Michael Dukakis Wednesday celebrated a resounding New York victory that put him on a fast track toward the Democratic presidential nomination and a fall showdown with Republican George Bush. Jesse Jackson praised Dukakis for steering clear of attacks in the bitterly divisive primary, saying, "Good for him and good for America."
Jackson, second in the primary, singled out New York Mayor Edward Koch for blame in a campaign in which Jackson said "people were driven into hysteria" by negative campaigning against him. But he said that Dukakis "resisted the temptation to take the campaign to the gutter."The third Democratic challenger, Sen. Albert Gore Jr., was ready to fold his campaign to leave Dukakis and Jackson to duel head-to-head over the final six primary weeks.
Dukakis, in interviews on NBC-TV and ABC-TV, said, "I want to be a unifier. . . . I think we can put it back together. I'm somebody who hates the politics of division."
Dukakis won 51 percent of the New York vote, Jackson 37 percent and Gore 10 percent.
"The Democratic Party's going to be unified, and we're going to stop George Bush this November," Gore said, sounding a unity theme that must have been music to Dukakis' ears after two months of rough-and-tumble campaigning.
Gore was expected to halt his campaign on Thursday. He had staked everything in New York with an expensive television campaign and a sometimes barb-tongued effort to pose himself as an alternative to Dukakis and Jackson.
Dukakis ended up handily winning the ethnic white vote, both Jewish and Catholic. Jackson had more than 95 percent of the black vote and enjoyed a narrow, 411,903 to 405,486 victory over Dukakis in the precincts of New York City. Networks said the black vote made up 22 to 27 percent of the 1.5 million statewide Democratic vote.
Victory brought Dukakis 164 of New York's 255 delegates. He now has just over half the 2,081 national delegates he needs to clinch the nomination. Jackson had 89 to bring his total to 834.
Vice President George Bush continued his roll toward the GOP nomination and declared Dukakis "a good bet" to be his Democratic opponent in the fall. He said he looked forward to the competition, and Dukakis gave him a taste of the battle to come during a Philadelphia appearance Tuesday evening.
"This fall George Bush is going to be judged by a legacy of . . . pink slips for our workers, golden parachutes for high rollers and greenmail for sharp operators on Wall Street," said the Massachusetts governor.
"I want to make that American dream come alive again, not only in Trump Towers, not only in fancy apartments all over this country, not only in a few privileged neighborhoods."
Dukakis flew from Philadelphia to a New York victory rally within walking distance of Trump Tower, where he told cheering supporters, "I love New York. Friends, if we can make it here we can make it anywhere."
Gore met with Jackson after midnight Tuesday. Jackson aides described the meeting as a "courtesy call." Earlier, when Jackson was asked if he might get the senator's support, he replied, "I don't know what he is going to do. But I do respect him very much."
With 99 percent of the precincts reporting, the vote looked this way:
Dukakis had 783,568 or 51 percent. Jackson had 573,112 or 37 percent. Gore had 156,052 or 10 percent.
For the two Democratic survivors, the next battleground is Pennsylvania next Tuesday, a state where Dukakis was assured of winning a major share of the 178 delegates.