Dukakis Speaks on '96 Campaign

Former Massachusetts governor Michael S. Dukakis emphasized the importance of grassroot campaigns to Democratic success in the 1996 elections, speaking to approximately 80 students yesterday afternoon at Boylston auditorium.

"I think Mr. Gingrich and his friends are giving the Democratic Party in this country a huge political advantage," Dukakis said. "These guys are confirming everything we said about Republicans."

The hour-long forum, sponsored by the Harvard-Radcliffe College Democrats, began with Dukakis' address and ended with a question and answer period.

Dukakis called a "growing and pervasive sense of economic insecurity on the part of the working people in this country" the most important problem in America today.

"[The problem is] not only economic insecurity in the workplace, but it's the growing and pervasive sense of health insecurity," Dukakis added.


Dukakis also spoke on deficit relief, middle class tax cuts, college aid and universal health care, saying Republican spending cuts are harming much needed programs.

"It is getting to the point that middle class families in this country are going broke sending their kids to college," Dukakis said.

Speaking about the 1996 elections, Dukakis said, "If Clinton wins and we get at least the House back, that will be a stunning repudiation [of the Republican agenda.]"

Dukakis suggested cutting the social security rate and eliminating the wage cap, which he said would balance the budget while making social security less regressive and giving middle class Americans a tax break.

"If the minimum wage in 1965 had kept up with inflation in this country, today it could be $6.25," he said.

The former governor said political strength in upcoming national elections will lie in grassroot and precinct politics.

"We've forgotten that our strength lies in grassroot politics, and I mean grassroots politics," Dukakis said. "Door to door, person to person, grassroots campaigning makes a difference, and we [the Democrats] aren't doing it."

Following the speech some students said they doubted the merits of grassroots campaigning.

"I don't know how realistic it is," Enmi Sung '99 said. "I don't know how relevant that [grassroot campaigning] would be in metropolitan settings."

Others said Dukakis failed to make the message of grassroots campaigning clear to his listeners.

"I thought he kept coming to the same point superficially," said Gabriel J. Leon '99. "Maybe he should have gone broader."

"I like what he said. If its true, it sounds great," Leon added.

"It seems like he came here with a very clear intent of inspiring us," said Sung, adding. "He did a good job of it.