Back in 1988, Michael Dukakis beat Al Gore for the Democratic nomination for president. Then Dukakis lost the fall race to Republican George Herbert Walker Bush.
And that was that.
Dukakis went back to Massachusetts, finished his term as the state’s highly-regarded governor.
Gore went back to the Senate, passed on a 1992 presidential run and then ended up as Bill Clinton’s vice president and the 2000 Democratic nominee for president. Then he became a movie star, won a Grammy and picked up a Nobel Peace Prize.
They are both good men. But you won’t hear much about them in a Democratic debate these days. History has moved forward, except for in a Republican Party that seems to be more interested in the political contests of the 1980s than the challenges of the 21st century.
Wednesday night’s NBC/Politico debate at the Ronald Reagan Library between the Republican presidential candidates featured frequent and bizarre tangles between the contenders over Gore and Dukakis — and, of course, former President Reagan.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who arrived at the Reagan Library on a mission to stall Texas Governor Rick Perry’s rise in the polls, took the first shot.
Perry has been talking up the relative economic vibrance of Texas, but Romney argued the Texan’s policies had less to do with it than state tax policies and a right-to-work law that were in place long before Perry took charge. "Governor Perry doesn’t believe that he created those things," said Romney. "If he did, it would be like Al Gore saying he created the Internet."
Instead of responding, Perry told Romney: "Michael Dukakis created created jobs three times faster than you did, Mitt."
Here’s the backstory.
In the 1980s, while Ronald Reagan served in the White House, Rick Perry was a Democrat. He had been elected to the state legislature in 1984 on a ticket led by Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale. In 1988, he backed Tennessee Senator Gore for the Democratic Presidential nomination, even serving according to some accounts as a Gore campaign chair. Later that year, Perry was reelected to the legislature on a Democratic ticket led by Michael Dukakis.