The shadow of New York Gov. Mario M. Cuomo still looms large over the Democratic campaign trail, but in snowy Minnesota on Friday comments by Cuomo appeared designed to cast an admiring light on Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis.
Cuomo, whom some Democrats still expect to enter the race, told the New York Daily News that Dukakis was a political soul mate with a potential lock on the Democratic nomination. In the interview, given just days before the Iowa caucuses, Cuomo said that a victory by Dukakis in Iowa would put him "so far out in front so quickly that nobody will be able to catch him before the convention."
Cuomo said it was "too early" to commit to Dukakis or any other candidate but suggested that he senses a winner in Dukakis. "In the beginning he wasn't as forceful or emotional as he should have been," Cuomo said. "Now he is."
In St. Paul, the Dukakis campaign reacted with restrained delight. Campaign aides passed out copies of the Daily News article to reporters at a press conference, and Dukakis said he believed "Gov. Cuomo's nice comments will be helpful (in Iowa), and I appreciate it."
But with endorsements by Cuomo and other leading Democrats who opted out of the race likely to have a major impact, Dukakis was all humility.
"I've got to earn his support," he said. "And I think if we can demonstrate some real strength in the early contests, then maybe I can get his endorsement."