Dukakis's Aides Say Iowa Not Prelude to 1988 Race
As Gov. Michael S. Dukakis travels to Iowa this week, his status as a 1988 presidential candidate remains uncertain, political observers said yesterday.
Dukakis' press office has repeatedly denied that the governor has begun campaigning for next year's Iowan caucuses, which are considered an important testing ground for determining the potential success of presidential hopefuls.
But a group calling itself the "Draft Mike Committee" recently placed two full page ads in the Des Moines Register, urging voters to consider Dukakis as a candidate.
And during the next two days, Dukakis himself will be in Iowa for the National Governor's Association's task force on jobs, growth and competition. Dukakis is co-chairing the task force with Terry Winstad (?) the Republican governor Iowa.
"[Dukakis] has no intent of campaigning in Iowa. He is out there solely to see if he has anything to offer Iowa based on his experiences in Massachusetts," said Steven J. Akey, Dukakis' assistant press secretary.
"Our message to the [Draft Mike Committee] is 'Please stop," Akey said, adding that the committee is off on its own.
Akey said that Dukakis has not reached a decision on whether he will be a presidential candidate in 1988. "The governor won't decide until March," Akey said.
Political observers in Massachusetts said that Dukakis has not planned his trip to Iowa with a presidential bid in mind. "If this is a campaign trip, it's the worst planned Democratic campaign trip in history," said Michael Goldman, a leading political consultant. "He's staying with a Republican, visiting towns that are in good shape economically, and doesn't have any speaking engagements," Goldman said.
"It's a little known fact that Iowa is a keywintertime vacation spot," Goldman quipped,adding, "Dukakis' real motivation is to view thewinter wonderlands of the Iowan wheatfields."
Dukakis' entourage on his trip to Iowa includeshis wife, his press secretary, three aides and 23members of the press corps. Goldman said thatalthough Dukakis certainly isn't unhappy that thepress followed him, the governor had notspecifically invited them.
"This is really a pseudo-event," Goldman said,"the press made a determination that this tripmeant more than it meant."
However, the two full page ads that haveappeared in the Des Moines Register in the lastweek have definitely had an impact on Iowans, saidThomas A. Fogerty of the Register. "Dukakis hasbroken out of the pack in making himself known,"he said. Neither of the ads were officiallysanctioned by Dukakis.
"No one seems to come here accidentally, and Ithink there's a pretty strong possibility thatthis trip is politically motivated," Fogerty said.
The significance of the Iowan caucus, whichwill be the first vote for president in 1988, isdifficult to determine, Goldman said, but, "ifDukakis comes out of the caucuses better thanexpected, he can spin that off into a good showingin New Hampshire."
Of Dukakis' chances at winning the presidencyin 1988, Goldman said that the only certainty wasthat, "if he doesn't run, he won't win."
"Dukakis' chances and the whole '88 race dependon variables that are as yet undetermined," notthe least of which is that the field for 1988 isstill unknown, Goldman said