Democratic bargaining over platform
Mackinac Island, Mich.
The forces of Michael Dukakis and Jesse Jackson are still miles apart on taxes, defense, and many foreign policy issues. But a preliminary platform-drafting session ended with the Rev. Mr. Jackson getting one wish: that the Democrats brand South Africa a terrorist state. The platform writers boarded this island's horse-drawn taxis and headed home Sunday after three days of deliberations that produced working papers on health, education, civil rights, and other issues.
The papers on defense and foreign policy have yet to be written.
The papers were prepared by the committee's staff, working with representatives of Mr. Dukakis and Jackson.
The 16-member drafting committee left without casting any votes but will meet again sometime before the full 186-member Platform Committee convenes in Denver June 25-26.
The Jackson forces encountered little opposition on the South Africa issue, although earlier in the campaign, Dukakis balked when Jackson tried to extract such a pledge from him. Branding South Africa a terrorist state would have a range of implications under United States export and trade laws.
``We have no problem declaring South Africa a terrorist state, but let's go beyond that,'' said Rep. Robert Matsui, a Dukakis backer from California.
The Massachusetts governor, the certain nominee, favors passage of the tough sanctions in a bill that could put the apartheid regime in Johannesburg on the same US list of terrorist states as Libya and Iran.
But the delegates parted company on another bedrock issue for the Jackson campaign: whether to freeze Pentagon spending. Jackson favors such a freeze, whereas Dukakis indicates that he wants to preserve flexibility in defense spending.
The Democrats' working papers call for appointment of a federal drug ``czar,'' an Equal Rights Amendment, ending homelessness, expanding AIDS research, and providing advance notice of plant closings. Without using the word abortion, the civil rights paper calls for ``freedom of reproductive choice ... regardless of ability to pay.''
``I found more areas of agreement than disagreement,'' said Rep. William Gray III of Pennsylvania, the drafting panel chairman.
Those who hoped for divisive bloodletting ``will find the floor is clean,'' said Eleanor Holmes Norton, Jackson's platform chief. She predicted it will be easier to reach an accord on defense than on taxes.
Robert Borosage, a senior Jackson adviser, said the Jackson camp will be insistent on its demand to further tax the rich and freeze defense spending.
``We've got agreements with Dukakis on commitments for a whole range of domestic programs, but where's the money going to come from?'' he said.
Former US Rep. Michael Barnes of Maryland, the Dukakis platform team leader, was asked if the Dukakis campaign would relish an opportunity at the Atlanta convention to reject a minority plank favoring a tax hike.
``We're not seeking floor fights,'' he said, adding that Jackson has enough delegates ``to take anything he wishes to the convention.''