Running for President has not been good for Michael S. Dukakis' free throw.
The 5-foot, 8-inch one-time starting guard on the 1951 Brookline High School basketball team dribbled at the foul line and whirled on his black wing tips, but sank only one basket in 10 shots at the St. Ambrose College gymnasium here Friday afternoon.
Still, his loss in a mock competition with the Queen Bees, the school's winning women's basketball team, was one of the few times the Massachusetts governor did not come on strong in a five-state campaign swing.
Dukakis has drawn overflow crowds and generally favorable reviews in visits since Wednesday to El Paso, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Sioux Falls, S.D., and across Iowa, which holds its caucuses a week from Monday.
Odd Presents Received
There were unusual gifts for a man known to wear wing tips to the beach: brown Tony Lama lizard skin cowboy boots and a sombrero in Texas, Girl Scout cookies and a sweat shirt in Davenport.
There were unusual questions. "Would you address the question of ecological planetary survival?" one voter asked. "Sure!" Dukakis responded without missing a beat.
And there were unusual answers. "Stability through international agreement is a desirable thing," Dukakis said at one point. "Housing happens to be one of my passions in life," he told another group.
But with Congress considering a Reagan Administration request to renew aid to anti-Sandinista forces in Nicaragua, Dukakis used the trip to criticize not just U.S. aid to the Contras, but also a century and a half of U.S. policy in Central America.
"Our affection for democracy in Nicaragua is a relatively recent phenomenon," Dukakis told about 75 people gathered in a union hall in Muscatine, in eastern Iowa, early Friday. "For 150 years, we didn't care two hoots about democracy in Nicaragua."
'Tyranny, Not Freedom'
He said repeated U.S. intervention had led "almost without exception . . . to tyranny, not freedom."
Dukakis, who has been criticized for his use of technocratic jargon, denounced "the maimings, the killings, and the blindings . . . " of children as a result of Contra military action.
Dukakis was even more graphic in a prepared speech to audiences in Des Moines and Minneapolis on Thursday. Quoting Argentine political prisoner Jacobo Timerman, he said: "The entire affective world . . . collapses with a kick in the father's genitals, a smack on the mother's face, an obscene insult to the sister or the sexual violation of a daughter."
Under President Reagan, Dukakis said, the United States has "run guns, mined harbors, consorted with torturers and thugs, counseled political assassination, lied to Congress, sold arms to the ayatollah, squandered hundreds of millions of dollars and repeatedly broken the laws of our land in an effort to overthrow the Sandinista government."
Two Goals of Speech
Aides said the speech was designed both to tap into the strong anti-Contra sentiment in Iowa and Minnesota, which holds its caucuses on Feb. 23, and to reassure voters concerned about Dukakis' inexperience in foreign affairs.
In a press conference in Sioux City, Dukakis said the Contra issue was "almost like Vietnam again. People are frustrated; they're angry. They don't want the government to do this."
Although Dukakis has raised more than $10 million, far more than any other Democrat, 85% of his 111 paid campaign staff members in the state have agreed to take voluntary pay cuts to provide more money for TV and radio advertising in the final 10 days.
Lorrain Voles, Dukakis' state press secretary, said the campaign otherwise feared exceeding the $745,000 state spending cap imposed by the Federal Election Commission.
"We realized we were going over budget," she said.