Michael S. Dukakis said today “I gave it my best shot” in a losing run for the White House and said Republican “distortions” were a key ingredient in George Bush’s victory.
At a valedictory campaign news conference in Boston, Dukakis congratulated the President-elect on a “decisive victory” but said he doubted that the nation’s new leader could claim a mandate.
He repeated his charges that Republican “media manipulators” resorted to highly negative commercials to defeat him and said the ads took their toll. He said he feared “this would be a signal now at the national level that this kind of campaigning is effective.”
Asked whether he felt his record had defeated him, Dukakis swiftly interrupted his questioner and said, “The distortion of that record contributed a great deal.”
He said he was disappointed but not bitter at the defeat, but said Republicans set a standard of negative campaigning that the nation “may live to regret.”
Dukakis said he wasn’t ready to offer a detailed analysis of the campaign, but noted that he lost several states by the relatively small margin of four percentage points or less.
“I wasn’t successful in getting my message through in the South and some parts of the West,” he said. But he quickly noted that voters in those regions continue to elect Democrats to local office, and said Democratic presidential candidates need to find a way to appeal to those regions.
Some Good Days
“I gave it my best shot. We had our good days and our not-so-good days,” he said.
Dukakis was asked several times about the negative commercials aired by Bush, and about the President-elect’s decision to name the architect of his campaign, James A. Baker III, to be the new secretary of state.
“I believe in the redemption of souls,” he said.
Dukakis said the Democratic Party remains healthy nationally, but he side-stepped a question about whether he would once again seek the presidency.
He said he was now ready to return to his duties as governor of Massachusetts. “I will be digging into that vigorously and fully,” he said.