MINNEAPOLIS--Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis scored a victory in Minnesota's Democratic caucuses last night and posted a strong second to Rep. Richard Gephardt's (D.-Mo.) self-proclaimed "great victory" in neighboring South Dakota, two states that Dukakis noted are "a long way from Massachusetts."
In the Republican contest, Sen. Robert Dole (R.-Kan.) scored an impressive victory in the South Dakota Republican primary last night and bid for a back-up win in Minnesota's presidential caucuses, with Vice President George Bush far behind in both states. Dole defeated former television evangelist Pat Robertson to win Minnesota's Republican presidential caucuses last night, with Bush a distant fourth behind Rep. Jack Kemp (R.-N.Y.).
Dukakis won the Minnesota Democratic presidential caucuses last night in a demonstration of voter appeal outside his native New England. The Rev. Jesse Jackson and Sen. Paul Simon (D.-III.) were locked in a tight race for second place.
As Dukakis and Gephardt dueled for the mantle of Democratic frontrunner, the Massachusetts governor had a prophecy for the still-muddled race: "This is a marathon. It's going to be a long one."
"We did well in these two states which are a long way from Massachusetts and very much in the backyard of some of the rest of these candidates," Dukakis said in New York City, referring to Gephardt and Simon.
"If we can continue to do consistently well as we did tonight, we're going to win this nomination for the presidency," Dukakis said.
"It's a great victory in South Dakota," countered Gephardt. "Tonight is a Gephardt night."
Dukakis targeted both states early, but Gephardt staged a last-minute campaign blitz in South Dakota in an effort to head off a Midwest sweep by the rival who beat him last week in New Hampshire.
With 93 percent of the South Dakota vote counted, Gephardt had 45 percent, followed by Dukakis at 30 percent. Trailing were Sen. Albert Gore Jr. '69 (D.-Tenn.) at 8 percent, Gary Hart at 6 percent, Jackson at 5 percent and Simon at 5 percent.
And with 22 percent of the results reported in Minnesota, Dukakis had 34 percent, Simon 19 percent, Jackson 18 percent and Gephardt 8 percent. Eighteen percent of the delegates were uncommitted. Gore and Hart each had I percent.
Dukakis was looking for a victory outside his native New England, while Simon needed a strong showing to keep his faltering campaign going when attention shifts to the South for Super Tuesday, March 8, when 20 states will hold primaries or caucuses.
Gephardt, who came in first in Iowa's precinct caucuses, concentrated his efforts on South Dakota. His Minnesota supporters expected a third-place showing at best.
Simon predicted respectable showings in both states while conceding he had little chance at a victory in either. After finishing third in New Hampshire, Simon admitted he was having trouble raising money to keep his campaign going.
"I have to do respectably and I have to appeal to people to vote their conscience rather than the commercials," Simon said on his final day of campaigning in Minnesota.
Dukakis was the best-organized Democratic candidate in Minnesota and spent the most money. His supporters recognized that anything less than a victory in Minnesota would jolt his effort to prove he could win outside the Northeast.
Gephardt ran advertisements in South Dakota asserting that Dukakis knew nothing of agriculture, recalling Dukakis' suggestion in Iowa a year ago that farmers should turn to products such as Belgian endive and blueberries. Dukakis countered with an ad saying that "while Dick Gephardt has been publicly promising to fight for you, he's taking political action committee money from corporate insiders and Washington lobbyists."
Jackson, who drew large, enthusiastic crowds during visits to Minnesota, was considered a wild card in the state's Democratic race. Gore and Hart virtually ignored the state.
In the Republican race, Bush read the writing on the wall and made little effort in both Midwestern states, focusing instead on the South.
Dole, a loser last week in New Hampshire, said, "It's a lot more fun winning."
In holding their primaries yesterday, South Dakota and Minnesota Democrats were bucking the national party to hold their contests earlier than party rules allowed.