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Ex-U.S. Pres. Nominee Dukakis Backs Obama

Posted September. 04, 2008 09:27,   


Former U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis says he supports Barack Obama for president.

Dukakis, 75, now a professor at Northeastern University in Boston, lost to George H.W. Bush in the 1988 presidential election.

Born to a Greek immigrant family, Dukakis received his law degree from Harvard University. After serving as governor of Massachusetts, he became the Democratic Party`s nominee for president in 1988.

Though he enjoyed high popularity until his nomination, he lost the election due to mainly a smear campaign by the Republicans.

The Dong-A Ilbo held a phone interview with Dukakis about his experience 20 years ago.

On his impression of last month`s Democratic National Convention in Denver, he lauded Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.

“Obama is the person who knows the challenges facing our country better than anyone else. For instance, he presented the right solutions on the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. He visited Iraq to suggest that U.S. troops pull out within 16 months, and the U.S. and Iraq have recently reached tentative agreement on the issue," he said.

Retiring from politics after his election defeat, Dukakis has taught at Northeastern University and the University of California-Los Angeles for more than a decade. He always wears a gray jacket and white snickers on campus and does all of his administrative work himself.

He gives lectures on the U.S. presidency and institutional leadership. On what his students learn from him, Dukakis said how to correctly assess America’s international status.

“The president of the United States is and will remain the most influential leader in the world. But America started a ridiculous war in Iraq, betraying the international community which had strongly opposed the war. As a result, America’s global status was significantly damaged,” he said.

“In an international society that is becoming multi-polar, there will be no longer a sole super power. In this era, what is needed is genuine leadership.”

The genuine leadership must be in touch with grassroots, he said, adding that as a governor, he used to commute to work using mass transit to hear and learn from his citizens.

In December 1955, right after the end of the Korean War, he was dispatched to Korea and served at the U.N. Command delegation to the Military Armistice Commission in Munsan for 16 months. “At the time, Korea was an impoverished county wasted by war, but it helped broaden my horizons on the world outside of the United States,” he said.

On the notion that the United States is not the only country with public distrust of its leadership, he responded prudently but pointedly, saying, “It’s quite difficult to assess Korea’s situation but a leader can learn and hear nothing in a limousine isolated from the people.”

A self-professed pragmatic idealist, Dukakis said the advice he gives students most frequently as an educator is “The sky`s the limit!”