This article originally appeared in the May 1, 1987 issue of the Boston Phoenix.
“I want to begin this campaign with a question,” Michael Dukakis said in formally announcing his candidacy last Wednesday. “Why have we come together?”
For a press corps looking for a new angle on the second Dukakis announcement in a month and a half, that was precisely the question: what did Dukakis have to say that justified this second, formal, four-stop – Manchester, Boston, Atlanta, and Des Moines – announcement tour?
Precious little, it turned out. The vague thematic speeches Dukakis delivered in Manchester at nine and on Boston Common at noon were nothing more than polished versions of the “preannouncement” speech he gave on March 16, when he first informed the country he would run for president. In fact, line after line was lifted all but verbatim from the earlier speech.
On Wednesday Dukakis summed up the sine qua non of his candidacy this way: “Above all, I believe our children have a right to live in a country that has sustained and vibrant economic growth that creates genuine economic opportunity for every American in the land.” Last March Dukakis put it this way: “It is a message of good jobs and economic opportunity and vibrant, sustained economic growth for every American in every part of this country. It is a message of opportunity for all.”
In preannouncing, Dukakis defined his social values thusly: “It is the message that idealism works — that the old values of caring and compassion and concern for others are as good as ever.” In announcing , the governor had this to say: “I believe our children have a right to live in a country that is caring and compassionate and concerned about all of its citizens.”
Part of the Dukakis presidential game plan is to market the governor’s integrity and competence — the candidate’s so-called character. “The next president of the United States will face challenges that no campaign position paper can possibly anticipate,” Dukakis said on March 16. “But what can be measured in advance is the character of the person who will confront those challenges.”
“Two years from now a new president will enter the White House,” he said last Wednesday. “We can’t possibly predict all the problems and the challenges that person will face. But we can predict the character and competence of the person who will sit in the Oval Office.”
On March 16 Dukakis packaged his personal qualities this way: “I want my stand on national defense to be measured not just in hardware but also in the passion I feel for these free shores that welcomed Kitty’s family and my own.”
Even the announcement’s closing, a reference to an ancient Greek civic pledge, was cribbed from the preannouncement speech. “This has been my pledge to you, the people of Massachusetts,” Dukakis concluded on March 16. “And this will be my pledge to all the citizens of the country.” “Until today, this has been my pledge to the people of Massachusetts,” Dukakis said last week. “from this day forward, it will be my pledge to the American people.”