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ALAN. POGUE Third choice of Texas Democrats Southerner on the ticket. What worries Democrats who are not on the Dukakis bandwagon, though, is the possibility that the Massachusetts governor won’t sell in Texas, especially if the state’s voters continue to be kind to George Bush. How would Dukakis handle himself in Texas if he were to become the nominee? His primary campaign gave a few significant clues. Dukakis drew large crowds in the weeks before Super Tuesday, as curious Democrats sought to learn more about the frontrunner. Before 1,000 people at the LBJ School of Public Affairs in Austin February 26, Dukakis was asked by an audience member how he expected to do better in the South and the West than either George Bush or Robert Dole. Dukakis took in the question and paused meditatively. “Mr. Bush . . . \(he paused took on a slightly dyspeptic expression. “What a pair!” he said, as the audience laughed and applauded. And that was all he needed to say about Bush and Dole. He went on to answer the question, invoking John F. Kennedy, as he had several times in his speech. “The reason John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson won in 1960,” he said, “is because they went to the American people with a message of hope and confidence and optimism about the future of this country. They understood that genuine economic opportunity for every citizen in this country, in every part of this country, no matter who they are and where they come from or what the color of their skin, is what the American dream is all about.” If the Democratic Party is going to win the Presidency, he said, “it’s going to be with a message of a strong economic future and good jobs at good wages and real economic opportunity for our workers and farmers. . . ” This is the language of mood and image not entirely different from that of early Ronald Reagan campaigns. It springs out of a Dukakis strategy to portray himself as the kind of leader who is capable of bringing economic prosperity by dint of his smarts and competance. The American people, he said in his Austin speech, “deserve a President who knows how to balance a budget and mop up Republican red ink and has done it. A President who knows how to build a strong economy and has done it. A President who has been tested in the fires of debt and deficit and hard economic times. A President with the strength, the skills and the values to take charge of our economic future and get our nation moving again.” It’s 90 percent hooey, to be sure, but it’s also a marketing strategy that may work. Already George Bush, who has a tendency to echo the lines that worked for Reagan, is casting himself as the alternative to Democratic “gloomsayers.” Such a line of attack might seem out-of-date against Dukakis: there is very little gloom in his pitch. What he proposes is nothing short of economic miracleworking, if only voters will give him the chance. In many respects, the economic ideas espoused by Dukakis are not far from the popular beliefs of the state’s Democratic business establishment. He emphasizes education, research, and high technology just as Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby and his protege Jess Hay do. Dukakis extolled the “explosion in state-supported, public-private research and development” such as seen in North Carolina’s Research Triangle and this state’s Houston Area Research Center and the newly won Sematech consortium. “Instead of running away from foreign competition, you are creating partnerships for the future that are turning new ideas into new jobs,” Dukakis said. The lesson here is that “we must change work for us, not against us,” he said, and that “research is the key to building new industries, and to saving our existing industries and to creating a brighter future for American workers and for their families.” Along with such talk comes a healthy portion of what might be called traditional Democratic liberalism. He speaks of reordering the government’s spending priorities away from the military budget and toward productive domestic programs. The first program that Dukakis enumerated in his Austin speech was for day care. “I’ll work with Congress to create a National Day Care Partnership. that will bring good child care and pre-school education to every community in America,” he said. He added a wry remark about Ronald Reagan’s notion that available child care would somehow hurt society’s family structure. Any Presi dent who hopes to be in touch with the reality of working families had better be dedicated to a workable child care program, he said. In a press conference afterwards, Dukakis was asked what he would do about jobs lost due to military spending cuts. One thing we should have learned from Japan’s example, he responded, is that you don’t have to have excessive military spending to have jobs. “We’ve got to make that transition,” Dukakis said. He proposed, for example, that spending on weapons be diverted to public transit. “There are no companies in America today who can make a transit car,” he said. “Now, the same people that make your MX missile can make a transit car.” But what of the notion that Dukakis lacks the ability to inspire? To some extent there is reason to worry about the candidate’s . style. He is not a rousing speaker though he is better when speaking off the cuff than off the telepromter. Phrases such as “Here in the South you’ve developed one of the finest systems of post-secondary vocational education in the country,” simply don’t bring people to their feet. As well, his New England matter-of-factness can easily be taken for brusqueness. “Tell me what your name is,” he sometimes says dryly as he thrusts out his hand, which is not exactly . the “Hah, how’re yew” that people here are accustomed to. On the other hand, he is the candidate who most easily breaks down cultural barriers with the 21 percent of the state that is Hispanic. At a campaign appearance in . Houston, Dukakis approached a woman, shook her hand and greeted her in English. . She seemed suddenly embarrassed not to have understood what he said, and shook her head. Dukakis quickly asked “Como se llama?” She told him her name. “De que pais?” he asked. She said she was from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. He exchanged another pleasantry and moved on. The woman looked as if she’d just seen the Pope. It was in Houston that Dukakis made one of his most revealing campaign stops. On March 3 he spoke to about 1,000 members of The Metropolitan Organization, a churchbased organization that, is part of the Industrial Areas Foundation network. Here Dukakis encountered one of the most authentic forces of progressive populism in the Southwest in which people are organized around the simple goal of moving the wheels of government to benefit working class and poor people. Representatives from more than a half dozen of the IAF groups around the state were on hand to apprise Dukakis of the issues important to them. They asked for his stances on housing and health care, on building infrastructure and creating jobs, and on agriculture and education issues. Dukakis referred to programs he had put in place in Massachusetts to create a stateassisted housing program and a new state health insurance plan. Citing figures that THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9