Michael Dukakis on Roger Ailes: ‘He was not my favorite person’

Of all the political scalps Roger Ailes collected during his decades spent running political campaigns, none were bigger than Michael Dukakis.

The former Massachusetts governor’s presidential hopes were dashed by Ailes, who was working for future President George H.W. Bush’s 1988 campaign.

When Dukakis was asked yesterday about Ailes, who died yesterday morning, he had nothing nice to say.

“Look, the guy has passed away and I don’t want to say unkind things. He was not my favorite person, let’s leave it at that,” Dukakis told the Herald. The failed 1988 Democratic nominee was in Waltham to talk about organizing Democrats at the grassroots level nationwide.

“He practiced a brand of politics that I don’t believe in, I don’t like, and that was true whether I was involved or if it involved other candidates,” Dukakis said about Ailes. “But he’s passed away and so I extend my sympathies to his family, and the people who knew and liked him. But he wasn’t in my ballpark when it came to politics.”

Ailes is credited with damaging the Dukakis campaign with the notorious tank ad — using the image of Dukakis in a helmet that has schooled subsequent generations of candidates to avoid outlandish headgear. But Dukakis said it took more than a tank to blow up his campaign.

“It was more than that,” Dukakis said. Referring to a Massachusetts murderer who committed a rape while on furlough, Dukakis said, “It was Willie Horton and all that stuff.”

Dukakis gave him credit for being “involved and active” but couldn’t find anything in Ailes’ dossier worth praising.

“He put together a network that has had some influence on people’s thinking these days, there’s no question about that, but it’s so contrary to the views and beliefs that I and lots of us have, that I can’t say it was a great influence on the country in the best sense,” Dukakis said. “But he certainly was involved and active and for that I suppose we can give him some credit.”