Democrat Michael S. Dukakis named Sen. Lloyd Bentsen as his running mate today, celebrating his "first presidential act" in a rousing campaign send-off and harking back to the victorious 1960 ticket uniting their same two states.
Jesse Jackson, who only Monday night stated for the first time that he would accept the No. 2 spot, said he wasn't angry at being passed over, but he pointedly refused to endorse Dukakis' choice.
"The parallels between 1960 and 1988 are very close indeed," Dukakis declared as he introduced Bentsen, a three-term senator from Texas, in Boston's Faneuil Hall.
Dukakis noted that the Republicans nominated an incumbent vice president, Richard M. Nixon, in 1960, while the Democrats chose Sen. John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Kennedy in turn tapped Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas.
"Jack Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson beat that incumbent vice president in 1960, and Mike Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen are going to beat them in 1988," Dukakis said.
Bentsen, cheered by the partisan crowd as he stepped to the microphone, echoed Dukakis, saying, "The Massachusetts and the Texas axis was good for the country and good for the Democratic Party in 1960 and it's going to be a real winner in November of 1988."
Both men were accompanied by their wives, Kitty Dukakis and Beryl Bentsen. Kitty Dukakis appeared for the first time in public without her neck brace since her spinal surgery in early June, and Dukakis smiled at her and said, "Doesn't my bride look fantastic without that collar on."
Dukakis said Bentsen brought to the Democratic ticket "years of experience and a deep commitment to civil rights . . . that goes way back to the 1940s." Dukakis said Bentsen, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, stood for good jobs at good wages--a central theme of his campaign.
Bentsen said, "The fact that he's chosen a senator from Texas, a senator from the South, shows that we're going to fight for every state in the Union and we're going all-out to win." He said Dukakis, a son of Greek immigrants, was "living out his parents' dream but wants that dream a reality for all Americans."
Dukakis, in selecting Bentsen, served notice that he would not concede Texas and its 29 electoral votes to Vice President George Bush, the certain GOP nominee, who calls the state his home. Dukakis also added Washington experience and philosophical and geographical balance to the Democratic ticket.
The Massachusetts governor made the choice late Monday at a meeting with Paul Brountas, his longtime confidant, and campaign manager Susan Estrich.
He called Bentsen this morning and, after the senator agreed to join the ticket, went to his Statehouse office to telephone the six other men who were being considered for the vice presidential nomination, sources said.
Still, a stone-faced Jackson said "No" when asked at a Washington airport this morning if Dukakis had informed him of the choice of the Texas senator. Jackson nearly crossed paths at the airport with Bentsen, who was preparing to leave for Boston. The two did not meet.
At a Washington news conference 1 1/2 hours after Dukakis' announcement, Jackson was asked if he was angry.
"No, I'm too controlled, I'm too clear, I'm too mature to be angry," he said. Referring to the aspirations of his supporters, the black civil rights leader said, "I'm focused on what we must do to keep hope alive."
Jackson said he intends to pursue his own agenda and will have his name placed in nomination for the presidency next Wednesday at the Democratic National Convention that opens in Atlanta on July 18.