Former Dukakis rival adds his voice to GOP `truth squad'

Ordinarily a king outranks a duke. But in Massachusetts, Michael Dukakis, or the ``Duke,'' deposed Edward King as governor six years ago. Now Mr. King is determined to do what he can to thwart the Dukakis campaign for the White House.

King, who three years ago defected to the Republican fold, has agreed to become part of the GOP ``truth squad'' out to discredit the Dukakis record.

King takes exception to Mr. Dukakis's claims that his administration's policies have reduced crime, shrunk state welfare rolls, or controlled waste in spending.

``It's beneath the dignity of the office of governor to take credit for the achievements of others,'' he contends.

Increasingly in dispute is the extent to which the much-touted ``Massachusetts miracle'' is genuine. Many contend it was well under way when Dukakis beat King to regain the governor's chair in 1982.

And Dukakis's recent problems in balancing the state budget hardly help his image as a manager who runs a tight financial ship. A recent analysis of the state budget outlook by a conservative-leaning, business-oriented study group notes the state's payroll has increased by 10,000 people over the past six years of the Dukakis administration.

Principal targets of the GOP'S anti-Dukakis campaign are business leaders, including some Republicans who may be leaning toward Dukakis. King's ``truth squad'' activities are expected to focus on Texas and California. The former governor, now in real estate development, spends much of his time in southern California.

It remains to be seen whether King's message will receive a royal reception. Though his criticisms may prove accurate, some political quarters see them as little more than sour grapes.

Indeed some Massachusetts backers of George Bush are cool to the idea of letting King carry the anti-Dukakis message outside the commonwealth. There are others, they say, who could do a more effective job pointing out possible Dukakis shortcomings.

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