Hubo aquel año hasta nueve precandidatos demócratas luchando por la Casa Blanca: el ex Gobernador Bruce Babbit, de Arizona; el Senador Joe Biden, de Delaware; el Gobernador Michael Dukakis, de Massachusetts; el Congresista Dick Gephardt, de Missouri; el Senador Al Gore, de Tennessee; el ex Senador Gary Hart, de Colorado; el reverendo afroamericano Jesse Jackson; la Congresista Pat Schroeder, de Colorado; y el Senador Paul Simon, de Illinois.
En la imagen: actualización de los resultados del Caucus demócrata de Iowa la noche del 8 de febrero de 1988. Dick Gephardt sería el ganador.
(...) In the 1984 presidential election the Democrats had nominated Walter Mondale, a traditional New Deal-type liberal as their candidate. When Mondale was defeated in a landslide, party leaders became eager to find a new approach to win the presidency. After Reagan's image was tarnished in the Iran-Contra scandal, and after the Democrats won back control of the Senate in the 1986 congressional elections, the party's leaders felt more optimistic about winning the Presidency in 1988.
One goal of the party was to find a new, fresh candidate who could move beyond the traditional New Deal-Great Society ideas of the past and offer a new image of the Democrats to the public. To this end party leaders tried to recruit the New York Governor, Mario Cuomo, to be a candidate. Cuomo had impressed many Democrats with his stirring keynote speech at the 1984 Democratic Convention, and they believed that he would be a strong candidate. However, Cuomo chose not to run. As a result, the Democratic frontrunner for most of 1987 was former Colorado Senator Gary Hart. He had made a strong showing in the 1984 presidential election and, after Mondale's defeat, had positioned himself as the moderate centrist many Democrats felt their party would need to win.
However, questions and rumors about possible extramarital affairs dogged Hart's campaign. One of the great myths is that Senator Hart challenged the media to "put a tail" on him. In fact, Hart had told reporters from The New York Times who questioned him about these rumors that, if they followed him around, they would "be bored". However, in a separate investigation, the Miami Herald had received an anonymous tip from a friend of Donna Rice that Rice was involved with Hart. It was only after Hart had been discovered that the Herald reporters found Hart's quote in a copy of the New York Times magazine. After the Herald's findings were publicized, many other media outlets picked up the story and Hart's ratings in the polls plummeted. On May 8, 1987, a week after the Donna Rice story broke, Hart dropped out of the race. In December 1987, Hart surprised many political pundits by resuming his presidential campaign. However, the allegations of adultery had delivered a fatal blow to his candidacy, and he did poorly in the primaries before dropping out again.
Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts had been considered a potential candidate, but he ruled himself out of the 1988 campaign in the fall of 1985. Two other politicians mentioned as possible candidates, both from Arkansas, didn't join the race: Senator Dale Bumpers and Governor (and future President) Bill Clinton. (Clinton said in 2007 he changed his mind the day before he was to announce a run, he felt that he wasn't ready for the Presidency in 1988, and that he would wait until 1992 or 1996 before trying.)
Joe Biden's campaign also ended in controversy after the Delaware Senator was accused of plagiarizing a speech by Neil Kinnock, then-leader of the British Labour Party. Though Biden had correctly credited the original author in all speeches but one, the one where he failed to make mention of the originator was caught on video and parlayed into a political hit piece by the Dukakis campaign. In the video Biden is filmed repeating a stump speech by Kinnock, with only minor modifications. This would lead him to drop out of the race. Dukakis later revealed that his campaign was responsible for leaking the tape, and two members of his staff resigned. The Delaware Supreme Court's Board on Professional Responsibility would later clear Biden of the law school plagiarism charges.
Al Gore, a Senator from Tennessee, also chose to run for the nomination. Turning 40 in 1988, he would have been the youngest man ever to contest the Presidency on a major party ticket since William Jennings Bryan in 1900 , and the youngest president ever if elected, surpassing both John F. Kennedy by election age and Theodore Roosevelt by age at assumption.
After Hart withdrew from the race, no clear frontrunner emerged before the primaries and caucuses began. The Iowa caucus was won by Dick Gephardt, who had been sagging heavily in the polls until, three weeks before the vote, he began campaigning as a populist and his numbers surged. Illinois Senator Paul M. Simon finished a surprising second, and Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis finished third. In the New Hampshire primary, Dukakis came in first place, Gephardt fell to second, and Simon came in third.
En la imagen: Dukakis celebra su victoria en la primaria de New Hampshire.
Dukakis clearly had to win in New Hampshire. He was a next-door neighbor who had served two non-consecutive terms as the Bay State governor. He was also known as the host of an issues program distributed by PBS. Moreover, his Greek immigrant father had first settled in Manchester.Dukakis had helped himself with anti-nuclear power activists within the state Democratic Party. He had temporarily blocked the licensing of the Seabrook nuclear power plant with his refusal to let Massachusetts participate in federally-required emergency planning.
Win Dukakis did, his 44,112 votes giving him an almost two-to-one margin over Gephardt, who polled 24,513. Simon was third with 21,094.
"A terrific boost; we went for the gold and we won it," Dukakis said of his victory during an Olympic year.
Gephardt, who had won the Iowa caucus, expressed pleasure with second place, saying, "A week ago, they said I couldn't compete in New Hampshire."
In an effort to weaken Gephardt's candidacy, both Dukakis and Tennessee Senator Al Gore ran negative television ads against Gephardt. The ads convinced the United Auto Workers, which had endorsed Gephardt, to withdraw their endorsement; this crippled Gephardt, as he relied heavily on the support of labor unions.
In the Super Tuesday races, Dukakis won six primaries, to Gore's five, Jesse Jackson five and Gephardt one, with Gore and Jackson splitting the Southern states. The next week, Simon won Illinois with Jesse Jackson finishing second.
1988 remains the race with the most candidates winning primaries since the McGovern reforms of 1971. Jackson captured 6.9 million votes and won 11 contests; seven primaries (Alabama, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Puerto Rico and Virginia) and four caucuses (Delaware, Michigan, South Carolina and Vermont). Jackson also scored March victories in Alaska's caucuses and Texas's local conventions, despite losing the Texas primary. Briefly, after he won 55% of the vote in the Michigan Democratic caucus, he was considered the frontrunner for the nomination, as he surpassed all the other candidates in total number of pledged delegates.
However, Jackson's campaign suffered a significant setback less than two weeks later when he was defeated handily in the Wisconsin primary by Michael Dukakis. Dukakis's win in New York and then in Pennsylvania effectively ended Jackson's hopes for the nomination.
The Democratic Party Convention was held in Atlanta, Georgia. The Dukakis nominating speech delivered by Arkansas governor Bill Clinton was widely criticized as too long and tedious.
With most candidates having withdrawn and asking their delegates to vote for Dukakis, the tally for president was as follows:
*Michael Dukakis 2687
*Jesse Jackson 1218
*Joseph Biden 2
*Richard Gephardt 2
*Gary Hart 1
*Lloyd Bentsen 1
Jesse Jackson's campaign believed, that since they had come a respectable second, they demanded the Vice presidential spot. Dukakis refused, and gave the spot to senator Lloyd Bentsen (D - Texas).
Bentsen was selected in large part to secure the state of Texas and its large electoral vote for the Democrats. Because of Bentsen's status of something of an elder statesman who was more experienced in elected politics, many believed Dukakis' selection of Bentsen as his running mate was a mistake in that Bentsen, number two on the ticket, appeared more "presidential" than did Dukakis. During the vice-presidential debate, Republican candidate and Senator Dan Quayle ignored a head-on confrontation with Bentsen (aside from the "Jack Kennedy comparison) and spent his time attacking Dukakis. (...)