Offer them a spotlight and Democratic presidential candidates are sure to gather -- and bait each other. At a New Hampshire town meeting last week Bruce Babbitt took the opportunity to attack Michael Dukakis on his strongest primary turf. "Mike Dukakis has never . . . talked about a single program he didn't like or would reduce," Babbitt told 600 people gathered in Henniker, N.H., Thursday night for the taping of a television program to be shown statewide.
Dukakis responded sharply: "Bruce, you know better than that." He said that as governor of Massachusetts he has balanced budgets. "I know how to cut spending, Bruce. I've done it."
Sen. Albert Gore Jr. (D-Tenn.) stayed out of the battle between the current and former governors, focusing instead on his Washington experience.
While there was no obvious winner among the three Democrats in Henniker, there was a clear victor at the Republican version of the town meeting held Wednesday night in Manchester. The appeal of frequent joint appearances so far has eluded the Republicans -- only one candidate, du Pont, showed up for the program, which will air on Manchester's ABC affiliate today.
"You give Pete du Pont a free half-hour of air time all across New Hampshire, and wondrous things can happen," he said afterward.