Washington Post Election Coverage 1988
House Majority Leader Jackson Clay pictured on Tonight Show with Johnny Carson (NBC)
Jackson Clay Chosen as White's Running Mate
(Indianpolis) - In a move that surprised analysts, presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee John White chose House Majority Leader Jackson Clay as his running mate in the 1988 election.
The selection comes just a short week after John White was named presumptive nominee, even after losing California and various other states to Congressman Seymour Douglas, with the help of delegates from both Congressman Ari Goodman and House Majority Whip Thomas Blackstone. Various analysts predicted that Blackstone or Goodman were likely in consideration for the role of second on the ticket, however those rumors were quickly stamped out when White introduced Clay as his choice for Veep. The choice surprised many analysts due to Clay being one of the first to endorse in the Democratic primary, and he endorsed White's opponent, Douglas Seymour. In his endorsement of Seymour, Clay said he was "the right guy at the right time' and said his opponents 'were taking liberal stances on social issues." In the introduction of Clay, neither White nor Clay himself opted to address this. Instead, White focused on Clay's leadership on the economy and his experience growing up in the midwest. "Representative Clay understands the concerns of communities, just like Dayton, and all across our nation," White emphasized in his statement.
The choice of Clay is certainly a contrast to White, who is from Florida. From Indiana, Clay has been proactive as House Majority Leader, being a prime proponent of the 'Real Right to Work Act' and he avidly supported Seymour for his positions on social issues, such as the Defense of Marriage Act. This is where Clay and White likely differ and likely part of the reason White chose Clay. "Seymour is from Indiana, he can relate to midwestern voters, he can relate better to white voters that White is unable to relate to," Democratic pollster Anna Fitzpatrick said, "this was a smart choice to shore up Seymour supporters." Indeed, Clay was a fixture on the campaign for Seymour already, providing him a bit of name recognition. But it will likely be necessary for the House Majority Leader to explain why he now thinks White is the right guy at the right time.
Larry Jones, a former Thomas Blackstone campaign aide, called the choice "strange, considering the barrage of folks who supported White originally." On the other hand, Jones admitted Clay "could potentially appeal to voters White otherwise wouldn't be able to." Blackstone, who is directly under Clay in House leadership, was reportedly seen as too close to White in ideology to seriously be considered for the position despite being one of the prime reasons White will go into the convention as the presumptive Democratic nominee.
1988 Democratic Convention Analysis, A Column
Brian O'Rourke is an opinion columnist, former Michigan Democratic Party Chairman, and former DCCC member.
Day One Packaged Analysis
The Democratic National Convention kicked off day one from the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh with Chairman of the Convention, Andrew Landingham, an upcoming Congressman from Ohio tasked with being the first to greet the cameras. Laningham laid out a speech which hit on themes of an 'us vs. them' mentality. Landingham noted that the Reagan administration was beholden to special interests, claiming the American people had been left behind by the President and Republicans. The speech did well to hit on some essential themes that would end up being echoed throughout the night. But it did paint quite a bleak picture. The economy has certainly been adversely effected by Black Monday and proceeding events and that could've been talked about a little more in-depth for context. But, Democrats do generally agree with the failures of Reagan when it comes to backing up the working class -- specifically unionized workers -- so the speech was effective for the crowd it was in front of. Maybe not so much for some undecided independent voters siting and watching at home.
We shifted gears to Jesse Jackson delivering a speech endorsing John White. A wise choice by Democrats to have Jackson's representation at the convention.
House Majority Whip Thomas Blackstone delivered a speech on education. Blackstone made it clear the approach to education would be different under a White administration, attacking the President for 'dismantling education funding.' From what I'm seeing so far, we've heard more about the failures of President Reagan than we've seen true contrasts between White and Kaine, which would undoubtedly be a more effective strategy. The speech was fine, nonetheless, and did provide some policies -- expansion of pell grants, head start programs -- but the speech generally seemed more focused on contrasting White with a popular outgoing President rather than his opponent in the general election.
Senator Ted Kennedy delivered a spectacular speech on healthcare. The Senator's presence was yet another member of what one might consider the 'liberal' wing of the Democratic Party.
We turned our attention to Congressman Ari Goodman, the first individual to drop out of the Presidential race and one of John White's first endorsements. Goodman once again put focus on the economy and working-class families. Goodman touched on the relevant 'Real Right to Work Act', which has become increasingly more well-known after Democrats have used it as a talking point against Anderson Kaine. Goodman also finally mentioned Kaine himself, with the words 'Anderson Kaine ain't your friend!' Goodman's attacks resonated, especially noting Kaine's apparent vote against the Department of Veteran Affairs. Overall, Goodman's speech seemed to serve the purpose of contrasting Kaine and White's policy ideas when it comes to various issues (farmers, veterans, empathy) and it was an effective speech in that regard -- more effective than any proceeding it so far tonight.
At the end of the night, Congresswoman Elizabeth Callaghan delivered the keynote address of the convention. Callaghan opened her speech with more attacks on the Reagan administration and did provide some specific examples of failures which got the crowd fired up. She contrasted this directly with Kaine, who she said would continue the tax policies of Regan and hit once again on the theme that Reagan was beholden to special interests. Callaghan did something that was much needed and that was provide a positive outlook based on Democratic policies. While Democrats in Congress are trying to emphasize their accomplishments, it is hard to balance that by saying the working class has been completely left behind and nothing has been done. Callaghan accomplished that. This was a good keynote address overall but the entire night was quite negative. Goodman's attacks might've been better to let stew and Callaghan just sticking to the positive outlook and laying out the White/Clay ticket would've been a better strategy.
Night One Summary
Overall Grade: 7/10
Speech of the night: Ari Goodman
Line of the night: "Anderson Kaine ain't your friend!" - Ari Goodman
Day Two Packaged Analysis
Day two of the Democratic National Convention kicked off with the vote confirming Congressman Jackson Clay as the Vice Presidential nominee. The choice of Clay is interesting, as we noted in our most recent profile on the pick.
Congressman Judson Maddox, also candidate for the Mississippi Senate Election which he was quick to mention, gave the first speech of day two. Maddox delivered a speech touching on the state of affairs for veterans in America, calling it a 'travesty.' This speech was a good start to day two as it laid out a specific achievement of the Democratic Congress and essentially attempted to give that victory to John White by declaring he would continue that kind of policy attention for American veterans.
Another Senate candidate delivered a speech after Maddox, Congressman Mickey Kaline. The Congressman gave a speech which received mixed reviews. On the one hand, most agreed the first part of his speech was 'brilliantly written.' But the speech left what seemed to be an optimistic turn and instead attacked President Reagan for Iran-Contra, failure to respond to South African apartheid, and more. As one person noted, 'the structure of the speech seemed to set up an optimistic vision but it turned into an attack ad.' The message of positivity toward John White was lost in the shuffle, as many focused on the continuing negativity from day one -- specifically against the Reagan administration and Republicans in general, rather than trying to define Anderson Kaine.
Senator Sam Nunn gave a speech providing John White credibility on foreign policy issues, especially the most prevalent one, the Soviet Union. A speech specifically addressing this issue was certainly needed tonight.
Following the speech of Nunn, Speaker of the House Al Baudin delivered a speech which opened with attacks on President Reagan. At this point, strategists were shaking their heads. It does fire up Democrats to attack the President, it does fire up party activists, but doing it for two days straight on every single issue is both repetitive and doesn't serve well in doing anything to define Anderson Kaine, a tactic that would at least make sense for going so negative. If the entire idea is to say Kaine is just like Reagan, Democrats are going to want to find a new message. The policies Baudin spoke about later in his speech did receive some acclaim, but the overall structure of the speech -- Reagan is bad, here is why John White is better -- has been a constant so far throughout the convention. You'd think, after being defeated in the last two elections, Democrats would be eager for a new fight. Apparently not. Critics said Baudin could've been utilized much more effectively.
At the end of the night, Congressman Jackson Clay delivered his acceptance speech for the nomination of Vice President. Clay opened his speech by saying he was prepared to 'clean up the mess' left by President Ronald Reagan along with John White. Clay went on to attack Reagan more, saying he'd failed and wasted Democrats' efforts in Congress, noting the selection of Kaine and Saroyan would only continue that kind of governance. One thing which was effective was go into further detail on how exactly John White would handle the Cold War. Seeming well versed in the issue, this was perhaps the highlight of Clay's speech, noting specific policies White would invoke in order to end the Cold War. The attacks on Kaine were also good, however yet again, contrasting him to Reagan needs to be done better. Clay attacked Kaine specifically on his economic policies, but overall, the attacks just weren't constructed as well as previous ones -- specifically, those lined up by Goodman and Callaghan the day prior. The speech was good overall and Seymour supporters especially are happy to see Clay on the ticket.
Night Two Summary
Overall Grade: 6.5/10
Speech of the night: Jackson Clay
Line of the night: "Anderson Kaine will put his finger up, find out which way the wind blows, and then tell you what you want to hear." - Jackson Clay
Day Three Packaged Analysis
Day three opens and we see the vote of White as the Democratic nominee for President. Seymour delivered the final call for White to be nominated unanimously, and it was so ordered. A good visual for unity.
The first speaker of day one was Montana Senate candidate, Congressman Benjamin Clay, cousin of Vice Presidential nominee Jackson Clay. Clay laid out an argument for himself and John White on the issue of relating to values held by the Democratic Party. The speech devolved into a discussion of economics and tax cuts, however, with Clay noting that Reagan gave his wealthy donors big tax breaks among other things. The positive of this is that Clay has reemphasized certain policies (Pell Grant extensions, tax relief for the middle class, etc.) that were indeed mentioned in previous speeches. The speech -- and day three, really -- could've done without opening with more negative contrasts to Republicans and President Reagan. An uplifting speech emphasizing the true values of the Democratic Party, whether it be reaffirming the fight against civil rights, reproductive rights, or the Equal Rights Amendment -- these are all things which have been missing besides maybe Jesse Jackson. This was prime real estate for these issues to be touched upon when mentioning 'Democratic Party values' and what the 'New Path Forward' would encompass.
California State Controller Richard Bauer gave the next speech. The message on Social Security was good here. Despite continuing the attacks from the previous night, it hit some right notes. Noting that the GOP was advocating for the protection of Social Security, noting that they'd previously used it as a ploy to say that government spending must be cut. The speech was rather short but it did provide an effective message to older voters, especially those who rely on social security, which does include independent voters. This is one of the best speeches I saw which might serve to move the needle of undecided voters watching the conventions at home, making their choice.
Following that, we saw Evan Bayh -- gubernatorial candidate in Indiana -- on the stage. Bayh spoke to rural America, a man well suited for the job. This was a good choice to feature Bayh.
To introduce the Democratic Presidential nominee, Congressman Douglas Seymour was chosen for the role. I believe the choice of Seymour was excellent, if not completely necessary. The Seymour supporters in the crowd came out strong and made their voices heard, applauding him for several minutes. There was some notable upset volunteers in the South Carolina delegation, moved by the sight of Seymour addressing the convention. The speech was by far the best delivered in terms of accomplishing something for the White/Clay ticket. Seymour praised White throughout his speech as an exceptional leader and also effectively laid out the message of a 'New Path Forward', a callback to Seymour's 'New Promise' on the campaign trail. This speech was certainly needed after three days of prolonged attacks on the Reagan administration as it was clearly designed to cement Seymour's support of White for the Presidency.
Finally, to cap off the convention, Congressman John White delivered his acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention in Pittsburgh. White's speech, definitely fittingly, did best to define what 'A New Path Forward' meant for the country under his potential administration. White painted the Reagan administration as one that divided America into subsections of rich and poor. White further noted that the Republican Party had promoted the rich and done their bidding and he would shift focus to working class America as President. White laid out mandatory paid medical leave, including maternity leave, as part of his plan to help families. White further promised to continue fighting for unions, promising to fight outsourcing. White connected well with unionized workers in his speech and did well throughout the primary in midwestern states and this speech touched on that. White's overall theme -- 'rejecting rejection', 'standing together', 'moving forward as one' -- really did well in summing up the message of unity that Seymour had laid down for him in his introduction speech. Whether this was intentional or not, it was well capitalized on, and certainly made this the best convention night.
Night One Summary
Overall Grade: 8/10
Speech of the night: John White
Line of the night: "Tonight, we not only reject trickle-down economics, but we reject the continued politics of hate, fear and separation and turn towards unity, hope and change." - John White
Ari Goodman laid out an effective attack on Kaine on day one.
Callaghan followed up with another good blue-print on what defining Kaine might look like in the general election.
Clay acceptance speech was most effective on foreign policy in the convention.
Bauer speech connected with older voters.
Seymour's speech was perhaps one of the best out of the convention for White.
Far too negative during all three days. Goodman's attacks were most effective but they would've been more effective if the attacks weren't so incessant.
Far too much focus on Reagan legacy.
Iran-Contra was mentioned several times, despite Democrats being seen to have botched the Congressional investigation.
White speech could've done more to attract undecided independents.
1988 Republican Convention Analysis, A Column
Lindsay Jalinksi is an opinion columnist, former pollster, and former George H.W. Bush aide.
Day One Packaged Analysis
The Republican National Convention came live from the jam-packed Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. The convention began with a short prayer, and while standard, it was fitting for their nominee -- a Reverend. The theme of the night is 'Building the American Economy.'
The first speaker of the RNC Convention was Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Michael J. Anderson, also the Senate candidate in the state of Mississippi. We immediately see Anderson bring up the Carter legacy in his speech, warning Democrats want to bring back that legacy. Anderson didn't mention any of the recent news on the economy, instead focusing on strong economic indicators across the past eight years. The speech felt a tad vapid in terms of possible attacks on the Democrats. It really didn't do much to sell the case for Anderson Kaine, either.
We see a video dedicated to the Reagan legacy on farms. This is to emphasize Kaine's relationship with farmers and those who work on family farms across the United States. Rural voters have been a key demographic his campaign has targeted, so this is no surprise.
President Ronald Reagan gave a speech on what he did to improve the economy and strongly endorsed Kaine's capability.
We see another video, this time one dedicated to Republicans achievements for the middle-class. The video was fine and did well to remind everyone of what the theme of the night was.
The night was closed out with House Minority Leader Kyle Fitzgerald delivering the keynote address. Interesting that Fitzgerald is closing the night with the keynote address on the economy, due to Kaine and Fitzgerald's big disagreement on trade policy that was a huge part of the primary. No surprise, Fitzgerald did not mention those policies. Instead, he focused his speech on tax cuts. Fitzgerald spent a large chunk of his speech rehashing the accomplishments of Ronald Reagan in cutting American's taxes and then said that Anderson Kaine would continue by cutting those taxes even further. The speech, frankly, was uninspired. Especially for a keynote address. It was lacking a certain advocacy for Kaine's nomination that many would've hoped from Fitzgerald, such as what Seymour accomplished for White.
Night One Summary
Overall Grade: 5.5/10
Speech of the night: Kyle Fitzgerald
Line of the night: "I’m supporting Anderson Kaine because he will continue the pro-growth, tax-cutting policies that I have passionately advocated for during the Reagan Administration." - Kyle Fitzgerald
Day Two Packaged Analysis
Day two begins with RNC Chairman Ralph Barrett delivering a speech laying out Kaine's plan to challenge the Soviet Union. This speech was good as it did lay out some specific things Kaine has promised to do as President to end the Cold War. Barrett laid out the accomplishments of Reagan but didn't end there, going on to specify what Kaine would do as President to continue that legacy. This is more effective now on foreign policy than it was in day two on the economy. The speech was fine overall, perhaps the best so far in the convention.
California Senate candidate and Congressman Jack Swanner then shifted to illegal immigration. The short speech warned of a possible 'new wave' of illegal immigrants taking advantage of a possible desire for amnesty, similar to what was provided by President Ronald Reagan, calling it 'Reagan's Amnesty.' The verbiage was interesting. The speech was short and to the point, trying to make Kaine look tough on immigration.
Vice President George H. W. Bush delivered an effective speech on foreign policy and personal experience with Saroyan, introducing the Vice Presidential nominee.
The Republican Vice Presidential nominee, Congressman Abe Saroyan, then took the stage to deliver his acceptance speech. The speech was topical and Saroyan did a good job of reintroducing himself to the American people. Saroyan focused early on where he is seen as strongest, which is foreign policy. Saroyan gave perhaps the most in-depth and relevant foreign policy speech out of any of the conventions, going in depth on China and the Soviet Union. This was a good speech and it especially highlights the true contrast between Saroyan and Kaine. Saroyan can be trusted to target a different type of Republican than Kaine can. When compared to Clay's speech, Saroyan was much more focused on introducing and defining Kaine rather than trying to define White or provide any focus on the Democrats. The strategies are sharply different and that has been showcased throughout the convention but was especially seen with this speech.
Night One Summary
Overall Grade: 7/10
Speech of the night: Abe Saroyan
Line of the night: "Commander-in-Chief, Head of State, the most Powerful Man in the Free World, however you want to phrase the position of our Chief Executive, to me there is no man more ready for the grand responsibilities than my friend, partner, and running mate Anderson Kaine." - Abe Saroyan
Day Three Packaged Analysis
Day three begins with yet another Senate candidate, Congressman Christopher Reed. The theme of the night is 'America's Values.' Reed criticized a 'secular agenda' which puts America's heritage at risk. The mention of pro-life, Christian values was something Democrats lacked completely. Not those specific policies, but addressing the true 'values' of the party and social issues in general. Reed tackled them head on to set up the theme for the night.
Chairwoman and CEO of Eagle Forum Phyllis Shlafly then delivered a speech on traditional values, emphasizing DOMA as part of that.
Following that, we saw Congressman Hector Lorraine-Montbatten deliver quite a long winded speech which shifted from topic to topic. Montbatten speech was tantamount to a Reverend's sermon in Church on the importance of one's family. The speech at least related to evangelicals strongly, but that isn't exactly something Kaine needs tremendous help with. Overall the speech was received as quite long and drawn out with lots of superlatives.
There's a transition to a video which lists the various values of the Republican Party and Anderson Kaine with representations of real people. A good video.
Governor Jim Thompson of Illinois rails against corruption and emphasizes the strong ethics record of Kaine in his speech.
The man who helped put Kaine in the position as the presumptive nominee, Congressman Michael Marshall, introduced his former opponent to the convention which put him in a similar position to Congressman Douglas Seymour on the Democratic side. For an introduction speech, Marshall mainly focused on the issue of abortion and how Kaine will combat things such as late-term abortion. This speech could've really been standard fare of the night. It seems, if anything, the speech unified evangelicals further behind Anderson Kaine. But that's about it. This spot would've been better reserved for Kyle Fitzgerald, although even the Marshall speech wasn't especially worthy of keynote consideration.
It was Congressman Anderson Kaine, sporting a new haircut, who then delivered his speech accepting the nomination for President at the Republican National Convention in New Orleans. Kaine introduced himself to America and brought forward his vision of bringing back America's 'moral greatness.' Kaine's speech throughout had significant religious undertones. In his speech, Kaine essentially promised to appoint pro-life judges as President. While some predicted Kaine would try and moderate in this speech and recenter himself as more center-right, he has doubled-down on his primary campaigning for the general election and rehashed abortion and the Judges issue for the third time of the night Kaine really didn't expand his appeal much in his convention speech beyond the base he has already created in the Republican primary contests. But he did do well in rallying his base of Republicans, rallying his evangelical supporters, and vowing to continue the economic legacy of Reagan. He didn't do well to reassure former Fitzgerald supporters or those who might be undecided on him, leaning -- or perhaps even depending -- on his running mate to do that job.
Night One Summary
Overall Grade: 7/10
Speech of the night: Anderson Kaine
Line of the night: "My campaign promise is simple: we can do more, and as your President I will." - Anderson Kaine
Republicans came off better on foreign policy, specifically in response to the recent news from China -- largely thanks to Saroyan.
The strong mention of Republican values and what encompasses those values has given leg up to the GOP on this issue as it looks like Dems are trying to ignore them entirely.
Saroyan speech did well to provide a basis around the candidacy of Kaine on Cold War strategy.
Kaine speech was certainly a successful rallying cry for religious Republicans and independents to unite behind his candidacy and turn out to vote for him.
Quality of speeches were lacking, specifically the key-note address. There seemed to be a dry delivery of policy.
Day One was not a good introduction to the convention, some shifting might've been preferable there.
Kaine had done well with evangelicals. Perhaps Catholics could also resonate with his acceptance speech, but not enough time was spent on connecting to more white upperclass suburbanites who might have voted for Seymour and might not be comfortable with White. That wasn't really taken into account, it seems.