Former Nominee Expects 2008 Election to Be Fiercely Partisan

By John Grennan
Photography by Gorbachev Lingad '10

Michael Dukakis

In remarks at the Soda Center on Feb. 25, Michael Dukakis — the 1988 Democratic presidential nominee — warned that his party’s 2008 presidential candidate will face harsh partisan attacks similar to those he faced 20 years ago.

His advice for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama — be prepared to defend yourself.

“I was burned badly by not responding; John Kerry was burned badly by not responding fast enough (in 2004),” he said. “You’ve got to respond and put responsibility for these kinds of attacks square in the lap of the Republican nominee from the get-go.”

Dukakis, a three-term Massachusetts governor in the 1970s and 80s, has served on the Amtrak Board of Directors and taught political science at Northeastern University and UCLA for the past 16 years. He was accompanied by his wife, Kitty, who spoke at a Women’s Studies forum.

Dukakis told more than 200 students, faculty and visitors that Democrats should contest all 50 states, noting that Democratic governors in places like Colorado and Montana demonstrate the political landscape is more fluid than some pundits say.

“It’s not clear why we call Kansas a ‘red state’ and Democrats concede it to the Republicans, when most people in Kansas are working people who are struggling,” he said.

During a panel discussion with students, Dukakis said he noticed young people are mobilized this election, particularly due to Obama’s candidacy.

“We’ve seen that young people are more involved in community service than before, and I want that to translate into public service,” he said. “The environment, homelessness and education — those are all political questions.”