A son of once-poor Greek immigrants and a grandson of poor Danish transplants accepted the Democratic nomination for president and vice president, respectively, Thursday night saying they are manifestations of the American dream.
Michael Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen said they want to keep that dream alive - but want to end what they say has been an eight-year nightmare of Republican rule they say brought economic reverses and scandals that ruined national integrity.Dukakis finally appeared at the Democratic National Convention Thursday night to accept his nomination and deliver an address that likely made his first impression - for good or bad - on millions of Americans watching television.
He told them, "We're going to win because we are the party that believes in the American dream. A dream so powerful that no distance of ground, no expanse of ocean, no barrier of language, no distinction of race or creed or color can weaken its hold on the human heart. I know because I am a product of that dream."
Few expected Dukakis to match the emotion of Jesse Jackson's Tuesday speech - but, surprisingly, if he did not, he came close and managed to outline stands on dozens of issues.
Close-up TV pictures showed what may not have been apparent to those in the crowd: Dukakis, a man known for his personal control, came close to tears twice. As the crowd first welcomed him, his eyes welled. He blinked back the tears. After his well-received speech, as his wife, Kitty, kissed him and said how proud she was of him, his eyes again filled. When he spoke of his deceased father, and how proud he would have been of his son Thursday night, his voice cracked.
Those weren't staged actions but spontaneous responses to an overwhelming evening. The rest of the night was carefully planned, however, with the help of several Hollywood producers.
Dukakis whipped the crowd into a frenzy with several unusual maneuvers.
That included having Boston Pops Conductor John Williams compose a new fanfare for his introduction, which was conducted by Dukakis' father-in-law. Then Dukakis' Oscar-winning cousin, Olympia Dukakis, appeared to riotous cheers to introduce him.
Instead of going to the podium through the backstage speakers' entrance, Dukakis walked up through the delegates shaking hands while a Neil Diamond song, "America," about immigrants coming to America, played and had delegates clapping hands and stomping feet.
After an eight-minute demonstration, Dukakis said, "As a son of immigrants . . . I accept your nomination for president of the United States."
Dukakis' speech was designed to project an image of an honest, competent leader who wants more economic opportunity for the common man.
"If anyone tells you the American dream belongs to the privileged few instead of all of us, you tell them the Reagan era is over, and a new era is about to begin. It is time to raise our sights."
He said, "This campaign is not about ideology, it's about competence. It's not about overthrowing countries in Central America, but creating jobs in middle America.
"It's time to rekindle the American spirit of invention and daring; to exchange voodoo economics for can-do economics; to build the best America by bringing out the best in every American.
"We're going to forge a new era of greatness in America."
He said he would do that by waging war on hunger, pollution, infant mortality, drugs and AIDS; by reclaiming the streets from violent crime; by providing basic health insurance for all Americans; ending apartheid; keeping military defense strong; and insisting on integrity among government officials.
He told people wanting to work in his administration that they must uphold public trust. "If you violate that trust, you'll be fired. If you violate laws, you'll be prosecuted. And if you sell arms to the ayatollah, don't expect a pardon from the president of the United States."
The speech had delegates frequently cheering, "Duke, Duke, Duke," "We like Mike," and "We will win."
Like Dukakis, Bentsen said he is a product of the American dream, telling how his grandparents came from Denmark to live in a modest sod hut in South Dakota but survived and prospered despite difficulties.
"That's the American dream we have nourished and protected for more than two centuries _ the dream of freedom and opportunity, the chance for a step up in life," Bentsen said.
Bentsen was nominated by acclamation instead of by a roll-call vote _ which upset some Utah delegates. They wanted a chance to give a flowery speech extolling the tourist opportunities in the state during the vote _ and a chance to show off new Utah Jazz stickers on the sign marking their floor position.
Bentsen spent much of his speech trying to point out beliefs he shares with Dukakis, in an apparent attempt to circumvent intra-party criticism from liberals that he is completely opposite from Dukakis on many key issues.
Examples of issues they disagree on include Contra aid, the MX missile, the death penalty, school prayer and the "Star Wars" defense system. Dukakis opposes them, and Bentsen favors them.
But Bentsen said, "We Democrats do not march in a lockstep behind some narrow, rigid ideology of indifference. . . . Of course, we have differences of opinion. But on the basic issues of justice and opportunity, we stand united."
Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, said Bentsen may help Dukakis win conservative states such as Utah. "Tags on him, such as `moderate' and `conservative,' can't do anything but help in Utah."
But former Gov. Scott Matheson said, "We still have to sell Dukakis in Utah. People vote for the president, not the vice president. We need to help people get to know him, and what he's about."
If that happens, Dukakis' Utah campaign chairman, Pat Shea, said Democrats in Utah have the first real chance to carry the state in the presidential race since 1964.