President Bush last night questioned Bill Clinton's trip to Moscow as a student in 1969 and sharply attacked him for participating in anti-war demonstrations overseas in that period.

As part of an effort to cast doubt on the Democratic presidential nominee's character, the Bush campaign has been raising questions about his trip to Moscow during a break period when Clinton was a Rhodes scholar in England. Clinton has said he took a vacation tour of Eastern Europe and spent a week in Moscow as a tourist. He said he had no meetings and attended no gatherings there.

Bush, appearing last night on "Larry King Live," did not raise the issue himself. But after responding to an angry caller who suggested that Bush has not "come clean" about his role in the Iran-contra scandal, the president was asked by King, "What do you make of the Clinton Moscow trip thing?"

"I don't want to tell you what I really think," Bush said, but then added, "To go to Moscow, one year after Russia crushed Czechoslovakia, not remember who you saw there . . . " and he called on Clinton to "level with the American people."

Without further prompting, Bush added, "You can remember who you saw in an airport in Oslo but you can't remember who you saw in Moscow?"

The reference was to Clinton's recollection of meeting the Rev. Richard McSorley, a Georgetown University professor and peace activist, in a train station in Norway but having no specific recollection of seeing anyone in particular in Moscow.

Bush then attacked Clinton for engaging in anti-war demonstrations overseas, saying Clinton should say "how many demonstrations he led against his own country from a foreign soil. . . . I cannot for the life of me understand mobilizing demonstrations and demonstrating against your own country, no matter how strongly you feel, when you're in a foreign land."

The issue of Clinton's trip to Moscow was first raised extensively by Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-Calif.), Bush's California co-chairman, who suggested in late-night speeches on the House floor that the trip was suspicious. After the Washington Times on Monday ran banner headlines on the trip, the Bush campaign sent out fax-attacks, as they have become known, raising the issue as well.

Bush last night wrapped the trip, the demonstrations and Clinton's draft record into one large question about the Democrat's patriotism. Clinton, he said, should "level on the draft, level on whether he went to Moscow, on how many demonstrations he led . . . tell us the truth."

After the King show went off the air, Bush turned to the large and friendly handpicked audience of supporters in San Antonio and decried the "ugliness" of this political year. He said his administration "took a tremendous pounding" and "our record was tremendously distorted."

Nonetheless, he asserted, "I really believe I am going to win this election. "I am absolutely convinced that when people get into the voting booth they are going to ask themselves who they trust {to run the country} for four more years."

In response to the recent questioning, Clinton has referred to the trip as simply a student visit undertaken in a break period during his studies and scoffed at the notion that anything untoward was involved.

Clinton communications director George Stephanopoulos last night called Bush's reference to the Moscow trip a "sad and pathetic ploy by a desperate politician. If he worried as much about what most Americans are going through in 1992 as he does about what Bill Clinton did in 1969, we'd all be in much better shape. He sees the writing on the wall."

Earlier in the day, Clinton aides had said the Bush campaign had copied much of its stragegy from a recent British election.

The Bush campaign, without actually accusing Clinton of anything, has attempted to raise suspicions over why a student on his own would visit the Soviet capital, and Bush campaign aides have linked that visit with what they refer to as Clinton's anti-American activities at the time. Clinton has said he attended two or three anti-war demonstrations in London while he was a student at Oxford.

The president, in the hour-long call-in show, also raised the draft question three times, another "character" issue the Bush campaign is hoping will raise doubts about Clinton. When one caller complained that Bush had not been forthcoming about his role in the Iran-contra scandal while he was vice president during the Reagan administration, Bush accused the caller of being a tool of the Democrats. "If Bill Clinton would do on the draft what I've done on Iran-contra, we'd have all the facts out there," he said, adding that he had cooperated with all investigations and answered all questions on that issue.

At another point, Bush said, "I served this country, I served it in uniform. . . . "

Questions about how Clinton avoided military service during the Vietnam War have been raised repeatedly this fall by Bush aides. Bush has suggested that Clinton is not telling the truth about the circumstances of his draft history.

Clinton aides say the Bush campaign is borrowing almost all of its strategy from British Prime Minister John Major, a Conservative who won reelection earlier this year after his party trailed in the polls for most of the campaign. That made him a hero to Republicans in this country and a model for the Bush campaign, which acknowledges that it has consulted Major's political lieutenants.

The Bush campaign's imported tactics, the Clinton camp argues, include "smears" against Clinton similar to attacks on Major's leading opponent, former Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock.

In interviews in Little Rock, Ark., where the campaign has its headquarters, and in internal analyses of the similarities between the two campaigns, Clinton aides cited the Bush campaign's effort to put a dark spin on Clinton's trip to Moscow while a student.

Clinton aides said the "smear" was modeled after a similar attack on Kinnock. In February, two months before the British election, the London Sunday Times reported on visits by Kinnock and other Labor Party leaders to the Soviet Embassy in London and implied that the meetings had sinister motives. Other newspapers later said such embassy visits were standard fare for party leaders.

"In both cases, the underlying facts appear innocuous," one Clinton memorandum said. "In 1969, Clinton took a trip with other students to, among numerous other countries, the Soviet Union. In the early 1980s, Kinnock, a Labour leader, paid visits to the Soviet Embassy.

"But," the memorandum went on, "as the Republicans are trying to link the trip to Clinton's anti-war activities (and, without saying it, the draft story), the Tories wanted to tie the embassy visit back into the old questions about Kinnock's earlier incarnation as a left-wing socialist."

The campaign was quick to note the differences between Kinnock and Clinton, notably, in the words of a memorandum, that Clinton's visit to the Soviet Union was "a sightseeing trip" taken when he was a "young student," while Kinnock visited the Soviet embassy as a party leader.

They also said Clinton's policies, both in his past and as a candidate, were more moderate than Kinnock's.

"They're obviously trying to take a cookie-cutter, put it on the Tory campaign and bring it to America," Stephanopoulos said of the Bush aides. "Even as George Bush is castigating and ridiculing Bill Clinton for attending Oxford as a Rhodes scholar, he's doing the British campaign hook, line and sinker."

Torie Clarke, the Bush campaign press secretary, confirmed that Bush campaign officials had met with architects of the British Conservative victory and made no apology for drawing on Major's example.

"Let's talk about the similarities," she said. "For starters, like Major, we'll win, despite all the predictions. Secondly, we're willing to work hard to make sure our voters know Bill Clinton will raise taxes on the middle class. And third, when you have a liberal-leaning cat who is trying to refashion himself -- as Clinton is doing and as Kinnock did -- there are only so many ways to do it."

The Clinton campaign has not seen it that way. "This is not simply a party of failed ideas, it is also a campaign of failed ideas," its memorandum declared of the Bush camp. "They have run out of approaches and are looking across the Atlantic in a desperate effort to find out what to try next."

Staff writers Stuart Auerbach in San Antonio and Dan Balz in Washington contributed to this report; Devroy reported from Washington, Dionne from Little Rock.