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1 April 2015 Campaigns and disability
Michael S. Dukakis
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Former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis knows about the damage that disability can cause—even its mere mention. In this keynote address given to the symposium on Presidential Disability and Succession held at Northeastern University in Boston last spring, Dukakis reflected on his famous 1988 presidential campaign that, largely at his expense, redefined negativity in presidential politics, in particular the fictitious allegation that he had a history of mental illness. A distinguish professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Northeastern University, Dukakis also spends each winter quarter at UCLA as a visiting professor in the Luskin School of Public Affairs. He remains active in both politics and public policy, canvassing for Democratic candidates such as Elizabeth Warren during her 2012 Senate campaign and promoting policy initiatives through the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern, which he affectionately calls a “think and do tank.” The three-term governor (1975-1979 and 1983-1991) was voted Most Effective Governor by the National Governor's Association in 1986. After his first term in the late 1970s he lost a nasty primary election to Ed King, whom he would later defeat to reclaim office. Though it wasn't apparent at the time, for Dukakis, that 1978 campaign would serve as a precursor for the attack politics that were unloosed during the 1988 presidential campaign. In the remarks that follow, he offers a candid assessment of how not going negative may have cost him the presidency, and how an offhand remark by President Reagan (quickly retracted) caused the press to obsess over Dukakis' health record for the better part of a week—enough to slow his momentum during a crucial stage of campaigning.

Michael S. Dukakis "Campaigns and disability," Politics and the Life Sciences 33(2), 88-92, (1 April 2015).
Published: 1 April 2015

1988 presidential campaign
Kitty Dukakis
mental illness
Michael Dukakis
presidential politics
state politics
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