Michael Dukakis, conceding Friday he had hoped to be "here in another capacity," made his first trip to Washington since losing the election, visiting Democratic leaders and then meeting with President-elect George Bush.
The Massachusetts governor met separately with House Speaker Jim Wright of Texas and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell of Maine.Wright said the Democratic Party was proud of Dukakis. "He fought a good fight," the speaker said. "He's young. He's vigorous. He has a lot to offer the country. His future is not behind him, it is ahead of him."
Mitchell referred to Dukakis as "a national leader of our party." Asked if he considered himself the party's national leader, Dukakis smiled and said, "We have a good, strong Democratic Party with lots of leaders."
During his meeting with Bush, he said, he planned to raise most of the issues that he spoke about during the campaign: education, environment, child care, good health care.
"These are the things we believe in very strongly," he said. Dukakis dodged a question about whether he would run for national office again, saying only that he was busy catching up on gubernatorial duties.
He was met with Massachusetts Sens. Edward Kennedy and John Kerry and then lunched with Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, the No. 2 man on the Democratic ticket.