As Bush spoke to a rally in Burlington, Wis., an airplane circled above trailing a banner that read: "Iran-Contra Haunts You!!"
The Iran-related material was contained in an indictment of former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, filed in Washington on Friday. Weinberger's notes show that then-Vice President Bush was at a Jan. 7, 1986, Oval Office meeting where a direct arms-for-hostages swap was debated, and that Bush was among those who approved. Weinberger has been charged with making false statements to Congress.
The Clinton campaign instantly picked up the disclosure and tried to turn it into an antidote for Bush's attacks on their candidate's character. Clinton's communications director, George Stephanopoulos, called it a ''smoking gun showing George Bush lied to the American people about his role in the arms-for-hostages affair."
At a rally in Oshkosh during a whistle-stop train tour of Wisconsin, Bush hit back. "Being attacked on character by Gov. Clinton is like being called ugly by a frog," said Bush. "He has latched on to these silly little accusations to arrest his free fall in the polls."
Bush said the United States could not risk electing a leader "completely without experience, completely untested, a leader about whom we know very, very little."
And continuing his effort to depict Clinton as a waffler, Bush said, "The pumpkin in Arkansas has two faces: Whichever side you're on, he's right there. You can't do that as president of the United States."
The President's voice was hoarsened by fatigue and a cold, but he was fired up. Some polls continue to show him drawing abreast of Clinton, while others
put him 10 points back.
"I don't know if he can win this . . . thing or not," said one Bush aide, who admitted he shouldn't even be hinting at defeat. "But how can you let the Old Man down? He's fighting like a tiger. We owe it to him to do it, too."
Polls show support for independent candidate Ross Perot dropping into the mid-teens, although he continues to outspend the others on television advertising. Perot had rallies in Tampa, Fla., and Kansas City, Mo., with two more rallies in California scheduled for today.
Speaking to a crowd of 10,000 in Tampa, Perot aimed his harshest criticism at the President. "Number One, he can't win," said Perot. "Number Two, with his record, he shouldn't win."
Perot preached a gospel of "shared sacrifice" to reduce the federal deficit through a mix of higher taxes and spending cuts.
He also called for greater efforts to find a cure for AIDS and to let the seriously ill experiment with unproven but promising AIDS therapies.
Clinton started the day in Atlanta, trying to keep the focus on his economic message. However, he couldn't pass up a chance to rebuke Bush for calling him and his running mate, Tennessee Sen. Al Gore, "crazy."
"Think about something scary on Halloween: If we're 'crazy,' think of the alternative," Clinton said.
Getting back to the economy, Clinton said that, as president, he ''desperately" wanted to make more millionaires than Bush, "but I have another one of those crazy ideas - I want people to make a million the old- fashioned way, by putting the rest of America to work."
"This election, in the end, in these last closing days, is the age-old American conflict between change and the status quo, between people having the courage to vote their hopes or falling back and voting their fears," Clinton said.
"Listen to the charges and the countercharges and listen to what Al Gore and Bill Clinton hope to do with you, not for you, but with you, to change America."
He told reporters he was feeling nervous and didn't expect to get much sleep before Election Day. "Nervousness is a form of energy I have to channel and just keep going."
Meanwhile, Clinton press secretary Dee Dee Myers labeled as "absolutely untrue" the Washington Times report on the disappearance of Clinton's University of Arkansas ROTC file shortly before the Democrat's first run for elected office 18 years ago.
Clinton signed up for ROTC to avoid going to Vietnam, but later dropped out and made himself available to be drafted. However, he drew a high number in the draft lottery and was never called.
The Times report, quoting a records clerk and an Army officer who worked in the program at the time, said Clinton representatives demanded and obtained the only known copy of his ROTC personnel file in 1974.
The Times also said that the ROTC unit commander destroyed a separate, ''dissident file," which also contained information on Clinton, who at the time was a law professor running for Congress.
The article said that among the papers in the personnel file was a form signed by Clinton, in which he agreed to serve in the Army in return for his ROTC deferment. Clinton has denied ever signing such a form.
The Clinton campaign said it, too, had investigated rumors that his file had been removed, and that the people involved in his 1974 congressional race denied having any knowledge of such an incident.
"It's a total lie, there's no truth to it," said Myers.
Mary Matalin, Bush's deputy campaign manager, wasn't buying that explanation.
"This is hypocrisy at its greatest height and deception at its greatest depth," she said. "Now we are beginning to see the full extent to which Bill Clinton was willing to (go) to maintain his precious political viability."
Democratic vice presidential candidate Al Gore campaigned from the mid- South to the Rocky Mountains yesterday, hammering away at the President's economic policies.
While Gore talked about issues from job creation to welfare reform, he said the main emphasis now was on persuading supporters to vote in Tuesday's election.
Completing a four-day tour of 10 states, Vice President Quayle yesterday told voters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, that Bush could carry the state he lost to Michael Dukakis in 1988. "Is Iowa this time going for George Bush? No doubt in my mind."
THE CANDIDATES TODAY
Campaign stops are planned in LaCrosse, Wis.; Auburn Hills, Mich.; Stratford, Conn., and Short Hills, N.J. He will appear on CNN's Newsmaker Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and on MTV at 6:30 p.m.
Campaign stops are planned in Portsmouth, Ohio; Hopkinsville, Ky., and Metairie, La.
Campaign stops are planned in Cincinnati; Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and East Rutherford and Cherry Hill, N.J.
Campaign stops are planned in Eau Claire, Wis.; Kalamazoo, Mich., and East Rutherford, N.J.
Campaign stops are planned in Long Beach and San Jose, Calif. He will appear in a 30-minute commercial on ABC at 7 p.m. and a 60-minute commercial on NBC at 7 p.m.
JAMES B. STOCKDALE