To help promote unity, Jesse Jackson will not run for vice president, as the Democratic National Convention began Monday night.
Jackson broke that news to his state chairmen at a meeting Sunday night, Utah delegate Marvin Davis said. Three of Utah's 28 delegates are pledged to Jackson.Then Monday morning, Jackson held a joint press conference with apparent nominee Michael Dukakis and his chosen running mate, Lloyd Bentsen, to announce Jackson's decision. They said it should help ensure unity as the convention begins Monday night.
Jackson was upset last week that Dukakis chose Bentsen as his running mate, and did not tell Jackson personally about the decision. Many speculated Jackson may try to wrest the nomination away from Bentsen in a floor fight.
Davis said that while Jackson's decision not to seek the vice presidency may lead to more unity, that unity may not be totally peaceful and quiet. "We still plan to fight for several platform planks."
Jackson forces, according to Davis, still plan to push for planks calling for no tax increases for the lower and middle classes, reductions in defense spending and improvement in other programs for the needy that Dukakis forces oppose.
Jackson said in his press conference Monday that his name will still be placed in nomination for president Wednesday. "I'm still hoping for a Chicago miracle. If that miracle does not come to pass, then I will go to the next aspect of my campaign."
Dukakis and Jackson said Jackson's role will be to expand the base of support for the Democratic Party and to include new groups that have been excluded politically in the past.
Dukakis said Jackson's role is important. "Great quarterbacks are not great quarterbacks unless they have a very good team around them," he said.
Besides the Jackson vice presidency flap, other events in Atlanta that set the stage for the convention included a clash Sunday between police and protesters, lavish delegate parties and a carefully scripted show for prime-time TV on Monday night.
The gavel dropped late Monday afternoon, followed by a series of minor reports. But show time really began after major TV networks started their live coverage at 7 p.m. Scheduled speakers included former President Jimmy Carter, National Party Chairman Paul G. Kirk Jr. and the keynote speaker, Texas State Treasurer Ann Richards.
Richards was praised by former Utah Gov. Scott Matheson, also a delegate to the convention. He knows her because she worked on a Democratic policy committee that he chaired two years ago. She was in charge of developing policy relating to families.
"I'm proud to say a lot of what we came up with on that committee is in the platform," Matheson said. "She (Richards) is an outstanding elected official, and I'm happy she's the keynoter."
She was aiming to give the convention a lighter tone - because she is known for a quick-draw wit and a distinctive Texas twang. An example of her sense of humor is a sign on her refrigerator at home: "A woman should be obscene and not heard."
Also at the Democrat's big show Monday night was popular entertainer Garrison Keillor, former host of "A Prairie Home Companion."
He was busy _ singing the national anthem, giving the Pledge of Allegiance along with a group of first-graders, and reading letters from children about what they would do if they were president.
In a much more serious note, downtown Atlanta streets looked at first glance Sunday afternoon like a repeat of the infamous violence at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
Just blocks from the Omni arena, helmeted police carrying shields and night sticks clashed with protesters upset that white supremacist groups planned a parade.
No injuries were reported as police pushed to separate the groups, but police canceled further demonstrations by both supremacist and anti-supremacist groups.
After the clash, lines of police wearing riot gear stood guard between areas set aside for public protests of all types at the Omni and adjacent World Congress Center.
Most of the convention's 4,162 delegates were far away from the center when the clashes occurred. Most were preparing for the 50 receptions that each delegation was treated to by the host committee.
About 200 more parties are scheduled during the week. Organizers say a celebration party after Dukakis' nomination Wednesday will have "light refreshments," including 670 cases of champagne, 8,000 soft drinks and 200 gallons of coffee.
The convention is costing the Democratic Party, Atlanta and U.S. taxpayers millions.
U.S. taxpayers provide $9.2 million of the costs under federal election laws. Atlanta kicked in $15 million worth of services in hopes of getting $60 million or more in return. And the party has asked for donations from some of its big givers to help defray costs.