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Dukakis Draws Heavy Crowds, Money, Press

May 25, 1987|BOB DROGIN | Times Staff Writer

According to federal income tax returns released by his campaign, Dukakis and his wife reported cash contributions to charity last year of $3,732 from an adjusted gross income of $83,409. Most of that was his $75,000 salary. They paid $19,299 in tax. His accountant, Harris Coles, said Dukakis owns no property other than his Brookline home.

Once out of office, Dukakis lectured for four years at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. In 1982, he ran a bitter rematch against King. This time, Dukakis won. And last year, riding a wave of prosperity, he was reelected by a 69% landslide.

For the last five years, Dukakis has presided over what he touts as the "Massachusetts Miracle." Fueled by billions in defense spending, a growing high-tech economy, and a booming service industry, the state has one of the nation's lowest jobless rates--3.6% in 1986. More than 300,000 new jobs have been created, and 54,000 new businesses started.

Spreading the Wealth

Dukakis hopes his campaign can reap the benefit. He tells audiences that he has cut taxes five times in four years, gotten 30,000 families off welfare through the Employment and Training Choices program, turned a tax-amnesty and revenue enforcement program into a national model, and spread the wealth through regional development.

But critics say Dukakis claims too much credit. A study released last year by two Harvard scholars says his administration's initiatives "may have helped" sustain the economic revival, but that new state policies "were too limited and too late to be important explanations of the turnaround."

Dukakis bristles at the criticism. "I don't think there's any question that we've helped ensure that economic opportunity is as widespread as possible," he said.

Dukakis' campaign manager is John Sasso, a close aide and a skilled political operative who won his battle stripes as campaign manager for 1984 Democratic vice presidential nominee Geraldine A. Ferraro.

Sasso has crafted a campaign designed to ease voters' fears. For those disenchanted with Ronald Reagan, Dukakis is "engaged," "vigorous," and a "hands-on manager" who "believes in the rule of law and the Constitution," Sasso said. "Some of the things lacking in this Administration," he added.

For those concerned about Gary Hart-like questions of character, Dukakis tells audiences he is "blessed by a terrific wife and three wonderful kids." Mrs. Dukakis says her husband returns home from the Statehouse most nights at 6 to eat dinner with his family, and often walks the children to public school.

Dukakis says he "never contemplated" a presidential bid until January. One factor was the Iran- contra scandal. "I thought I could do a better job," he said. Another was a close look at the prospects of a "favorite son's" candidacy in neighboring New Hampshire.

On the campaign trail, he is easy-going, unflappable, and tries to remember not to wave his arms as he speaks. He will campaign in Iowa, New Hampshire and Florida this week. And he says he is having the time of his life.

"People ask me, 'Are you tired? Is this a grind?' " Dukakis said. "Are you kidding? My folks came over on the boat. And I'm running for President!"

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