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tv   1952 Presidential Election  CSPAN  October 3, 2015 8:45am-9:56am EDT

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. he examines the myth that -- ran against their own convictions. the kansas city public library hosted this event. it is a little over an hour. so, good -- henry: so, good evening. i am the former director of public affairs. or, perhaps befitting my new part-time status as a visiting fellow at the university of kansas, maybe i should say director of public affairs emeritus. me, ier you want to call am off of the payroll here, but from thistay away
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place, i am afraid. as one of my former colleague said an hour ago, i can't go cold turkey. especially tonight, when for the fourth time in four years, we are hosting presidential historian extraordinaire john robert greene, a professor of history and humanities in cazenovia, new york, where yes taught for the past 36 years. he also serves as the college archivist. as i just adjusted, since 2012 bob greene has been making annual appearances at the kansas city public library. in 2012 he spoke on president george h. w. bush. in 2013 he was back for a talk about first lady betty ford. last year, almost to the day of the 40th anniversary of richard nixon's resignation, bob was here to give a presentation about the administration of
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gerald ford. these three programs, part of our beyond the gamut series were held in conjunction with our good friend at the truman library institute. but of course, we have another presidential library in the neighborhood, more or less just down i-70 in abilene, kansas. this year, which happens to be 125th anniversary year of eisenhower's birth, we have launched a series with the dwight eisenhower presidential library museum and boyhood home to examine the eisenhower era. thanks to the tremendous support from the foundation, commerzbank trustees. tonight, which marks the midpoint of that series, bob greene, the library's good friend and someone who is become my good friend over the last four years is back.
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he's back to give us a review of the 1952 presidential election pitting republican party nominee eisenhower against democratic candidate stephenson. it's no exaggeration to say that this talk has been in the making for more than 35 years. bob wrote his doctoral dissertation about it, which was shortly published thereafter as his first book, the first of 17 he has either written or edited. a seriously revised version of that first book, the dissertation on the 1952 campaign, is forthcoming. it won't be available tonight, but you will be able to order it on amazon soon enough. ladies and gentlemen, please welcome bob greene. [applause] mr. greene: you are not going
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to be able to quit this place. thank you so much, henry. good evening, everybody. how are you? wonderful kansas city weather out there. i was worried about you people with snow and how i have to be worried about you with torrential downpours. it is so good to be back. it is so good to be back. it is always a lot of fun to come back from casanovia college, in upstate new york, where the snow comes and comes and comes. it is wonderful to come from here to here. this is one of the best venues to speak in the entire country.
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[applause] mr. greene: the truman forum room has the wonderful ability to be scholarly and intimate at the same time. coming here to the truman forum is something i look forward to every single year. we started talking about this talk, henry and i, six or seven months ago. for anybody in the pr business, you know when you get invited someplace, they immediately want a blurb about what you will talk about. this is six months before. i came up with this concept,
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talking about the myths that persist about the 1952 presidential race. i had no idea what i was going to say about them six months ago, but i kept this idea of myths as the basis for my talk tonight. when you get involved in academics, as a young scholar -- and i was young once, a hell of a long time ago. you get your doctoral dissertation and you get the opportunity to say something. the opportunity to give back to the academy. the opportunity to make a historical case to the public for the first time.
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you want to say some thing important. that is what books are supposed to be. you want to say something important, something lasting. you don't want to say the same thing over and over again. you don't want to just latch onto the myths of the past that may or may not be correct, but as people say, if it is not true, it should be. and you don't want to repeat over and over again about what people have said about a specific event. you are immediately drawn as a young person to write something new. to revise history. not to make it untrue, but to say something that people have not said before about the elections, about presidential scholarship, about history in general. you want to reinterpret what was an orthodox view. that is what i did with my first really bad book, that was published in 1985, as henry said, it was my dissertation.
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i didn't even revise it. i was in a hurry to get it in print. it was on the presidential election of 1952 entitled "the crusade." i wanted it to say something different about the election than it had said before. so i tackled the myths of the presidential election. what i centered on was the myth of the draft. you know what it is, dwight eisenhower was drafted. he didn't want to run. he was drafted by a group fronted by the citizens for eisenhower. organized by tom dewey, whom i will talk about later. he was drafted against his will. and adlai stevenson, who didn't want to run, was drafted by a group of people fronted by
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walter johnson from the university of chicago, leo learners in illinois. he was drafted against his will. what did i say in the first book? none of this happened. and i said, neither one of them were drafted. that it was a myth. i thought it was great. the reviews were pretty good. then i went to a conference in 1992. this is where's waldo. you have to find me in this picture. i am the guy, fifth from the left, with black hair. standing next to mr. and mrs. john minor wisdom. for a good three hours, they beat me up senseless about how wrong i was with my book. it was a very humbling
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experience. i kind of thought that by fighting -- hiding behind an "i like ike" button would make me more objective. but i seriously wondered if what i had said a few years before was even correct. over the years, and in between other projects, and i have been fortunate enough to speak to you about these other projects, i have never let the presidential election of 1950 to get away. it is -- of 1952 get away. it is kind of like my first child -- who doesn't want to get away either, but that is neither here nor there. [laughter] i realized i was not really saying material that was false. it wasn't a myth. but it was not the whole story.
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the acclaimed nigerian author chimamanda ngozi adichie came up with this idea, a ted talk in 2009. she spoke of the dangers of taking an historical event and seeing only one part of it, because that is what you want to talk about. that is what interests you. that is what you know the best. the problem with that, it is a stereotype. breaking down the myth of the eisenhower-stevenson draft was a stereotype in it self. but it was incomplete. what a historian needs, and i
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think it has taken me 35 years of writing and teaching to really grasp this,'s texture. -- this, is texture. context. not just to write about what happened, but about what it meant. presidential elections are a perfect forum for that. because they are exciting. they are dramatic. they are often loony. don't get me started. i'm from new york. they are good stories, but if you take them just in and of themselves, you have only got part of the story. what they do is forecast the future. if you look at what we call
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realigning elections. 1932. 1832. 1789. 1960. 2000. those elections changed what happened in american history. 1952 did the same thing. i was more interested in 1985 in telling people what i knew about the elections than telling them what it meant. i have a new opportunity now takes to the universal election -- university election series to rethink everything. i am of the opinion now -- i was speaking with chuck myers and my editor -- i saw him blanche when i suggested this, that every author who gets a contract
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should automatically be given a contract to rewrite their book 20 years later. it has to be mandatory. you have to do this. because you will get a different book 20 years later. that is what i am working on now and what i want to share with you. i want to talk about some of the context from which this comes. that is not a typo. the presidential election of 1952 begins with the problems harry truman was happen -- having in 1949. you cannot divorce the election from what was happening after 1949. nothing truman wanted was going through congress -- the republican congress. he was faced with scandals -- five-percenters.
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he was not implemented, but it hurt his administration badly. remember the great debate. in all talk about bob taft second, about whether the nation should be participating with nato or the united nations, or the whole concept of truman's loss of china. that has been completely debunked, but the republicans were beating him over the head with that and they were making his life miserable through congress. truman had the interesting distinction of beginning his presidency as a wartime president, and ending his presidency as a wartime president with two different wars.
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and the domestic war he released on himself by recalling that was macarthur was hurting his administration -- by recalling douglass macarthur was hurting his administration. and the issue of communism and the rise of just carthy hurt him -- the rise of joseph mccarthy hurt him. the dixiecrat's were showing every single sign this was key to the election, of walking out again in 1952 over civil rights and the issue of the tidelands oil, whether louisiana and california could own the oil off the coast, or whether that oil was owned by the federal government. all of these problems may truman vulnerable. truman could have run again in 1952. virtually everyone until
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december of 1951 thought that he was going to. bob taft, who had all ready for the presidency three times, began his fourth presidential campaign romans after he lost the 1948 nomination -- campaign, moments after he lost the 1948 nomination to doing. -- to dewey. he was a thoughtful senator. old-school. articulate. less conservative in domestic affairs than people have given him credit for, but clearly the voice of unabashedly isolationism. withdraw from nato, withdraw from the netted nations. -- the united nations. he owned the republican party after tom dewey's failure. everyone thought it would be an inevitable taft-truman race in 1952.
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he did not want to run. the correspondence is absolutely clear. he also did not want to be at nato. he was assigned there by harry truman. perhaps to get him out of the country as a political threat, but truman's correspondence was equally clear that he believed that eisenhower would never run. duty to the world, duty to his nation as head of nato. if you take sentences of eisenhower's correspondence out of context, which i did as a kid, you can find hints that maybe he might run under the right circumstances. but if you let eisenhower and
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adlai stevenson talk to you through their correspondence as a whole, it is certain that neither one of them wanted to run. but dwight eisenhower changes his mind. we know this because he did it. there is no debating it. in december of 1951, his correspondence gets to the point where -- i might allow myself to be a candidate. in january, 1952, eisenhower says "ok i will accept the nomination." three month later he is campaigning in the united states. he does actively change his mind. what changed his mind is that he did not want taft to win. he did not want the policy of isolationism to compromise what he had built at nato. he was willing, against his will, to run for the presidency. a job that he a poured.
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-- abhorred. that he has seen literally ruin so many lives of those around him. he would have been opposed by minor candidates, smaller pictures. harold stassen, miller warren. people forget before harold stassen began to run for the presidency over and over again, he was the youngest governor in the united states in minnesota. they called him the boy wonder. earl warren, while he had not yet become what he would become as chief justice, had already run for vice president of the united states.
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these were two fairly major players. they were never major enough to deal in the same circles in 1952. as eisenhower's mind started changing, as his correspondence showed that he was becoming more and more troubled by the stance that bob taft was taking, what was happening concurrently, running parallel with his change of mind, where the politicos were starting to organize a campaign without a candidate. tom dewey, as early as 1949, knew that he could not run again. he wanted to desperately, but he would be humiliated at the convention. taft would be his brains in. so instead, he decided to become a kingmaker. he starts pulling like-minded republican leaders, carlson from kansas.
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duff from pennsylvania, and others together into a shadow organization for eisenhower, keeping his name out there. he keeps a link to eisenhower through general lucius clay. clay was one of eisenhower's closest friends, a constant companion in nato and paris, and he would communicate to eisenhower through clay. clay was the individual who organized the berlin airlift. when it got to him that they needed some organization on the ground, he turned to the junior senator from massachusetts, henry cabot lodge. he was working so hard that he let slide to a kid he did not think could beat him in 1952. young congressman john f. kennedy.
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what lodge gave to eisenhower in 1952 hurt him in the long run. he formed what was called the eisenhower committee. when eisenhower changes his mind, he comes back to an organization that was already there and running for him. eisenhower decides that he is willing to accept the nomination as long as he doesn't have to run for it. but he does come back to run. what changes his mind? three things. the first -- you should really take a look at this online, an event at madison square garden. the rally itself was a rally for eisenhower that was run by jacqueline cochran and her husband text mccrery -- tex mcrerry.
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they put this thing together and had over 20,000 people at this event. they take the thing and fly it to paris and show it to eisenhower. eisenhower writes in his diary that he cried. he was really choked up. he did not accept until that point that people really wanted him. then he was shown that in two primaries and he does that campaign for either one of them. in new hampshire he goes up against bob taft. beats him without having set foot in the state. in minnesota, he comes in second to harold stassen without even being on the ballot.
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he was a write-in. it was these events that made eisenhower believe that people wanted him. and he was winning. by the way, this is a different primary setting. today the primaries run everything. we will have our two nominees probably by may, if not by april, of next year. the primaries, there were only 12 in 1952, and the primaries chose a very small number of delegates. the rest was done with backroom dealing. with the delegates. which taft had sewn up. taft was so far ahead of eisenhower going into chicago, and after winning the wisconsin
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primary, eisenhower realized if he did not come back that he would lose the nomination. so he does. june 1, 1952, eisenhower comes back and announces his candidacy, which had our he happened, in his hometown of abilene, kansas down the road. it was a very inauspicious beginning. his speech was lousy. it was halting and he was terrible. he said so himself. the next day, when he met the press one-on-one and not delivering a set speech, it was like night and day. the eisenhower committee knew just what they wanted to do with him in the fall. and what kind of a speaker he was going to be. so, eisenhower comes back in, june, 1952, as a candidate and
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has two months to deal and get delegates away from bob taft. there is another political party in this country. harry truman treated it as his personal property. harry truman had decided as early as 1949 not to run. harry truman is wonderful in that he wrote letters to himself. these are extraordinary letters, and letters that he wrote about a book. "dear betts." he would stay up very late and he would write a letter to put on her pillow so she would see it in the morning. it was almost like a diary entry. harry truman said he did not want to run in 1952, but he was not about to give up his control
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of the democratic party. he was going to name an error -- heir apparent and this is like a comedy of errors because nobody wants it. what we have to keep in context is, nobody wanted to run against bob taft. not eisenhower. truman's first choice is the chief justice of the supreme court, fred vinson. vinson dressed for business and i don't know what truman is dressed for. this is down in key west. vinson came to the conclusion that his health would preclude him from running. he dies just a few years later so he must have known something. he tells truman no. truman is disappointed. truman has been linked to
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another possible candidate for the presidency. estes kefauver, senator from tennessee, who made his mark running against the memphis crump machine by putting on a coonskin cap saying i may be pet coon, but i ain't their pet coon. he is the first reality show presidential candidate. you may member the crime hearings, the subject of my masters thesis, kefauver is the first politician to use a nationally televised event, long before mccarthy, and see what the potential of television was.
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in so doing, kefauver goes to city after city and exposes corruption in the democratic party and he wants the democratic nomination. telman hated his guts and called him senator cow fever. he will when several primaries, but he will never be the person who truman will support. truman has heard about somebody else. a young governor of illinois who had built his reputation as a progressive. who had built his petition on a veto of a conservative law against civil rights. i will say more about his
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articulateness in a moment, but more than eisenhower, stevenson kept his word. he would stay absolutely true to that. stevenson never did become a candidate for the nomination. he wasn't drafted, but he never did become a candidate for the nomination. on three separate occasions he tells harry truman, no. truman is apoplectic. he cannot figure this out. he writes letters about why he want take this, he can give them uncommitted delegates, but they don't want it. all he has to deal with his kefauver.
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truman gets mad enough to allow his name to stay in the new hampshire primary, against the advice of all of his aides, and kefauver beats him. out right, square. one myth that is untrue is that truman wanted to perpetuate that he did not run in 1952. he did. he allowed his name to stay on the ballot. this is kefauver reading the ballots. i don't know how he can suppress his smile, it is only been done -- it has only been done three times in history. truman decides, even though he doesn't have an heir, he is in the middle of the steel strike, he finally decides that the jefferson/jackson day dinner, at the old armory in d.c., he announces that he will not be a candidate.
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it is interesting how he words it, because he had already been a candidate, but he will not be a candidate in 1952. all of the reporters at the event -- it's like, we are looking at truman and everybody who was there said all the reporters looked and found stevenson in the room and started staring at him. but there were others who decided that they would try to fill in the vacuum of truman's withdrawal. they all had their liabilities. richard russell of georgia was too southern. bob kerr of oklahoma was too rich. averill harriman of new york did not know how to give a speech.
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truman finally settled on a 72-year-old partially blind man, alben barkley of kentucky. you have to ask yourself, and i think it is fair to ask, why, when stevenson is saying no and vinson has said no, does truman settle on barkley who definitely wanted the job. truman says i am going to give you support and does it in the presence of advisors. barkley is in the room and truman says i will give you my support at the convention and barkley takes him at his word. if you go to wikipedia, where all good knowledge goes to die, and you type in " republican
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convention 1952," this is what shows up. not the convention but the draft eisenhower movement. the myth of the draft continues. so many writers want to perpetuate it, and it wasn't so. it didn't happen. he allowed his name to be put in in january, then he runs himself. that is not a draft. taft is so far ahead, that they had to change the rules. a fair play amendment. the amendment that said you could not vote on anything before the convention if you were contesting delegation. they changed the rules, and it was masterful. it was all henry cabot lodge. eisenhower wins the nomination,
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but it wasn't the draft. it wasn't even close. this was not a last-minute choice by any stretch of the imagination. tom dewey had met with young richard nixon early in 1952 in a suite in new york city, and offered -- eisenhower isn't even running yet, and dewey offered him the vice presidential nomination. nixon was going to deliver the california nomination but he didn't have to. the fair play amendment through it to eisenhower -- threw it to eisenhower. when you think of a candidate, you want them to fill gaps. young, conservative so that presidential candidate can be a moderate. energetic. the second-leading public face for anti-communism in the
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country at the time. nixon was a perfect choice. he doesn't look too excited, does he? on the other side of the coin, i type in democratic convention and i get the successful movement to draft eisenhower. what is with wikipedia? -- the successful movement to draft stevenson. what is with wikipedia? this is harder, because there was a draft movement. it was run by walter johnson, but it did not draft stevenson. this is what i thought happened. harry truman stepped out and suddenly said, you're my boy. that is not what happened. what happened, the story is much
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more complicated, is that a group of labor leaders, go to alben barkley, who has harry truman's word that he will support him, and those labor leaders say to berkeley, your too old and we cannot support you -- you're too old and we cannot support you. barkley is many things but he is not a political neophyte. without labor, he cannot be nominated. he withdraws before the convention opens. in his memoirs, he blames truman. there is a lot to be said for that. truman could have, and did not stop that meeting. truman may have had the meeting scheduled. truman always wanted stevenson.
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he went to berkeley as a -- barkley as a last resort. the key to the convention was stopping another dixiecrat walkout. if that meant going with stevenson, that would be great. for truman it was anybody but kefauver. on monday of the convention, something happens we have not been able to document even with the great scholarship that i have been able to bring to the table. [laughter] stevenson changes his mind and we don't know why. we can only guess. he definitely changes his mind because he announces his candidacy. he says i will let the governor of indiana put my name into nomination. that is a candidate. it is not a draft. stevenson consistently says to the draft, leave me alone. he shuts them out. he announces himself as a candidate. i have come to the conclusion that stevenson believed that he
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was the only person who could stop a southern walkout. particularly if he chose a southerner as his vice presidential candidate. a moderate southerner. john sparkman of alabama. he was no dixiecrat. his views on race were repressed during the campaign, but he had quietly worked against the dixie craddick -- dixicratic movement. stevenson did it himself, neither man, eisenhower nor stevenson, was drafted. people simply want to continue saying that they were drafted because they fit into the mythology of both dwight
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eisenhower and adlai stevenson in the way people want to perceive them. this, i believe, is the only picture of the two men together. it was during the transition of december in 1952. stevenson smiling because it is over, eisenhower smiling because it is just beginning. how, as a writer, should i write on a rout? on massacre? eisenhower never once trailed in the polls. eisenhower scholars do this by calling it eminently protectable. it was a foregone conclusion. i liked ike and so did everybody else. it gives validity to the age of eisenhower. stevenson scholars, when they talk about the campaign, they
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emphasize that in a losing cause, adlai stevenson raised the bar of political discourse to such a level that it did not matter that he lost. in fact, one of the most heavily quoted quotes of the campaign was when stevenson says to governor allan shivers of texas, i don't have to win. both those assessments have some merit, but both have become cliches. allowing historians to avoid any real discussion of the fall campaign. everything that has been written, and my book right now, to put it charitably, a weak book, is the only book on the 1952 presidential election.
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one of the reasons for that is that people think that a rout is uninteresting. another way to deal with it is to take a page from nixon scholarship. nixon scholars have looked at the checkered speech and used it to forecast what nixon would become. if you take a look at several moments in the 1952 campaign, several decisions, several changes. 1952 becomes not only more interesting, but more important. able to forecast where politics is going. for that, both eisenhower and stevenson can take credit.
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this election has been written as if eisenhower did not run against anybody. it doesn't work like that. i think what you have to do is to think in terms of context and texture. nobody has done this 1952, least of all me in 1985. let's take a couple of these moments and talk about what they bring to the table. the first of what has been dismissively called the surrender. eisenhower, who had just prior going to nato, served as a college president at columbia university, maintained his home there at morningside heights in upper new york city. he invites bob taft to bury the hatchet and hopefully not have bob taft bury the hatchet in him. because, there were a lot of
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conservatives who were hurt at what happened in the convention at the change of the rule, and bob taft did not -- if bob taft did not support eisenhower, eisenhower would have a difficult time of it. the two men finally meet, and i submit this is the last time you will see a moderate and a conservative being nice to each other in the republican party to the present day. before the republican party is rent apart by nixon and rockefeller and goldwater, etc.. this is bipartisanship within a party. there has to be a name for that and if anybody can say what that is i will use it in the book and footnote it and give you credit. there has to be a name for two wings of the party coming together. maybe the word is just, "smart."
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long before nixon discovered in 1968 that race baiting in the south would bring republican votes to the table and take them away from the democratic party, dwight eisenhower makes the first move. he overrules all of his advisors and campaigns in the south. not for very long but he goes deep in the south. he asks -- yes, the brown states stayed with stephenson, but the real story is that texas, missouri, tennessee, virginia, florida and maryland shift into the republican column. long before we have the dynamic we do today, dwight eisenhower's simple decision -- and he says to his advisers, i want to campaign as a candidate of the american people. the simple decision to make television spots, rather than
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make television speeches, which had been tried in 1948, changes the face of presidential campaigning to the present day. citizens for eisenhower, which as a group, many continue to say drafted eisenhower, they did not. what they did do is pay for and front much of the advertising pay -- in 1952. they were simple spots, men and women off the street saying something and eisenhower answering it. they were devastatingly clear, they show the candidate. they were not negative spots in any way. stevenson would not do it. he said they cheapened the campaign. there is something to be said
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for that, but eisenhower won. in so doing, he changed the landscape of politics forever. adlai stevenson was articulate. he was a gifted speecher. he was not a gifted speaker. he could read an articulate speech better than any politician in 1952 and perhaps since then. what stevenson could not do, in the famous words of john barlow martin, was converse with somebody about baseball. what stevenson did with his speeches, and let's face it, one of the best-selling books of 1953 was a collection of stephenson's speeches and he was
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the -- a collection of stevenson's speeches and he was a losing candidate. it creates the perception of the democratic party being egghead and liberal. 1960 would complete that. the death of the intellectual in american politics. john f. kennedy figured out immediately he could not campaign like this in 1960. in an unfortunate way, stevenson's gifts as a writer of speeches brings the death of that kind of intellectualism in american politics to the point where i would argue we have not seen it since. but that does not mean he cannot be a cutthroat politician. stevenson starts right from the beginning that harry truman will not play any role in this
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campaign. he let slip right from the beginning that there was a mess in washington. there was, but a democrat was at the center of it and a president of the united states to boot. what would have happened if stevenson had allowed truman to campaign for them? you do that at your own peril. hubert humphrey's shutout lyndon johnson because of the war in vietnam. al gore shutout bill clinton in 2000. the exception who made it work, bush and reagan in 1980. reagan set the campaign out
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publicly and bush was able to praise reagan enough to bring conservatives to the table. how will the democratic candidate, in 2016, deal with president barack obama? particularly if his polls drop near the levels where harry truman's pulls dropped. -- polls dropped. the fund crisis was small potatoes. the fight over keeping richard nixon on the ticket was never serious. it had absolutely no impact on the presidential election of 1952. in the election, it is completely unimportant. no one votes for a vice presidential candidate. they didn't in 1952 and they don't today. nixon had it right, he kept telling the eisenhower people that they should ignore it and it would go away. it would have but eisenhower's people, particularly tom dewey panicked, and forced into a public apology on tv.
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the gop should have done nothing, but this is of particular importance in the future. he makes it one of his six crises in his 1962 memoir. richard nixon, everything would flow in his career from the checkers speech. in the presidential election. you have to have a disastrous chain of events for the presidential candidate to mean anything. this was a picture that nobody ever thought would happen. eisenhower said he felt dirty from the touch of joe mccarthy.
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in milwaukee, eisenhower goes in and consciously, i finally tracked this down through a lot of research, caught justly delete it from his speech a reference that criticized mccarthy for criticizing general george marshall. calling him a dupe of communists. eisenhower either took it out himself or had somebody take it out. it is fuzzy. some say that he waffled. maybe, just maybe, this is the beginning of what fred greenstein called the hidden hand presidency. eisenhower doing things behind the scenes. maybe this was the beginning of what eisenhower hoped would be a raprochment with mccarthy.
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he helped mccarthy would blow away, and he didn't, and he used richard nixon to help bring him down. what does this say about the future president of the united states? no one speech changes a campaign. october 16 in hartford, eisenhower says, " i shall go to korea." the impact of that has been way overdone. the campaign is over by that point. the stories of him gaining after that are exaggerated. he went from 44 points in the polls to 45. they were both struggling with ways to deal with the korean campaign and ways that are almost eerily in the way that richard nixon and hubert humphrey deal with the at nam in 1962. so -- to do with vietnam in 19 succeed to -- 1962. eisenhower said, "i shall go to korea." nixon just didn't tell anybody. this is ike with 15th regiment troops in korea. to me, that makes more sense.
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particularly with the way the election turns out with where things are going to go in the future. you can put up all the statistics in the world. you put up numbers and college students just [snores] they are gone. eisenhower won big-time. blue states for stevenson, eisenhower won just about everything else. there are things to be said for the future. eisenhower made inroads to the south. virginia, tennessee, texas, at florida. he broke into the fdr coalition. the ethnic vote, the polish
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vote, the german vote went for eisenhower. and women voted for eisenhower and abandoned the democrats. it was the middle class, loosely defined, living in the suburbs and watching leave it to beaver -- watching, "leave it to beaver," who helped eisenhower win big. it should not be presented that this was any kind of a sweep for the republican party. when you have three vote majority in the house, and one vote in the senate, it is not a realigning vote for the party. it was a personal victory for eisenhower. it shouldn't belittle it, but we should call it what it is. i got somewhat defensive along the way when people were telling me that i wasn't telling the
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whole story of 1952, when i was challenged in reviews. my reaction was something like this, i was young at one point in time. the more research that you do, the more time that you give yourself to think through, and not just write what you know, and 5000 footnotes, and 750 pages of detail -- we have a name for those, encyclopedias. when you actually think through to what it means, maybe something new will come. maybe someone like eisenhower or stevenson can change their minds. i changed my mind. on many things with 1952 as i sit this summer and right. maybe george bernard shaw had the answer.
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thank you very much, it has been a pleasure speaking with you. [applause] henry: thank you so much, bob. we will be taking questions at one of these two microphones and remember my instructions. prof. greene: that's right, follow the instructions and -- henry, it wouldn't be the same without you. thank you so much for everything you have done for the kansas city public library. [applause] >> is there anything stevenson could have done different that would have made any difference in this election? prof. greene: no.
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that is the problem writing about a rout. you have to go through and there is no dramatic moment or you can say, if you had done this you would have gained 15 points. it was impossible. the job of the historian, if you believed it was an important election, is to show how it was important for the future. stevenson could have done nothing. i do want to say this, people think that the nixon moment, the checkers speech could have saved it for stevenson. so many nixon biographer's treated as this moment where if nixon had dropped off the ticket and done the honorable thing, stevenson would've become president -- that is absolute nonsense. richard nixon was not that important in 1952. there are days that i feel that he was not important at all because he was a vice presidential nominee.
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>> given the landslide victory, do you think that stevenson actually thought he had a chance? prof. greene: that is a different question. >> if he didn't, why did he go to the same torture four years later? prof. greene: you have to be a special kind of individual, i'm being kind, to run for president of the united states. you have to be like an athlete on a 0-42 team. you have to believe the next moment will get you your first victory. you have to act constantly as if you can win. if your carly fiorina, you have to believe every single day that you will wake up and be ahead of donald trump in the polls or you cannot run. stevenson acted that way and people thought that was phony. that or naive. that he was a fool. it is what a politician does.
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if you cannot do that, you should not be in politics. this guy came up through chicago politics. >> i am a native of illinois. [laughter] prof. greene: nasty politics. but he believed that he somehow could win. more's the pity. >> you said that no one ever votes for a vice presidential candidate. my question is, does anyone, beside me, ever vote against the vice presidential candidate and therefore the whole ticket. i'm thinking of mccain and palin. prof. greene: the statistics on that election show that the numbers of people who voted against mccain for palin were very small. like the nixon literature, palin
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herself and people who have written -- "game change" the book, make her out to be some sort of game changer. she did not lose that many votes. the answer to your question is political scientists will tell you that is the case, but if you will go on, richard nixon, sarah palin, you position your vice presidential run to have been more important than it was. >> i'm thinking of examples of iran and guatemala, in the eisenhower administration democracy is overthrown by covert operations and supporting the rise of dictatorships. what do you think would have been the result of a stevenson presidency and his foreign-policy? prof. greene: i read a book once that " 15 things that did not happen in american history, but should have." if we had lost at bunker hill, or the ticket charge, i don't know.
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i will only speculate. by the way, i fail students for doing that. i say history is history is history. anything else's your little conceit into fiction. let's do that for a moment, i submit it would have been close to the same. stevenson would have inherited many of the cold war supporters -- advisers of the truman administration who were setting the table for what happened in guatemala, for what happened in iran and iraq, for setting the table for what happened in cuba. abandoning batista. i think stevenson would have done that as quickly as dwight eisenhower did, but who knows? good question.
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>> i am usually interested in the women behind the president. what was maymay's thoughts on being the first lady and what she is rental and working with white. prof. greene: throughout the campaign that were rumors of stevenson being gay, and we now know that these rumors were perpetuated by none other than j edgar hoover. so here to bring his wife onto the campaign trail in a -- his sister onto the campaign trail where the sister looked like the wife and people thought she was the wife. that is infinitely more interesting than what mamie did which is to stay completely in the background. mamie was often ill, she was not drunk. she was often ill on the campaign trail and the stress really hurt her. she was constantly in the face
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of eisenhower's advisers saying you are working him too hard. she wanted him to take two weeks off in the middle of the campaign. he was winning anyway. she wanted him to go to denver and come back to abilene. she did not win that battle. by the way, there is an excellent biography of maybe eisenhower -- mamie eisenhower. i recommend it highly, it flashed her out very well. >> there is a story that a few years before, truman tried to recruit eisenhower as his successor. what happened in the interim, and why did eisenhower run as a republican if he could have easily run as a democrat?
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prof. greene: you are talking about an actual offer made to eisenhower before the 1948 convention were truman says i will help you get anything you want, including the presidency of the united states. eisenhower did not believe in 1948 that he had the constituency to run for president as a democrat or republican, and he puts out a sherman-esque statement, i am not going to run, period. what happened is eisenhower fell into great dislike with harry truman. he did not like the way the truman administration was running. he felt he was more of a republican than a democrat, and did not want to be manipulated by harry truman -- this was his view. there was never any doubt in anybody's mind in 1952 that ike
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would run as a republican. to distance himself from harry truman like adlai stevenson did. >> question, general marshall had been the yoda for eisenhower for a number of years, having appointed him as the commander in europe. i was wondering, it seems like mccarthy could take shots at people and eisenhower did nothing about that. the other one, it almost seems like reagan and eisenhower's elections could have been eerily similar? prof. greene: i will take a pass on the last one for a moment, because i really have to think that through. eisenhower and reagan have gotten comparisons because of their age, politics and the size of their victories, but the times were so different. i would have to think about that one.
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in terms of what happened at the moment in milwaukee -- one way of looking at this is that eisenhower diluted what could have been a strong statement of support from his mentor. in so doing, he could have taken the opportunity to position his presidency against such irresponsible statements, even if they were true. but he doesn't do that. he does one of two things for certain. he either ammends the speech himself, or he allows his speechwriters to cut this out at his bequest. what does that say about eisenhower? that either eisenhower wants to keep peace in the valley with mccarthy, and he sees mccarthy as being too big to take on in the national stage, or he needs
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to win wisconsin. wisconsin is a lot of electoral votes than? >> he took a page out of fdr's book then. prof. greene: that is a good point. i know you. >> dr. green, bob, thank you for another excellent program. [applause] if the library can find a way to get you back for a fifth program in five years, i will certainly be here. prof. greene: thank you, henry. thank you all very much. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute,which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit]
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>> the c-span network for politics, history. this morning at 10:30 on c-span, with nasa's announcement of liquid water on mars, the science, space, and technology committee talks to the experts about the announcement and the possibility of life in space. sunday evening at 6:30, business leaders and ms. -- media personalities discuss the issues driving the national conversation at the washington ideas forum. speakers include mitt romney and senior advisor to president obama valerie jarrett. on c-span kumarbook tv, martha talks about transitions. she is interviewed by white house chief of staff met mclarty. sunday at noon on in-depth, we are live with tom hartman, the author of several books including the crash of 2016, rebooting the


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