By Andrea Asuaje
BU News Service
Former Massachusetts Governor and Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis made a surprise appearance this morning at the joint Massachusetts and Washington State delegation breakfast at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Dukakis and his wife Kitty spoke to the delegations and pushed for all Democrats to get out the vote in their neighborhoods. They noted the importance of the grassroots effort in the election of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.
He agreed to answer a few questions after the breakfast. Here’s what he had to say:
BU News Service: What do you think of the convention so far, and how can the party come together to support Hillary Clinton?
Michael Dukakis: It’s been a great convention. I mean the contrast between this and that gong show in Cleveland is like night and day. And I think thanks to Senator [Bernie] Sanders, we’re a lot closer to going out of here in a very strong and unified way than we were coming in. But this is all about the field now, as far as I’m concerned. We’ve gotta take the message out to all of these delegates, because we’ve only got 100 days. And we’ve got an election.
BUNS: How do you think Hillary Clinton can bring Sanders supporters to her side?
Dukakis: I think they’re coming. And every day with Donald Trump brings them closer. This latest thing yesterday is just unbelievable. [Note: On Wednesday, Donald Trump said in a press conference that he hoped Russian hackers would find Clinton’s deleted emails.] I mean this guy’s not qualified to be state rep, let alone president of the United States. But there are folks out there, notwithstanding how much better this country is and was when Barack Obama took over, you know there’s still people out there who are hurting. And you can tell them it’s the trade problem that’s causing their stress. It’s not the trade problem. It’s the lack of investment, spending too much money on the military and bases all over the world instead of putting those resources into what we’re doing here and getting these folks back to work. You don’t hear anything about that from Trump or the Republican party. And that’s the message we have to bring to people.
BUNS: How about independent voters?
Dukakis: Exactly in the same way. They’re always the folks that make a difference in elections. You always have 20 percent in the middle that always move back and forth. I hope they’re appalled by what they’ve been seeing from the Republicans and Trump especially. I don’t see how anybody who’s serious about this country can listen to this guy and conclude he ought to be the president of the United States. But that’s why we have to be in their neighborhoods, in their precincts, knocking on those doors. That’s the most effective way to make this happen.
BUNS: What did you think of President Obama’s speech last night?
Dukakis: I thought last night was terrific. It wasn’t just the president. He’s always good. I thought Biden was terrific. I thought Tim Kaine was terrific. He’s got an interesting style to him and I’ve always been an admirer and his father-in-law, who was the Republican civil rights governor of Virginia who desegregated the schools, we served on the Amtrak board together. And Linwood Holton, there’s nobody better. And he’s very proud of his Democratic son-in-law. But I think it’s a very formidable line-up, and those folks now have to go out across the country and say to the rest of the country what they said to us last night. I think it’s going to be very powerful. But you can’t minimize the importance of grassroots organization, especially now.
BUNS: What are you looking forward to tonight, when Hillary Clinton accepts the nomination?
Dukakis: We’ve (Dukakis and his wife Kitty) known Hillary and Bill Clinton forever. We were young governors together, young spouses together, she and Kitty were part of the spouses group of the governors, Bill Clinton nominated me in Atlanta in 1988. She’s warm, she’s funny. I mean, one of the problems that happens in these races is that people begin to develop a narrative about you. I mean, I was the bloodless technocrat. Whatever we are or are not, that was kind of the line on me. She’s kind of remote, runs away from the press, a lot of nonsense. Absolute nonsense. And one of the ways that you break that down is to have real live Americans in those neighborhoods, knocking on people’s doors. And we gotta do it. Fast.