CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Over the years no one has been more candid about his 1988 presidential campaign loss to George H.W. Bush than the candidate himself. Michael Dukakis has been upfront in saying “I blew it.” At one point he even had a 17-point lead.
It gives Dukakis a unique perspective on what he hopes to hear Thursday night in Charlotte from President Obama. And as a former Massachusetts governor, he has a unique platform from which to criticize Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s performance as governor. Dukakis has said Romney made an “absolute mess” of it.
“We had the fourth-worst job creation record when Mitt Romney was governor,” Dukakis said. “We were 47th out of 50. So how somebody with that kind of record can go out across the country and tell people that he’s going to be a great economic leader is beyond me.”
Dukakis said Democrats need to be better at drawing attention to Romney’s record in Massachusetts.
“[Democrats] certainly have not told the Romney story when it comes to economic leadership and job creation and I think it’s important that we do so,” he said. “That’s the end of the Romney candidacy. I mean, I don’t see how he can survive that.”
As for Obama and his campaign, Dukakis said he likes what he sees so far.
“I think he’s going to come out of here with a great head of steam, but as we all know, including Mike Dukakis, you can have a great convention and still lose the election,” he laughed.
Dukakis said the task for the president in his speech before the convention Thursday night is to lay out his plan for the next four years.
“[And] remind people that he inherited an absolute disaster,” Dukakis said. “I mean, we were going over the cliff when he was first elected [and] even with all of those problems, he helped create 4.5 million new private-sector jobs. Pretty impressive.”
Nevertheless, Dukakis said the election will be a tough fight, particularly in light of the 2010 Supreme Court ruling that allowed corporations to spend money on political campaigns.
-Democratic National Convention-
Select coverage from the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte:
- Patrick, Late Sen. Kennedy Play Big Role In Convention’s Opening Night
- WBUR Interview: Elizabeth Warren
- Warren’s Speech Plays Well At DNC
- Former Gov. Dukakis Hits Romney On Economic Record
- WBUR Interview: Sen. John Kerry
- Frank, Kerry Lash Into Romney
- Mass. Delegates Focused, Energized
- Commentaries: Payne & Domke
- Scenes From The Democratic Convention
- Updates From The Conventions
“These corporate dollars are going to be pouring in and it’s all attack ads,” Dukakis said.
The Mass. Senate Challenge
Assessing the race between Republican incumbent Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren, Dukakis said the race is tight and will remain that way until the election.
“I think what she now has to do is draw the contrast between herself and Brown,” Dukakis said. He and his wife have been campaigning on behalf of Warren.
“She’s just gotta make sure that people understand that there’s an enormous difference between Brown and her and that the kinds of things she stands for are the kinds of things that the vast majority of Massachusetts voters strongly support.”
But some people have said a major challenge for Warren is that Brown is very likable.
“This isn’t a personality contest — and she’s a terrific person as a person — this is about major decisions facing this country,” he said. “And notwithstanding this effort to come across as an independent, I mean the fact of the matter is [Brown's] part and parcel of his Republican gang down there and the other folks that created this mess in the first place.”
Dukakis says Warren will be able to win.
“I’m cautiously optimistic, but this is going to be a real battle right down to Election Day.”