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October 03, 1978 - Image 7

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1978-10-03

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Griffin's record, 'retiring act'
haunt him during close campaign

The Michigan Daily-Tuesday, October 3, 1978-Page 7
Tisch Headlee debate

(Continued from Page 1)
mind and decide to seek a third term in
the Senate, but during the interim he
proceeded to act like a retiring Senator
- he missed 216 out of 635 roll call votes
for that year.
Ironically, when Griffin announced
that he had reconsidered his
retirement, Democrat Carl Levin used
the occasion to announce his own inten-
tions to enter the Democratic primary
- and from that day on, Levin has been
hammering away at Griffin's absen-
teeism and what Levin calls the
Senator's own admission that he is
"tired" and "lackluster."
So while Levin is criss-crossing the
state telling voters Griffin had "the
second worst record of any Senator who
didn't die in office," Griffin is in what is
for him an unusual position - being
caught on the defensive in a campaign.
AND FOR Griffin, it's a no-win
situation. One weekend in late Septem-
ber, for example, Griffin flew into town
to speak to a Lion's Club convention in
Detroit, appear at an American Legion
Convention in Troy, and to shake hands
at a Garden City Ethnic Festival.
Tuesday morning, however, Levin
held a press conference in Saginaw to
blast Griffin for missing another Senate
vote on an unemployment aid bill -
that took place while the Senator was in
town campaigning.
One Griffin aide quoted the Senator
as complaining, "I guess Mr. Levin
doesn't expect me to campaign at all." -
But no one doubts Griffin's skills as a
campaigner, and he already is using a
multi-pronged attack on Levin to shift
the focus from his own Senate record to
Levin himself. Basically, Griffin's
strategy is to paint Levin as the kind of
big-spending liberal that voters are
turning away from this election year.
"I CERTAINLY don't think we need
anymore people of Mr. Levin's
philosophy," Griffin told a reporter af-
ter one speaking engagement. "Mr.
Levin's philosophy and ideology would
probably be very close to George
McGovern and that wing of the
Democratic party. Those people with
those ideas and that kind of thinking got
us into the kind of trouble we're in in the
first place."
Some of the political mileage in
calling Levin a big spending liberal is
blunted by the fact that, like Griffin,
Levin endorses the Headlee tax
limitation proposal on the Michigan
ballot this November.
Still, Griffin has occasionally put
challenger Levin on the defensive him-
self, with two approaches that seem
most effective:
" Reminding voters that Levin is
from Detroit, and would likely favor
Detroit when it comes to sending
federal dollars into the state, a sore

point with voters outstate;
" Emphasizing that he is a two-term
veteran in the Senate, and that electing.
Levin would give Michigan two Senate
newcomers with less clout when it
comes to committee assignments
(Michigan's other Senator, Donald
Riegle, was elected in 1976).
Meanwhile, Griffin, like most
Republican candidates this election
year, is campaigning on a tax
limitation platform, hoping to ride in on
the tide of the tax revolt. And for
Michiganders, Griffin has added his
own twist.
He calls it "taxflation", and he
describes it as the way Washington
pushes workers into a higher tax
bracket whenever they get a cost-of-
living raise. "It's no wonder the
average worker feels like a man trying
to climb a ladder in the mire," Griffin
says in a standard campaign speech.
GRIFFIN PROPOSES "tax in-
dexing," an innovation of conservative
economist Milton Friedman that would
adjust the tax brackets every year to
compensate for inflation. Coupled with
a demand for a constitutional amen-
dment requiring a balanced budget,
Griffin's message could well find sym-
pathetic ears in middle class and blue
collar audiences.
Griffin also advocates a strong
national defense, which is well-received
by more conservative audiences.
At an American Legion Convention
in Troy, for example, Griffin was in-
troduced as "a Senator Michigan can
be proud of."
And Griffin - the Senator who led the
floor fight against the Panama Canal
treaties - revelled in it.
"There is to be sure the giveaway of
the Panama Canal," the Senator told
the Legionaires, as he began ticking off
a list of administration shows of
weakness in the area of defense.
. The cancellation of the B-1 bom-
ber, delayed production of the neutron
bomb, the troop pullout from Korea, all
this coupled with the giveaway of the
Panama Canal. All this, while the
Soviet Union is engaged in the biggest
military buildup in history."
BUT THAT was Griffin's forte,
making a speech before the American
Legion. In crowds, however, like at a
Garden City Ethnic festival, even when
the Senator takes off his suit coat to
look relaxed, he appears on edge.
While in person-to-person contact
Levin comes across like an old friend,
Griffin seems stilted and hard-pressed
to make small talk. And one campaign
worker told a reporter that the fivg-
foot-seven Senator is sensitive about
being short, and is uncomfortable
around very tall- people. Griffin often
delivers speeches standing on his toes.

Griffin, a University law school
graduate and Traverse city attorney,
won his first election in 1956 - a seat in
the U.S. House of Representatives -
and he hasn't lost an election since.
When Sen. Patrick McNamara died
in May of 1966, Congressman Griffin
was appointed to fill the unexpired
term. That November, Griffin won the
seat in his own rightedefeating former
Michigan Gov. G. Mennen Williams.
In 1972, Griffin won reelection to the
Senate by defeating Attorney General
Frank Kelley. Griffin campaigned
largely as an outspoken opponent of
cross-district busing.
Whether Griffin is able to capitalize
on voter discontent with taxes to win a
third six-year term will depend largely
on how well he is able to blunt the effect
of Levin's charges about his attendance
record and his retirement plans.
As Griffin aid Swede Johnson told a
reporter, "He wishes he hadn't said
that about retiring. He said it once and
changed his mind, but the opposition
just keeps hammering and hammering
away at it."

(Continued from Page 1)
Tisch reinforced his position of public
opposition to Headlee's proposal, and
said he would be pleased if both his and
the voucher proposals passed. The
voucher plan would eliminate the,
levying of property taxes to support
public schools, and provide parents
with vouchers to send their children to
any school they wished.
Tisch affirmed he would not want to"
"crawl into the sack" with Headlee
should both tax plans pass.
The clean-cutKFeadlee, his red tie set-
ting him apart from the other, more
traditionally garbed Economic Club
members, responded by first quipping
that his wife would not appreciate the
idea of the two men sharing the sack
either. He then said he is pushing for
the passage of both the Headlee and
Tisch plans.
"IF YOU WANT a tax cut. . . vote
for Bob Tisch's proposal," Headlee ad-
vised the crowd. "If you want to keep
that cut. . . pull the lever for Proposal
E Headlee) when you vote for Tisch's
proposal."
Headlee's interpretation of the Tisch
proposal is that it would merely shift
taxes in Michigan and not limit them.
Tisch argued that the only shift his
proposed amendment would bring is "a
shift into high gear."
The Tisch proposal would cut proper-
ty taxes in half - from 50 per cent of the
assessed value to 25 per cent - and the
Headlee plan would place a ceiling on
state spending by limiting state taxes to
their present percentage of personal in-
come.
THE TWO MEN were asked by the
mediator to respond to the commonly
subscribed to statement that Headlee
limits state, but not local taxes, and
Tisch curbs local property taxes,
without limiting the state.

Headlee explained the purpose of his
proposal is "to place all forms of
taxation under the voting control of the
people-.
Tisch answered by telling the club
members, "If you think your local
government can't get along with a little
less money, we're all out of our gour-
ds." He cited the example of an Upper
Peninsula district that discovered it
had excess revenue stored away. "I
think, probably, we'll get along real
well once we start finding the stored
excess, he said.
THE DEBATERS did agree on one
point, both delivering snappy, affir-
mative answers to the question of
whether the two-cents-per-gallon gas
tax hike is intended to hit the citizen for
a few extra bucks before the possible
passage of the tax limitation amen-
dments.
"It's not fair to say the government
knows best," Headlee said in his final
address. "That's why we have con-
stitutional amendments." He con-
cluded with a poem defending in-

dividualism. "What kind of a town
would my town be if everyone was just
like me," he recited.
Headlee later indicated he is fairly
confident his proposal will go through in
November. We have "never had above
18 or 19 per cent opposed" in the polls,
he pointed out. He also said he thinks
Tisch's chances look "pretty good."
Wrapping up his speech, Tisch said
"We seriously want to put a limitation
on taxes, but more seriously, we want
to relieve the burden of property, tax.
We have every right to believe we can
get this done," he added.
In support of the Tisch amendment, a
group of taxpayers from Wayne,
Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw, and
Monroe Counties have formed the
Southeast Michigan Tisch Coalition.
The Washtenaw Counter division is
holding an organizational meeting
tonight in the Michigan Union.

a

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Electronics

CAMPUS INTERVIEWS

October 5, 1978

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