|Jesse Jackson presidential campaign, 1988|
|Campaign||U.S. presidential election, 1988|
|Candidate||Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr.|
|Chant||If my mind can conceive it and my heart can believe it I know I can achieve it|
The 1988 Jesse Jackson presidential campaign was Jesse Jackson's second campaign for President of the United States. This time, his successes in the past made him a more credible candidate and he was both better financed and better organized. Although most people did not seem to believe he had a serious chance at winning, Jackson once again exceeded expectations as he more than doubled his previous results, prompting R. W. Apple, Jr. of The New York Times to call 1988 "the Year of Jackson".
In early 1988, Jackson organized a rally at the former American Motors assembly plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin, approximately two weeks after new owner Chrysler announced it would close the plant by the end of the year. In his speech, Jackson spoke out against Chrysler's decision, stating "We have to put the focus on Kenosha, Wisconsin, as the place, here and now, where we draw the line to end economic violence!" and compared the workers' fight to that of the civil rights movement in Selma, Alabama. As a result, the UAW Local 72 union voted to endorse his candidacy, even against the rules of the UAW. However, Jackson's campaign suffered a significant setback less than two weeks later when he was defeated handily in the Wisconsin primary by Michael Dukakis. Jackson's showing among white voters in Wisconsin was significantly higher than in his 1984 run, but was also noticeably lower than pre-primary polling had indicated it would be. The discrepancy has been cited as an example of the so-called "Bradley effect".
Jackson's campaign had also been interrupted by allegations regarding his half-brother Noah Robinson, Jr.'s criminal activity. Jackson had to answer frequent questions about his brother, who was often referred to as "the Billy Carter of the Jackson campaign".
On the heels of Jackson's narrow loss to Dukakis the day before in Colorado, Dukakis' comfortable win in Wisconsin terminated Jackson's momentum. The victory established Dukakis as the clear Democratic frontrunner, and he went on to claim the party's nomination, but lost the general election in November. In both races, Jackson ran on what many considered to be a very liberal platform. Declaring that he wanted to create a "Rainbow Coalition" of various minority groups, including African Americans, Hispanics, Middle Eastern Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, family farmers, the poor and working class, and LGBT people, as well as white progressives, Jackson ran on a platform that included:
With the exception of a resolution to implement sanctions against South Africa for its apartheid policies, none of these positions made it into the party's platform in either 1984 or 1988.
|10 O'Clock News, Is Jesse Jackson unelectable?, Boston TV News, Digital Library, 03/04/1988, 3:11|
|Outcome of Michigan caucuses, WGBH Media Library & Archives, 03/28/1988, 3:47|
Jackson captured 6.9 million votes and won 11 contests: seven primaries (Alabama, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Puerto Rico and Virginia) and four caucuses (Delaware, Michigan, South Carolina and Vermont). Jackson also scored March victories in Alaska's caucuses and Texas's local conventions, despite losing the Texas primary. Some news accounts credit him with 13 wins. Briefly, after he won 55% of the vote in the Michigan Democratic caucus, he was considered the frontrunner for the nomination, as he surpassed all the other candidates in total number of pledged delegates.
Following the election of Barack Obama in 2008 as the first African-American to become U.S. President, Jackson was asked about his emotion regarding the 20-year wait for a man of his skin color to reach the nation's highest office, and noted that while he had played some role in helping to create the circumstances for the 2008 election, his remark was not to diminish the efforts of the Obama campaign.
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