Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis almost visited Salt Lake City Thursday. He canceled at the last second, leaving the press and local Democratic officials to wonder, "where was Duke?"

His Presidential Airways Boeing 737 was scheduled to stop at Salt Lake International Airport at 3 p.m. for a half-hour to refuel and pick up dinner. The press and local Democratic leaders didn't find out about it until 2:30 p.m., and scrambled to the Hudson General terminal to meet him.But they arrived just in time to find out that Dukakis had canceled the stop at the last minute, and decided instead to fly directly from Yellowstone National Park to Los Angeles.

Hudson General employee Lesley Bell said the Dukakis campaign changed its mind several times about stopping in Utah.

"They didn't decide to come until yesterday. Then they called back today and canceled. Then they called back and said their stop was on again because changing the schedule would foul up the Secret Service at both ends. Then they called back again and said it was canceled anyway because that was what the boss wanted."

Skipping the Utah stop may have cost Dukakis his dinner, however. Bell said his campaign had ordered stuffed chicken breast, fettuccine, salad, rolls and cheesecake - but the food was canceled when he flew on by.

Utah Dukakis Campaign Chairman Patrick Shea said Dukakis - who visited Utah in June - likely won't be coming back to Utah this year, but added, "I still believe in Santa Claus, and something may happen."

He said, "If we get Dukakis or Lloyd Bentsen back this year, it will probably be just on a stop-over."