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Wright Advises Dukakis to ‘Be Himself, Relax’

Associated Press

House Speaker Jim Wright today advised his party’s presidential candidate, Michael S. Dukakis, to get rid of his slick commercials and “be himself, relax and say it like it is” for the final 26 days of the campaign.

“People who know Mike Dukakis like him,” Wright told reporters, “as a human being, warm, with feelings and convictions.”

He said the Massachusetts governor should “get rid of these commercials that try to hawk the candidate like toothpaste or soap flakes. . . . When that happens, we’re going to win.”

Wright (D-Tex.) called his comments “constructive suggestions” and not criticism of the Dukakis media machine, but added: “I think the media advisers (not just for Dukakis, but in general) are too clever by half.”

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He told a story of having bought a block of 30 minutes on television in one congressional campaign where he faced strong opposition, against the advice of media experts who told him that no one would listen for that long.

‘This Is Serious Business’

“You can’t tell me that people won’t listen to something serious,” Wright said. “This is serious business. This is the future of America.”

And he called the efforts of Vice President George Bush to base the GOP campaign on matters like the American flag and the Massachusetts prison furlough system “petty and silly and cheap and trivial.”

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“All the states have furlough programs, and he (Dukakis) inherited that from a Republican predecessor,” Wright said. To use it as campaign fodder is “unworthy of a presidential campaign. Perhaps if you were running for sheriff. . . .” Wright said.

“And for any party to claim the American flag as its exclusive property surely is beneath the dignity of a nation like this.”


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