Michael Dukakis begins an expanded effort this week to win over the black voters he largely ignored in the primaries and who have yet to respond in any big way to an endorsement by Jesse Jackson.
The Democratic presidential nominee travels to Detroit Monday night to address an Urban League convention and, according to an aide, his campaign this week will begin distributing literature highlighting his gubernatorial record on issues such as affirmative action and judicial appointments."Michael Dukakis is not a known quantity to black Americans, but this should help change that," said Donna Brazile, the Dukakis campaign's deputy national field director.
Dukakis also plans to invest in black media advertising and will schedule campaign events in inner city neighborhoods and other predominantly black areas, Bra-zile said. He rarely ventured into black communities during the primaries and still draws relatively few blacks to campaign events.
Brazile and other top Dukakis advisers conceded in interviews during last week's seven-state campaign trip that Jackson's endorsement of Dukakis at the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta has yet to translate into visible support for Dukakis among blacks.
One assessment of Dukakis' problem came from Sam Riddle, field director for Jackson's winning effort in the Michigan caucuses.
"All you got in Atlanta was that Jesse got a little prime time, a credit card and an airplane," he said. "Black America is still not sure what's in it for them, and until that gap is bridged I don't think you'll see them being too enthusiastic about Dukakis."
Dukakis and his staff are trying to erase such sentiments. In Newark, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Louisville, Ky., Raleigh, N.C., and here in Flint last week, he met with Jackson backers, all of whom, according to Dukakis aides, pledged their support.
"We'll get to his people, at the grass-roots level, but you can't go to the people without first coming together with the leadership," said Boston attorney Fletcher Wiley, a senior Dukakis adviser.
Complicating Dukakis' outreach efforts, aides concede, is Jackson's still unclear role in the fall campaign and uneasiness among senior Dukakis advisers over the outspoken Jackson.
Dukakis moved quickly to distance himself from Jackson's effort to get involved in talks to free American hostages being held by pro-Iranian groups in Lebanon but was careful not to criticize Jackson himself.
"He's an American citizen," Dukakis said. "We agree on a lot of things and we don't agree on some things."
Paul Brountas, the Dukakis campaign chairman and its chief liaison with Jackson, said he expected Jackson to campaign with Dukakis soon but said no schedule has been made.