percent tax-cut bill that was "an insult to the American people."
Brock accused the Democrats of using "sleazy" campaign tactics in Illinois by trying to imply that Republican Sen. Charles H. Percy is a racist.
"I don't agree that it's a mud-slinging , sleazy contest," White said of the Illinois race. "If the facts are unhappy for a particular candidate, that doesn't make it mud-slinging. There's nothing wrong with presenting a candidate's record to the American people. And, particularly in the case of Illinois, the record is there."
It was that kind of a show. Many observers say it's been that kind of a campaign.