Democratic vice-presidential nominee Geraldine A. Ferraro today continued to sweep up and down California in pursuit of the state's 47 Electoral College votes, professing to be undaunted by new evidence that the Democrats' upset bid has stalled.
On her fifth campaign swing through the state -- with a sixth scheduled next week -- Ferraro has continued to drub the Reagan administration on issues ranging from civil rights and education to arms control and the environment.
Not surprisingly, Ferraro's strategists played down a pair of discouraging new polls, including a Washington Post-ABC News poll that showed President Reagan's lead over Democratic presidential nominee Walter F. Mondale widening slightly to 12 percentage points, a reversal of earlier trends more heartening to the challengers.
"From our point of view, we've had as good a last two days as we've had in the campaign," issues director Steven Engelberg said. "You can feel if you're losing an election, you can feel if it's slipping away. And I tell you, all the signs are the other way. It's not what the polls say, it's the feel, the smell of what's happening."
In a brief interview today, Ferraro added, "A lot of women are letting their husbands say what they want to say, then they're going to go in the booths and they're going to vote. I don't know if it's going to close that gap. I don't know. Do I want it to? Do I expect it to? I'd love it."
It is unclear how the renewed controversies over Ferraro's congressional campaign financing and her husband's business dealings are playing -- if at all -- among the electorate. When questioned by the national press, she has brushed the questions aside on grounds that they are not germane to election issues.
The huge, jubilant crowds Ferraro has come to expect are undiminished. In Los Angeles Wednesday night, Ferraro and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) packed the Hollywood Palladium with more than 5,000 supporters at a rally before repairing to the parking lot to address an overflow crowd of 2,000 people.
Campaign manager John Sasso said that "whether the polls are up, down or sideways," Ferraro will not alter her strategy, either geographically or thematically, in the 11 days before the Nov. 6 election.
The Democrats are convinced that the motifs of arms control, civil rights and environmental protection are crucial in California.
In Stockton this afternoon, a crowd of 4,000 applauded enthusiastically when Ferraro said of Reagan, "In 1960, he was a pen pal for Richard Nixon. During that campaign, in a handwritten note to Nixon signed 'Ronnie Reagan,' he compared John Kennedy to Karl Marx and Adolf Hitler. Now that's the real Ronald Reagan, not charming, not funny, not Mr. Personality, but just plain wrong."