State Senate President Pro Tem David A. Roberti angrily pulled five of his staff members off Dukakis’ campaign after Dukakis failed to appear at Roberti’s big fund-raiser Wednesday night at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
“He was very upset,” said a top Dukakis campaign official of Roberti, who had been promised that Dukakis would come by.
Although Roberti could not be reached, the Dukakis campaign official confirmed that Roberti had pulled five staff members who were on loan to the Dukakis effort in California, a state many political observers believe the Democrat has to win if he is to become President.
Two of those pulled were in key positions, including one who was helping reach Asians, who make up about 7% of the state population.
The incident appeared to underline communications problems between the state headquarters and campaign officials based in Boston.
Dukakis also canceled an appearance Thursday morning before about 1,000 senior citizens in Los Angeles, some of whom had been told by Mayor Tom Bradley’s office and by U.S. Senate candidate Lt. Gov. Leo T. McCarthy that Dukakis would speak.
The Dukakis campaign official, who requested anonymity, said: “Look, both appearances were scheduled two weeks ago, when it looked like Dukakis would have a lot of time here before the debate. But with so much riding on the debate the (national campaign advisers) felt he had to spend his time in preparation. These things happen.”
Another source said Dukakis called Roberti to apologize for not attending the fund-raising dinner Wednesday night.