TYLER, TEX., NOV. 5 -- After attacking the usual suspects -- the tax-and-spend, weak-on-crime liberal Democrats -- President Bush today saved the last of his 1990 midterm political criticism for Washington "pundits."
Launching a three-stop Texas tour for the GOP ticket, Bush took on "all these great inside-the-Beltway experts telling us everything that's wrong with the United States."
The president urged his audience to "go the polls and say what's right about it." He cited the Texas candidacies of Republicans Clayton Williams for governor and Phil Gramm for Senate as two things right about America.
Launching into an extemporaneous end to his stump speech here, Bush mocked "the cynics, these Washington pundits that we get on these tiring shows all the time. I don't know if you're like I am, maybe you've enjoyed these things, but I can only take so much self-flagellation."
To wild cheering, Bush shouted, "Don't tell me what's wrong about this country, show us what's right. Get out and do your civic duty."
The Tyler stop was one of three rallies Bush addressed before returning to Houston, his legal residence, where he will vote Tuesday. The president will have spent three days in Texas, after campaigning the past week in Massachusetts, Florida, Ohio, Minnesota, Iowa and New Mexico.
White House Press Secretary Marlin Fitzwater said that regardless of how Republicans do Tuesday, the president will continue to campaign for GOP candidates. That's "just the way he feels about the party and about campaigning. He'll always do it," Fitzwater said. Asked whether Bush will take some credit if Republicans do well, Fitzwater joked, "I expect we will claim victory no matter what happens."
In Texas, Bush got enthusiastic greetings all across the state where he was introduced as a "great Texas president" by Gramm.
Bush steered clear of mentioning Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ann Richards by name, even when he was campaigning in her home territory in Waco. But he joked there that he was late because he and Williams "set off the metal detectors with our silver feet." And he grinned widely when Gramm attacked her and said, "Ann Richards does not speak for Texas when she attacks our Texas President."
Richards was the keynote speaker at the 1988 Democratic National Convention, where she mockingly attacked Bush, saying he was born with a "silver foot" in his mouth.
Here and on his other stops, Bush accused the Democrats of engaging in "that tired, liberal, divide class warfare rhetoric about soaking the rich" when in fact, he said, their budget proposals would increase taxes for middle-income Americans.
"Hold onto your wallets, they're after you, every single one of you," Bush told his audiences.
In his final day, Bush also included what has been a standard segment on Iraq in which he pledged, "I will give the sanctions time to work. I hope and pray there will never be a shot fired in anger." But, he added, "there will be no compromise" with Saddam Hussein. "Unchecked and uncontrolled aggression could be world war tomorrow."
An ABC News poll conducted over the weekend found that Bush's job approval rating has rebounded in recent days as the president has focused on the crisis in the Middle East in speeches around the country. The survey of 1,015 adults found that 59 percent approved of the job Bush was doing as president, up from 51 percent in an ABC poll completed early last week.
After a day campaigning, Bush returned to Houston to sign the budget reconciliation package and 13 appropriation bills that had been the center of so much political turmoil the past two months.
Fitzwater said he did not believe an election-eve signing of such unpopular legislation would have any effect on the voting. "It is a deficit-cutting bill the country needs," he said. "Got to do the country's business."