ATLANTA -- Michael Dukakis and Jesse Jackson held a 'very, very good' face-to-face summit today, hours before the opening of the 40th National Democratic Convention, but Dukakis said 'no deal' was struck with the civil rights leader.
Dukakis, the three-term Massachusetts governor, and Jackson, the fiery leader of Democratic insurgents, indicated, however, that the breach between them that threatened the convention with political war had been repaired.
Dukakis and Jackson, as well as designated vice presidential nominee Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, met for more than two hours in a hotel suite in the convention city starting at 8:30 a.m. EDT.
Dukakis said, 'We've had a very, very good meeting' and Jackson said the session was 'broad, in-depth, detailed and, in my mind, fruitful.'
But in response to a question, Dukakis firmly said, 'There is no deal and there is no fine print' addressing the demands Jackson has made in return for a friction-free convention and the backing of his supporters in the campaign against Republican Vice President George Bush in the fall.
Jackson, who felt he was snubbed when Dukakis did not tell him in advance that Bentsen would be his vice presidential pick, said the second spot on the ticket did not come up at the meeting.
The preacher-politician, who had mentioned the possibility of challenging Bentsen for the nomination, said his campaign has 'no plans to submit my name into nomination' Thursday and added, 'There will be no encouragement of anyone to do it.'
Despite the apparent harmony, there were no specifics given by either Dukakis or Jackson for the civil rights leader's demand for 'shared' partnership and participation in the fall campaign, which he has never defined.
But the 54-year-old Dukakis said, 'I want Jesse Jackson to play a major role in the campaign' and said Jackson's dissident supporters would be an 'essential part of the coalition' in his effort to win the White House.
Dukakis said, however, 'Beginning today, we go forward with discussion of the platform, an effort to bring into our campaign key (Jackson) staff people. ... He will be doing everything he possibly can and I want him to do everything -- campaigning together and seperately.'
Jackson, 46, said discussions on the platform, which he ordered halted Tuesday after Bentsen, 67, was picked as vice president, will resume but indictated he will challenge some of the party planks.
'The platform negotiations will resume today,' Jackson said. 'No doubt there will be debate and deliberation on tomorrow night. Debate and deliberation stirs the soul of our democracy. We will debate over the soul of our party. We will debate policy, priorities and direction.'
Indicating that Dukakis had been receptive to at least some of his demands, the civil rights leader, who polled nearly 7 million votes and has more than 1,100 delegates, said, 'We talked about an expanded role and participation on the Democratic Committee, at the state and national level.'
Dukakis said it was 'premature' to discuss Jackson's role if the Democrats win in November, saying that once victory is in hand, 'we can build ... unity' and the 'rest will take care of itself.'
Asked about his remarks that the Democratic Party can only have one quarterback -- the nominee -- Dukakis said, 'Great quarterbacks aren't great quarterbacks unless they have very strong members of their team.'
'You have to have a team that's together when you walk out of that huddle. ... If each of those key players is not doing his job and working at it and working together, that team falls apart,' Dukakis said. 'Reverend Jackson will play a critically important role.'
Jackson added, 'The governor has adequately defined the relationship. ... We in substance got down to the final role. It is a very significant step ... inclusion, expansion and support.'
'I made it very clear. ... I seek no job. I seek no title. I seek no salary,' Jackson said. 'My effectiveness would be lessened if I had a job, salary.'
Dukakis said Jackson 'is going to be involved, actively and fully in a way that will bring us together.' Alluding to the voter registration effort that Jackson has made a cornerstone of his two presidential campaigns, the governor said Jackson will help the party 'build the strongest grass-roots community organization we hope has ever been organized for a presidential campaign.'
The meeting at Dukakis's luxury hotel was the culmination of nearly a week of behind-the-scenes maneuvering by top aides. The last time the two met was on the Fourth of July, when Dukakis and his wife, Kitty, had Jackson and his wife, Jackie, over to their Brookline, Mass., home for dinner, followed by fireworks and a concert by the Boston Pops.
The ultimate aim of the negotiations, both camps said, was laying the groundwork for a harmonious national convention that unifies Democrats and energizes the party toward the autumn battle with Bush.
An extra goal is for the convention to play well on television; the most important events are scheduled for between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. EDT.
As the candidates smoothed over their differences, the 4,212 delegates and alternates were to get a look at their political base for the next four days, the Omni Coliseum, the 11,000-seat home of the Atlanta Hawks professional basketball team.
The Omni the smallest arena Democrats ever have chosen for their quadrennial conclave, and seating is so tight that some delegations - including the one from Dukakis's home state -- will be in the stands, not on the convention floor.
While staged in Atlanta, the convention tilts decidedly toward Texas -- aside from Bentsen, House Speaker Jim Wright from Fort Worth will preside and Texas Treasurer Ann Richards will deliver tonight's keynote address.
The tiered rostum, from which Dukakis will receive the party's nomination Wednesday, is pleasingly painted peach, silver and azure; delegate seats are covered in red, white and blue in a layout planners hope will look like the American flag.
Dukakis, who arrived in the hot and hazy convention city Sunday afternoon with Bentsen, began working immediately to broaden the scope of the week ahead, declaring, 'This party is bigger than Michael Dukakis or Jesse Jackson.'
But the pragmatic son of Greek immigrants also made plaine he is in charge of the party after beating Jackson and six other major candidates for the nomination during the long 1988 primary campaign. Dukakis has about 2,400 delegates to Jackson's roughly 1,100.
'Every team has to have a quarterback and that's the nominee,' he said Sunday as he prepared to leave Boston. 'You can't have two quarterbacks.'
As the delegates, reporters, party officials and candidates arrived, top aides to the two central figures spent much of Saturday and Sunday meeting in a frantic drive to resolve their remaining problems.
In other pre-convention developments:
-Police could do little to control an angry crowd of about 1,000 people who disrupted three marches by Ku Klux Klansmen and neo-Nazi 'skinheads' in the first of an expected 40 demonstrations this week. No one was arrested or seriously injured in Sunday's incidents.
-Surveys of delegates found them more optimistic about winning the presidency than 1984 delegates. An ABC News-Washington Post survey and a poll by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution both found 93 percent of delegates enthusiastic about Dukakis's chances of beating Bushin November.
-Party elders predicted that despite the intraparty turmoil, the Democrats will leave Atlanta as one. Former President Jimmy Carter, his vice president, Walter Mondale, the 1984 nominee, and former Democratic National Chairman Robert Strauss all said differences would be put aside by week's end.
-The oldest delegate is Felisa Rincon de Gautier, 91, of Puerto Rico; the youngest is Jerry Meek, 17, of Fayetteville, N.C., who will turn 18 a week before the general election.
While Jackson's demands have not been specific, he has said he wants a 'place at the table' for his supporters -- blacks, Hispanics, poor, young, liberals -- who 'never left the party' to vote for Ronald Reagan like other Democrats.
In an interview on CBS-TV Sunday, the civil rights leader reiterated, 'All we are seeking is partnership and shared responsibility' in the campaign and in any Dukakis administration.
Iowa farmer Dickson Terry, a Jackson delegate, said the candidate warned his supporters against confrontation, advising, 'No votes are going to be gained by going around snarling at people.'
Asked about his relations with Jackson, Dukakis resorted to an anecdote.
'I can only think of what Abe Lincoln said about Democrats -- that they sound like cats fighting in the night, but in the morning there are more Democrats,' he said, adding, 'I hope we're going to have more Democrats.'