Pols, Comics, Writers

Convention Notebook

Comedian Mark Russell, in Atlanta for the Democratic festivities, said he's not sure who'll be elected president in November but that he doesn't really care.

"I can't tell the difference between [Michael S. Dukakis and George Bush]. They're both like the guy we remember from high school at the junior prom: both he and his date brought their homework," Russell said.

Russell, a noted political satirist, said he has had great fun lampooning President Reagan. Dukakis and Bush will prove to be harder, less exciting targets for his barbs, Russell said.

In what will undoubtedly be the first of many disavowals, New York Gov. Mario Cuomo said last night he has no interest in seeking the White House in 1992. "1992? 1992?," the governor said as his entourage chuckled. Cuomo insisted he will back a Michael S. Dukakis re-election bid four years from now.

Another reporter ribbed Cuomo about his 1984 keynote address: "They say [Ann Richards] did a better job than you did."


Ever humble, Cuomo replied, "Well that's not hard to do... If I was forced to [compare the past two keynote addresses] I'd say hers was better."

As Cuomo prepared to leave, a reporter asked him if he supported statehood for Puerto Rico. "I don't know. I support Mike Dukakis. How does Mike Dukakis stand on statehood for Puerto Rico?" Cuomo asked.

Sen. Dale Bumpers of Arkansas, who seriously considered running for president himself, praised Dukakis for picking Texas Sen. Lloyd M. Bentsen as his running mate. "Without a doubt, without question, [the Dukakis Bentsen ticket] is going to do well in the South. Bentsen is a very good choice for the South."

Bumpers, after much agonizing, opted to sit out the 1988 presidential race, a decision he says he has since questioned. "It wouldn't be normal not to have second thoughts from time to time," Bumpers said. But nonetheless, the senator says he feels "pretty comfortable" with the decision not to run.

Seen roaming the halls of the Omni Convention center: New York author and media personality Tama Janowitz. Apparently bored by the political goings-on, she left the convention after less than an hour. Another writer touring the press building: Tom Wolfe.

Former House Speaker Tip O'Neill, when asked about whether the Democrats would be unified after the convention, said "I certainly hope so. There's no question about it. I haven't seen a convention this excited since 1960. There's an electricity... We all want to work together and we all want to elect the next president."

Texas State Treasurer Ann Richards, the keynote speaker last night, has her eyes on the governor's mansion in Texas. Shortly after her electrifying address, she was asked if she would be the next governor of the Lone Star State. "I certainly hope so," Richards responded.