Jackson Denies Being Asked to Avoid Some States
The Rev. Jesse Jackson on Thursday denied reports that top aides to Democratic presidential nominee Michael S. Dukakis have asked Jackson not to campaign for the party’s presidential ticket in states where their polls show he would turn off more voters than he would attract.
“I know of no such poll, and I have seen no such list,” Jackson told reporters at a news conference here during a break in a summit meeting he called of his key supporters from across the country to discuss voter registration and turnout efforts for the fall presidential campaign.
Jackson acknowledged, however, that the Dukakis camp had given him a “recommended list of places to campaign.” But, he said, where he goes and what he says “always will be with our consent and our own agreement” and that he intends to campaign “in every state I can get to.”
The reports by several publications, including the New York Times, that Jackson had been asked to avoid certain states have added to the growing concern about the delicate relationship between Jackson and Dukakis.
A source close to Jackson confirmed the substance of the reports and said that the denials by Jackson and the Dukakis forces may be a matter of semantics that is symptomatic of a much deeper rift between the two camps.
“They still don’t understand dealing with him,” this Jackson associate said. “It’s almost as if they don’t hear the nuances. They’re still approaching it (the campaign) in the ‘handle-Jesse’ mentality . . . and not making him a real part of it.”
The source said that Jackson finds “utterly baffling” the Dukakis camp’s reliance on polling in every state for opinions of Jackson and their decision that he should avoid those states in which surveys show that he has “high negatives.” Those states reportedly included Alabama, Michigan, Mississippi, New York and Texas.
Aides Acknowledge Problem
Dukakis aides insisted Thursday that the whole argument about whether or not there ever was a “list” of states has been drastically overblown. But privately, they acknowledged that tensions between the Jackson and Dukakis camps were a continuing problem.
“You can’t deal with him,” said one Dukakis aide who has participated in many negotiations with Jackson. “There’s always something else” that Jackson demands, the aide said.
At his news conference in a downtown Atlanta hotel, Jackson reiterated his support of the Democratic presidential ticket and said that “there’s nothing inconsistent with my work and the Democratic platform.”
He said that his campaign efforts will focus on family farmers, workers, unions, racial and ethnic minorities, women and college students--groups that he described as needing the Democratic Party.
“That is a winning coalition for the Democratic Party,” he said. “Our strength lies in those people who need to be Democrats, not with those who can afford to be Republicans.”
On another matter, Jackson and his top aides expressed concern about the integration of Jackson’s supporters with members of the Dukakis campaign in some states.
“In some places, it’s worked very well,” said Ron Brown, Jackson’s liaison to the Dukakis campaign, citing Colorado and New York as prime examples. “In other places, there hasn’t been integration of our people as fast as we would like it to be.”
Staff writers Karen Tumulty in New York and David Lauter with the Dukakis campaign in San Jose contributed to this story.