- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 18, 2008

Former Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis said Friday that it was “pretty pathetic” of Sen. John McCain to choose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate and questioned the Republican candidate’s use of a Karl Rove protege to run his campaign.

In an online chat with The Washington Times, Mr. Dukakis, former Massachusetts governor and now a professor at Northeastern University, said that’s just one sign Mr. McCain has changed for the worse since his failed 2000 presidential campaign.

“His selection of Sarah Palin as a running mate was, I thought, pretty pathetic. I made a lot of mistakes in 1988, but one of the things I did right was to select Lloyd Bentsen as my running mate,” Mr. Dukakis said. “The first and most important criterion for that selection was whether or not my running mate was ready to be president if, God forbid, something happened to me. Joe Biden clearly meets that test. Palin does not.”

Mr. Dukakis surrendered a substantial lead in the polls to lose the 1988 election to Vice President George H.W. Bush.

He said his biggest mistakes were not responding to Republican attacks and failing to put together a general election operation to organize and turn out voters.

“Fortunately, [Sen. Barack] Obama understands that, too, and he has put together one of the best grass-roots operations we have ever seen in nearly two dozen battleground states. In fact, if there is anything that has given him momentum, in addition to his own performance on the campaign trail, it has been his field organization, and I believe it will be decisive on November 4. McCain, by contrast, has virtually no field operation, and it shows,” he said.

Mr. Dukakis said he doesn’t see the McCain who denounced President Bush’s tax cuts “for the rich” and called for a “responsible approach to immigration.”

“I don’t know if it is because he is getting older and this is his last shot at the presidency, but I don’t think the John McCain of old would have hired a Karl Rove protege to run his campaign,” he said.