The Vice Presidential Prospects of Jesse Jackson Examined

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NBC Today Show
Bryant Gumbel/Ken Bode
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NBCUniversal Media, LLC.
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Why is Jesse Jackson still campaigning for president in 1988, after Michael Dukakis has won the nomination? NBC News political correspondent Ken Bode takes a look at Jackson's continued run and considers whether he may be positioning himself for a vice presidential nomination.



"The Vice Presidential Prospects of Jesse Jackson Examined." Ken Bode, correspondent. NBC Today Show. NBCUniversal Media. 20 June 1988. NBC Learn. Web. 12 January 2020.


Bode, K. (Reporter), & Gumbel, B. (Anchor). (1988, June 20). The Vice Presidential Prospects of Jesse Jackson Examined. [Television series episode]. NBC Today Show. Retrieved from


"The Vice Presidential Prospects of Jesse Jackson Examined" NBC Today Show, New York, NY: NBC Universal, 06/20/1988. Accessed Sun Jan 12 2020 from NBC Learn:


The Vice Presidential Prospects of Jesse Jackson Examined


After war there is often someone on the losing side who doesn’t want to surrender. In 'Bode’s Journal' this morning, our national political correspondent Ken Bode explains why the Reverend Jesse Jackson is still fighting the presidential war of 1988.

KEN BODE, reporting:

Good morning. All the other candidates have endorsed Governor Michael Dukakis and bought tickets on the unity train to the Democrat convention in Atlanta next month. Jesse Jackson says the others have surrendered but that he has not. The question is why?

After the last primaries, Jackson never stopped campaigning. In Washington he put a Jackson button on conservative Republican Senator Owen Hatch. Hatch even seemed to like it. But Jackson has a serious purpose in carrying on. He wants to build his influence for the convention.

Reverend JESSE JACKSON (Democratic Presidential Candidate): We cannot maintain our leadership in the world, and be in complicity with South Africa and apartheid.

BODE: Dukakis has already agreed that the Democratic platform will condemn South Africa as a terrorist state. He’s not likely to yield, however, on Jackson’s position to freeze defense spending or on raising taxes on corporations and the rich, but Jackson will try. In Washington, Jackson is also collaring superdelegates. Here is Senator Wyche Fowler of Georgia. Jackson won Georgia. And here, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont,. Jackson won Vermont. Of all members of the House and Senate, Jackson has the support of only one white, Senator Fritz Hollings of South Carolina.

Senator FRITZ HOLLINGS (Democrat, South Carolina): Well I would think that Jesse frightened the bejesus out of them before we had to go. I remember him standing up and saying his time has come, I want to know. This time he’s run a winning campaign. He hasn’t frightened anyone; he’s charmed them in all of those different debates.

BODE: Jackson wants progress. If blacks have been voting 90 percent for white Democrats, why can’t white congressmen and senators vote for Jesse Jackson in states and districts that he won?

Rev. JACKSON: One heart beat away from leadership of the free world and the western civilization is not an unimportant job.

BODE: But what has Democrats confused and transfixed about Jesse Jackson are his hints about vice president. Jackson says he won thirteen states and seven million votes. He deserves serious consideration.

Rev. JACKSON: Mr. Dukakis says that he wants a vice president with foreign policy experience. Well…

BODE: Some fear Jackson may be raising expectations among his followers. You judge for yourself. Jesse Jackson on the ticket is a frightening thought to many mainstream Democrats. White voters aren’t ready, they say. According to polls, Jackson would hurt the ticket. Well let's hear from some mainstream black Democrats, many of whom did not support Jackson in 1984.

Representative JOHN LEWIS (Democrat, Georgia): Twenty-three years ago, Jesse Jackson along with many of us were fighting for the right to vote. Now we are fighting to see that Jesse Jackson is on the ticket.

Representative LOUIS STOKES (Democrat, Ohio): In the last election, with two whites on the ticket, we lost forty-nine of the fifty states. And we can’t do much worse than that.

BODE: Dukakis has said that Jackson will get serious consideration and last week Jackson met with the man heading Dukakis’s search for a vice president.

Rev. JACKSON: And my question simply was: tell me what the guidelines are and what the rules are. Because if the rules are not defined and they are elusive, obviously I could never win. If I know what the rules are then I can determine whether or not I qualify.

BODE: At the conference of black mayors in Philadelphia, host Mayor Wilson Goode:.

Mayor WILSON GOODE: He’s earned the right to be one of the top candidates for that job, and I think that they must regard him as a very, very serious contender.

BODE: Jesse Jackson said that he is tired of people asking, what does Jesse want?

Rev. JACKSON: It’s demeaning, it’s insulting, it’s personal, it’s small-minded…

BODE: But that question is on the minds of many people these days and partly because Jesse Jackson is strewing the landscape with hints.

Rev. JACKSON: In this day, we have the third world, seven-eighths of the human race. If I am on the ticket, for example, Russia could not out-compete me in Angola and Namibia and Mozambique.

BODE: Hints. His friend Bert Lance who talks to Jackson every day says that Jesse Jackson knows what he is doing.

Mr. BERT LANCE: He wanted to maintain control of that ball. He wanted to dribble it, if we have to use a sports metaphor, and that he had more moves than Michael Jordan so you couldn’t tell where he was going or when he was going to go ahead and make the slam dunk at the end of the court.

BODE: Jackson says he wants serious consideration and sometimes he seems to think that vice president might even be a good job.

Rev. JACKSON: We’ve had some wimps in the job. It’s not a wimp’s job. We’ve had some sleeping people in the job. It’s not a sleeper’s job. That job and that role has tremendous potential, really untapped potential.

BODE: 'Jesse Jackson for Vice President.' Does he really want it? Aides close to him say they don’t think he’s made up his mind, but that he seems genuinely more interested then they ever thought he would be.