Michael Dukakis Tank Ride

January 22, 2012 by staff 

Michael Dukakis Tank Ride, Michael Stanley Dukakis ( born November 3, 1933) served as the 65th and 67th Governor of Massachusetts from 1975-1979 and from 1983-1991, and was the Democratic presidential nominee in 1988. He was born to Greek immigrants in Brookline, Massachusetts, also the birthplace of John F. Kennedy, and was the longest serving governor in Massachusetts history. He was the second Greek American governor in U.S. history after Spiro Agnew.

Dukakis was criticized during the campaign for a perceived softness on defense issues, particularly the controversial “Star Wars” SDI program, which he promised to weaken (although not cancel). In response to this, Dukakis orchestrated what would become the key image of his campaign, although it turned out quite differently from what he intended. On September 13, 1988 Dukakis visited the General Dynamics Land Systems plant at 38500 Mound Road in Sterling Heights, Michigan to take part in a photo op in an M1 Abrams tank. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher, had been photographed in a similar situation in 1986, riding in a Challenger tank while wearing a scarf; although somewhat out of character, the image was effective and helped Thatcher’s reelection prospects. Dukakis’s “tank moment” was much less successful, however. Footage of Dukakis was used in television ads by the Bush campaign, as evidence that Dukakis would not make a good commander-in-chief, and “Dukakis in the tank” remains shorthand for backfired public relations outings. Although he served in the United States Army, Dukakis was widely mocked by his opponents for what they characterized as martial posturing and a silly image.

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