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tv   The Contenders  CSPAN  August 14, 2016 12:02am-2:06am EDT

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like us on facebook at c-span history. years --w, the content the contenders and their series who ran fors president and lost, but still changed history. this is american history tv, only on c-span3. >> in 1968, many americans thought they were voting to bring our sons home for vietnam -- from vietnam. since then, 20,000 of our sons have come home in coffins. i have no secret plan for peace.
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i have a public plan, and as one whose heart has eight for the past 10 years over the agony of vietnam, i hope to cease the bobbing -- the bombing of indochina on my inaugural day. >> a few months later, george mcgovern would lose badly to richard nixon. >> it was to -- 2:30 in the morning when mcgovern delivered speech in miami. why? happened was that
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mcgovern was very strong on the issue of vietnam. mcgovern as being one of the most influential men who ran for the presidency but was not successful. he spoke about the presidency in a way that no president has spoken about it before. he used strong language that had unsettled a lot of americans, and cause them to worry about how he would end the war. his search to end the war against established democrats -- there were some floor fights, there was an issue about how he was going to select his vice presidential running mate. when it came time for him to sit
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-- except his nomination, it was 2:30 in the morning. instead of speaking to a million theicans at prime time, only spoke to about 30 americans in the wee hours of the morning. through the 72 campaign and jewelsvention as well, would cover is joining us, a veteran local reporter, the man whond mainly covered the campaign back in 72. what is the atmosphere of the convention in 1972? >> exhaustion. one of the reasons mcgovern gave this speech so great is that
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fights continued to go on for so long, including the war in vietnam. even though the platform had been adopted. it played out even the next morning, when the staff met to choose a vice president, to decide who had to be vice president. it was done in a very hurried the pointling way, to of confusion that i am sure we will get to in this discussion. mostd to what was the disastrous part of the mcgovern campaign. the selection of a vice presidential nominee who did not stand up. >> were the people with him? were they still there? it was 230 in the morning. -- 2:30 in the morning.
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>> as a result of new rules in the selection of delegates, you had a lot of people there who had never been to any convention , who had not been involved much in politics before them. -- then. it was a great experience for them, staying up in a dimension -- for a convention in till to :00 -- until 2:00 in the morning. scott garrett, let me go back to you in mitchell, south dakota at the mcgovern museum. what is happening in our country at this time in 1972 that leads to the triumph of an antiwar candidate -- candidate to win
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the nomination of a democratic party. changed the complexion of the democratic party. -- the mostly focused makeup was mostly based around urban ethnic, catholics and blue-collar laborers. senator mcgovern was one of those in the party who thought it badly needed to reform, or it was going to die. populace werehite becoming southern white republicans due to the issues of several -- civil rights. he looked at the political landscape and saw there were opportunities to reach out to minority groups that had been ignored by both parties. to reach out to hispanics, and
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women, and to use. trying -- youths. he was trying to meld with the new deal coalition to create a democratic majority. coming out of the 1968 convention he had a chair commission on reform and a change in the delegate selection process that was very proactive trying to bring women, minorities, and young into the party. other elements of the democratic party, particularly organized were goinghe senate through a wild ride. vantage as an insurgent -- he had an advantage as an insurgent. he caught the establishment
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offguard, and as his success caught a lot notice from the democratic regulators. campaign in 1972 was the highlight of his public and presidency. >> will talk about that more in the program. speechn's acceptance that night was about reforming the democratic party. he also takes aim at the republican party and what they are doing at their convention, which is what -- which was held shortly after the democratic convention in miami. >> at this convention, i welcome the contrast.
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we chose this struggle, we reformed our party, and we let the people in. [applause] >> so we stand today, not as a collection of back room strategists, not as a tool of any special interest. [applause] , that is george mcgovern saying we let the people in. take us back to the 1968 convention when hubert humphrey gets the nomination and draw a clear connection for our viewers between this convention and 1972. >> this is when the antiwar
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movement is really starting to pick up steam. tois very frustrating president lyndon johnson, who is maintaining steam in vietnam. the antiwar activists start looking for an alternative to johnson, someone who will challenge him in the primaries. the only time a party tried to challenge a president with its own members was in 1912, with roosevelt. they wanted to quickly end the war and de-escalate in vietnam. mcgovern, and he declined. but senator mccarthy in minnesota decided to run as an antiwar candidate. surprised the political world as have -- by having a very strong showing against johnson. he did not win, but showed
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johnson that he was going to renomination.ime so johnson withdrew from the race. brother also entered the race. so they were going at it. at that point, the vice- president humphreys still supported the war of vice president johnson. deaf president often. president johnson. was her -- senator mccarthy trying to be the insurgent candidate. they were trying to enter a token candidacy toward the end. mcgovern did run a token presidency, but ultimately the nomination went to hubert thehrey, which infuriated
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antiwar movement become humphrey one -- only one -- not a single primary, he had not entered a signal primary. -- single primary. the caucuses were sometimes held , and were noty widely advertised. there was some disillusion with how humphreys was elected in 68. and -- so humphreys, in trying to appease the decided to make some more reforms. >> what is the mood like a d68
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68vention echo -- at the convention? moreere was a lot attention at the 68 convention because the party was so divided over the war. that was the year in which there were riots in the streets into cargo -- chicago. the police department was called out to the point where it was a police riot. there was a big fight over a vietnam flank. it generated tremendous teat -- sheet -- heat. even after the nomination of humphreys, i remember humphreys was a very sad figure at his own supposedly celebratory moment
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because he knew what was going on in the street and on the floor of the convention. himas such a criticism of and the continuation of the war. that was my experience of the most disruptive but most exciting convention in my time. >> compare how humphrey was chosen as the nominee in 68 to four years later how mcgovern is chosen. mcgovern had perform rules. delegates were selected in as they were four years. for years. by the nature of influence and a delegate, you had a ticket to the 1968 convention.
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in 1972, those people, in order theet the convention -- to convention, they had to run as delegates supporting one of the primary candidates. a lot of those people picked the by taking the 72, establishment candidate. disintegrated, and they were all left out of the convention hall. so many new people had never been to a convention before, and s instead ofthe seat the high and mighty who went to the conventions and 68. 68.n >> we are uncovering george inovern, our 13th contender
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this series. we're going to be taking your questions and comments as well, so we will get to your phone calls here and a bit. eastern central time, if you live in that area, dial (202) ., pacific time, (202) 737-0002. it was chaos after 1968, and despite all that chaos, it closed -- he closed the gap on nixon very quickly, it was a very close campaign. close, soht they were they tried to try again.
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they look to figure out who was the right guy for the chair, so they needed to look for several qualifications. one, do they have credibility with the insurgents? they also wanted someone who was loyal to the party, who they could work with and you could work with the regulars. iowa senator hill was also considered. mcgovern had campaign for humphrey, he was also -- always a loyal democrat. everyone was show -- so sure wouldcgovern were the -- in 72iable candidate because he would not be able to
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manipulate his campaign. so he became the chair, and people were wondering how he was able to push his performs through. was reallycommission dominated by those who were intent on opening up the process while the bill and those who organized labor did not think anything would come of it. >> if you did have a caucus, to , and a well-publicized party who got a chance to be a delegate, there were all sorts of practices where they got
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proxy votes and would pick up whoever they wanted to take. they tried to open up the process generally to make it more responsive to the voters. they also tried to do away with of winner take all format the primaries. they tried to give insurgent candidates a better chance to gain steam. and what was most controversial, touppose, is they tried settle on a passive approach of no discrimination to anyone who tried to be a delegate. thedelegates had to reflect makeup of the state parties by gender, buy at the city, by race, by age. there were trying to get more women, my -- more minorities, more youth into the process. the party should simply strive for reasonable proportion and representation in those groups.
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the commission eventually adopted specific quotas, saying those were the basic gist of the reforms. >> do the reforms stick today? >> they very much do. ultimately, both parties have adopted these reforms. even though the republicans have been a little less successful in reaching out to minority voters, if you go to a republican convention, 50% of the delegates are going to be female. that was a radical idea back in
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1968. let me give you a couple of quick numbers to give you a sense of how things changed. in 1968, only 20% of the democratic delegates were women. in 1972, 40% were women. in 1972, 12%-13% were african-americans. there was a change in what the party looks like and it was very dramatic. >> scott farris, the impact today -- is there a long-term impact? we are heading into the 2012 presidential election with the iowa caucus coming up soon. >> reforms help non-establishment candidates get a foothold. it is a open process where if you have good ground and a lot of dedicated volunteers will show up at the caucuses and primaries, you can overcome the disadvantages. as republicans have followed suit, i believe this is the first year that republicans will have no winner-take-all
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primaries. if an insurgent candidate, newt gingrich is filling the role of the insurgent candidate this year. the establishment candidate is mitt romney. the irony is newt gingrich is benefiting from reforms first initiated by george mcgovern back in 1972. these reforms have broadened participation. they have stayed with us in both parties, much as the democrats. >> gary hart was george mcgovern's 1972 campaign manager. here is what he had to say about the democratic primary reform efforts. >> i think history will show that he helped save the democratic party simply by chairing the mcgovern reform commission, by his insistence on the democratic party truly becoming a democratic party.
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because of his efforts and the efforts of many of you, the convention in 1972, as interesting as it was, helped save the democratic party and helped open the doors for young people, women, minorities, and people who had, up to that time, been shut out. now, it is fashionable for people to say there is not much difference between the parties, but there really is. there is a necessity for a democratic party and the kind of democratic party george mcgovern envisioned and helped create. >> what is your reaction, jules witcover? to seeing gary hart talk about the reforms? >> he was certainly correct that mcgovern's role was a critical role. i go back to before 1968. i can remember in 1960 when john kennedy was running.
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he, his aide, and speech writer would get on an airplane, fly around, and visit governors and who were so empowered that you could pick up the nomination that way. not with the people, but with the officials and politicians. >> jules witcover, what was it like to see these new faces in 1972 and going forward at the conventions? >> it was very exciting. these people were into it more than some of the ones who had been to 20-30 conventions over their lifetime. they have their hands on the and new what was going to
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going tohat was there was a level of uncertainty that was injected by these new people, not only in voting for the nominee but the platform committee hearings that preceded the actual selection of the provincial nominee. >> scott farris, let me ask you about the short-term impact of these reforms. let's go to the general election. real briefly, if we could, in 1972, the reforms that he puts in place -- do they actually benefit him when it comes to voter turnout to beat richard nixon? >> it helped him get the nomination. he understood the new process because he chaired the reform. i do not think he tried to manipulate it to his benefit, he tried to be open and fair about it. he understood, and understood that something had fundamentally changed in the process and he was able to take advantage of that in terms of winning the
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nomination, whereas some of the others were playing with the older rules. they were caught off guard. his constituency still had not matured. senator mcgovern only got 37.5% of the popular vote in the election. democrats had not yet won over women. they had not gotten the youth vote the way they have today. if you look at today's democratic party, it has had a lasting impact. if you look at the coalition that mcgovern put together in 1972, minorities, women, the young, highly educated voters. that is the coalition that gave barack obama the presidency in 2008. this is the barry goldwater candidacy that led to the ronald reagan presidency in 1980. you can give george mcgovern quite a bit of credit for the barack obama presidency in 2008. it took a little bit longer for that constituency to meld. the constituency just wasn't ready in 1972. >> tonight's "contender," george mcgovern, the congressman and
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senator from south dakota, and the democratic nominee party president in 1972. let's get our viewers involved. our first call is from mike in the cutesy, new york. -- new york. >> mcgovern became the head of the middle east policy council after deciding not to run for president again in 1992. he submitted a proposal for president clinton calling on the united states to protect access to middle east oil. did president clinton accept the proposal? if so, what happened as it affects others? >> a pretty specific question. scott farris and jules witcover are here shaking their heads. i do not know if they know how to answer that question. scott farris, his legacy? >> he certainly was very interested in middle east affairs. got quite a bitident arafat.
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of grief. supporterery strong of israel, but he was also very outspoken in american politics. we are going to be talking more about mcgovern's post 1972 hunger.ecifically on but let's hear from gordon in your, illinois. caller: yes, i was a college student working for mcgovern. later hearing about the nixon ,rew and their dirty tricks they chose mcgovern as the weakest link and through those discredited the other
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major democratic candidates, and he felt that the republicans basically chose him. have you ever studied that? host: do you want to weigh in on that? is certainly it true in the 1972 campaign, there were a number of dirty tricks aimed at ed muskie. about setting up for mcgovern. mcgovern at the beginning of that year with such a long shot, it really would have been requiring clairvoyance on the part of nixon fell people to have a policy to make him the nominee. it was more they wanted to disappear muskie. thought he was the toughest candidate. they did a number of things, word in newreading heavyire -- a very, very
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french-canadian politician -- .hat he used certain slur words and also they had another scheme had ay the nixon campaign number of black voters call new york assets, urging people to vote for muskie, feeling that would backlash against muskie. these things all came out, but they really were not the reason muskie did not get the nomination. muskie's own campaign had problems that were just as troublesome to him as were mcgovern's. about edwill talk more muskie coming up in the primary of 1971 and the general election of 1972.
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but we want to peel back and talk about why george mcgovern would run in the first place. scott farris, what makes him decide to run for the presidency in 1972? mr. farris: it goes back to 1968 when he filled in for bobby kennedy and was the standard therefore his delegates because they wanted him to be a stand in for kennedy. he ended up participating in a and everyone thought mcgovern had won that debate. it was that moment that he realized he had presidential aspirations because he had gone on a national stage between two of the leading democrats in the country and more than held his own. he began considering a run at that point and decided fairly early in 1969 that he would be a candidate. he felt he with the right person to bring together these old irregulars and the new insurgents and create a democratic majority. also, personally just
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despised richard nixon. mcgovern rejected the construct of the cold war. he really resented it red baiters. he ran against a well-known anti-communist in south dakota. he had always despised him for how he had run against adlai stevenson in 1952. he relished the fight and it was a great incentive for him to run. host: in vietnam -- what is happening between 1968-1972 on that issue? issue? mr. farris: nixon said in 1968 he had a secret plan to end the war in vietnam. escalating the war in 1969 and 1970, most famously by having u.s. troops invade cambodia and try to disrupt supply lines. early in the nixon presidency, the war seem to be expanding, not winding down. of course, this really outraged the anti-war movement and gave mcgovern even more impetus to
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run against nixon. later as it came closer to the election, nixon understood he needed to start disengaging american troops and going through the process of what he called the them as a nation -- vietnamization of the war. so that by 1972, there were only a couple hundred thousand combat troops in vietnam. as mcgovern was making the decision to run, he thought nixon was escalating the war, not winding it down. host: 1971, the pentagon papers or first published. what is the impact of this? mr. witcover: the pentagon papers were not as revealing as they were said to be. a lot of things in the pentagon papers were known. it gave more credibility to what was at the time nixon's public failing about the protest of the vietnam war. i think the impression now is that the country was totally in uproar against the war in vietnam in the late 1960's.
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it really was not. it was very much split. you have the 1970 anti-war contest -- protests, the kent state shootings, those kinds of things. mr. witcover: you have these protests that nixon played very effectively on. there were just as many people who deplored the mess in the streets, the pictures of these wild-looking young people with their long hair, strange clothes. they offended mainstream america. so, the war was particularly effective with dealing with the democratic situation. it was a rallying point for voters and activists.
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nixon also made great use of the war by making slanderous remarks against people who demonstrated. he ran in 1968 and again in 1972 on a law and order agenda. he was going to protect the american people from these rallies who were starting fires and having rallies in the streets. that is why the war -- it is painted now that the vietnam war really built the protest. it did do that, but it also solidified opposition to the war to the advantage of richard nixon. host: and so, scott farris, all of this and the impact of the war on mcgovern -- what did it do? mr. farris: i think it caused
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him to lose perspective a little bit, to be honest. he was so horrified by the war and thought it was such a terrible mistake and made several trips to vietnam and had seen soldiers would lost limbs and crippled for life, as well as of thousands who died. he spoke again about the war in terms that were very strong, harsh, and uncompromising. he gave a famous speech before the u.s. senate in 1970 and said "this chamber reeks of blood." when he is that kind of language, it will energize the antiwar folks, but it does quiets a lot of voters who thought that he would withdraw american without any honor and maybe not worry about what would happen to the prisoners of war there. he was so passionate about war, he used the strongest possible language to describe it. he also wanted to give the american people a sense we had
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ownership of this war. they were partly culpable. this was not just the fault of the american -- of the president and the generals. this was american society, that we could not see what was wrong in vietnam. i think it hurt him. americans do not really want to hear their country and the military spoken about that way, the democrats'he image of being "anti military" is one they have tried to shake for several decades. farris, this was a motivation for running for president? his desire to win the war with the most important thing for him. when he did lose he said, "i feel so strongly about this war -- that we brought peace that much closer, this campaign was worth it.
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he felt very passionately that this was the wrong war. he thought vietnam was a mistake. he thought it was an anti-colonial war. he thought the u.s. had -- misunderstood it as a war of communist expansion. a war of communist expansion. host: the mcgovern campaign hired a documentary filmmaker, charles guggenheim, to create a series of short films about the candidate. here's a brief look at the guggenheim film. narrator: he was christened george stanley mcgovern. birthplace -- avon, south dakota. he grew up in mitchell and went to school there. but the most important lessons were learned at home. his mother, a gentle spirit. from his father, christian principles and hard work. his father had spent his boyhood in the illinois coal country , where the 14-hour days were measured out at 10 cents a bucket. but he found time to read
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the scriptures and decided to abandon the mines for politics. -- for the pulpit. in 1899, he was ordained a minister. reverend mcgovern built his last church in mitchell when george was five. as a boy, george had his father's love of history, but he would not be spared the troubles of his own time. [wind howling] the memory would live with them -- would live with him all his life. host: we are back at the mcgovern museum. tell us about george mcgovern. what through his life, starting early on influenced him, defines him? mr. farris: first of all, it is important to remember his father was a minister in the wesleyan methodist denomination.
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ofa very strict denomination the methodist church. restricts dancing. what george mcgovern got from his father was a strong sense of what is right and what is wrong to the point that he is often accused of not being moral, but moralistic. he got the notion of right and wrong and the notion of doing good. he wrote a lot of of the social gospel, how you apply christianity to social affairs. feeding the hungry, etc. he also interestingly was a very shy child, which would later at influence him. he had some teachers who at first thought he perhaps even had a learning disability and was slow. teachers realized he was a very intelligent lad, just very shy. they encouraged him to read in class, do more things in public. when he got to high school, he a teacher that was a history and social studies teacher and
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debate coach and he encouraged george mcgovern to go out for debate. it turns out he was an exceptional debater. he won a number of states and won a scholarship to go to wesleyan. he and his team won some national competitions. that early childhood formed him in terms of becoming a public figure. he cared a lot -- he was a good communicator, a good speaker, make good arguments, but also cared a lot about principles and public policy. host: and then world war ii. mr. farris: yes, he had a different teacher -- he had a gym teacher that told mcgovern of halting horse -- a horse. the teacher said he was a physical coward. that really stung mcgovern. he thought about it for a number of years. at dakota wesleyan, a classmate said he would like him to take
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flying lessons. mcgovern said he was afraid to fly, but he remembered what the gym teacher at sensible years before and decided to take pilot lessons. so he became a pilot. when japan bombed pearl harbor, mcgovern and his friends drove down to omaha and enlisted in the army air corps. he became a pilot of be-24 -- b-24 bombers. he was stationed in italy. he flew 35 combat missions, which is what you were required to fly before you could go home. he was an exceptionally skilled pilot. he was very much admired by his crew of 10. the b-24 was a hard place to fly. he had on three occasions -- i can call them crashes. he did not crash. but he had emergency landings. but every time he got his crew home safely and for that, he was awarded the distinguished flying cross. later in life after he developed a friendship with historian stephen ambrose, ambrose wrote "the wild blue" which was a chronicle of the mcgovern
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error experience as a way to highlight the air war during war ii. define him in it his presidential candidacy? mr. farris: he initially thought he was going to be a teacher -- he initially thought is going to be a minister. he came back from seminary thinking that he would follow in his father's footsteps. he found a lot of the sacraments and the parish visits just were not up his alley. he's which to history, got a doctorate degree. isalong with woodrow wilson one of only two men with phd's who were nominated for president. he had a background in eastern europe that led him to believe the cold war construct was all wrong. notsoviet union was attempting world domination, but
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was simply protecting its traditional sphere of influence, as it had done with imperial russia. he was born to be a professor, but he was also very interested in politics. he caught the eye of state democrats who asked if he would be interested in becoming the executive secretary of the south dakota democratic party. the democrats in south dakota at that point were in bad shape. there were 110 legislators in south dakota in 1933. two were democrats. it was quite a challenge. mcgovern thought it was a challenge worth taking. he slowly built up the democratic party. he recruited party workers, candidates, raised money, wrote platforms and speeches. the democrats got 24 seats in 1954. in 1956, mcgovern to the party -- took this party he helped build up and ran for congress. he defeated a two-term republican. he won again in 1958 when he defeated a former south dakota
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governor. then he made his first bid for the senate, lost. so, john kennedy felt that perhaps his candidacy had brought mcgovern down in south dakota, so he offered mcgovern a position to run a program in the kennedy administration. host: and so, we are talking about george mcgovern's legacy, his candidacy. we are going to delve into the primary run he made in 1971. before we do that, let's get in kirk from akron, ohio into the conversation. c-span, fork you, this wonderful series "the contenders." i just hope one day you will do one about the cabinet, too. anyway, my comment and my question is i heard somewhere -- i do not know what the truth is behind this -- but just moments before senator
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robert f. kennedy was assassinated in 1968 after winning the california primary, senator mcgovern was actually participating in a phone conversation with senator kennedy. i wondered if it has been revealed what the conversation was about and if you know anything about that phone conversation? host: jules witcover? mr. witcover: i have never heard that. i was in the hotel kitchen at the time robert kennedy was assassinated. i spent a great deal of time since then exploring all of the details of the time leading up to robert kennedy's death. i have never run across that story. -- i never came across that story. but i do know that in his hotel calls to ad make number of people to look over to what he expected to be the next
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phase of the campaign, which was to go to new york to campaign for delegates there. he did talk to many people. he may well have talked to senator mcgovern as well. because, if i'm not mistaken, it was also a primary in south dakota the same night. i have not heard he actually talked to him, but it is very possible. right, mike in california, good evening to you. thanks for joining us. caller: just a few things i want to throw out. "nightmare," and maybe the best book about watergate said ernie tricks were essential to who would be the nominee. ran ak it is likely nixon white backlash campaign rather than law and order. and finally, i'm from massachusetts, and at the time, we proudly festooned our cars
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with bumper stickers that said "don't blame me, i'm from massachusetts." that's all about to say. host: scott harris. mr. farris: mcgovern always resented the idea that he won the nomination because nixon got involved with so-called dirty tricks against ed muskie. he thought that muskie was a very weak campaigner. and he had not understood the rules had changed. what that muskie lost the nomination salute because of nixon's dirty tricks -- senator disliked that, but he acknowledged that the nixon campaign was always doing dirty things. they would find out press had been canceled and they couldn't -- their bus had been canceled and they could not get people to it from. they always seem to have someone
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holding up a hammer and sickle at the mcgovern rallies that they assumed was a nixon plant. he did not assume that was why he won the nomination. host: all right. next dollar. caller: i read "the wild blue" and only then learned about mcgovern's war record. i remember the 1972 campaign was the first actual time i could vote. but i don't recall mcgovern ever mentioning his war record, and i think it would have given his antiwar stance more credibility if he had. can you comment on that? host: john, before our guests come in on that, i want to show you and others what george mcgovern had to say about his experience as a world war ii bomber pilot. c-span sat down with him recently at his offices in south dakota.
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here is that and then we will talk about it. mr. mcgovern: i flew 35 missions in the beeb-24 bomber, which was the biggest one we had. and we were hitting the most heavily-defended targets in europe. they shot as to pieces on some of those missions. i wanted to bailout and i wanted my clue to bailout. but i knew those planes cost about $300,000. that is nothing by today's standards where you have a be one that costs a billion for one plane, but it was a lot of money then. so i was nursing those triple planes back to home base, and for that, i got the distinguished flying cross. it is, the
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distinguished flying cross in mitchell, south dakota at the mcgovern museum. we are live there for our series.ers" scott ferris, how does a war hero become an antiwar candidate, and why, as that caller said, does he not talk about it? mr. farris: there was debate about how much he should mention his war record. he did mention it from time to time. but he was encouraged by his staff to exclude it from his nomination acceptance speech. they thought it was incongruous -- thek about war rationale was that they could not be antiwar and discuss his war record. it would have been to his
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benefit if he had talked about it a little bit more because people got the mistaken idea that he was a pacifist who did not believe in using the armed services for any purpose. he endorsed the use of force in kosovo. he was not a pacifist, but it was a decision they fell the should not mention being an anti-war candidate. host: was it talked about, his war hero status? mr. witcover: not much. he had a slogan when he wound up his speeches late in the campaign about leaving war behind and coming home. another one of his slogans was "come home america." it is in the context of that that there were no references to his wartime experience. host: all right. aboutly, before we talk george mcgovern's primary run, let me get this call-in. jill, you are on the air. caller: thank you.
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i remember watching a program with george mcgovern and bob schieffer. they ran senator mcgovern talking about his friendship with president ford and he said in the end, he had voted for ford. and he said he discussed it with his family afterward and found they had all done that as well. i am aot sure because strong democrat. i wonder if that came into the information about senator mcgovern ever. host: scott ferris? mr. farris: he did have great affection for gerald ford. i don't know if you voted for him. he had problems with president carter. there were a couple reasons. president carter had not been very supportive of him in 1972. even though president carter basically borrowed the mcgovern strategy to get his nomination in 1976. he was also a little hurt that
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the magnitude of senator mcgovern's loss was be was a bit of a pariah in democratic circles. he was not giving -- given a starring role at the next convention. i am sure there were some hurt feelings. he worked with a number of republicans. he and bob dole partnered for almost an entire lifetime on the issue of ending a hunter in the -- ending hunger in the world. he was capable of working across the aisle. he was never an ideologue. host: george mcgovern, the world war ii hero, the congressman from south dakota, the senator from there decides to make a run for the presidency. having decided to run, mcgovern announces his candidacy from sioux falls, south dakota on january 18, 1971. here is a piece of the campaign film put together by charles guggenheim on mcgovern's decision to make that presidential run.
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>> this country was conceived by men who had a dream of human dignity and justice and concern for each other. if we begin now to match our policies with our ideals, and i believe it is yet possible that we will come to admire this country, not simply because we were born here, but because of the kind of great and good land that you and i want it to be and that, together, we have made. that is my hope. that is my reason for seeking the presidency of the united states. [applause] jules witcover, what is mcgovern's chances heading into the primary in 1971?
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mr. witcover: considered very slim. the was not a really dynamic personality. he was a very calm man. very soft-spoken. he lacked fire except when he talked about the war in vietnam. host: was he considered dull? some considered him a bit dull. his niceness was sometimes ridiculed, but it was genuine. when he ran in the first primaries, he was regarded basically as a weak replacement for robert kennedy because robert kennedy was so dynamic as a candidate. it was also because there is a -- muskie was considered almost a certainty to be the nominee at that time. he had been very impressive as humphrey's nominee in 1968. he was also a rather soft-spoken man most of the time, but he had
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a terrible temper that sometimes came through. that seldom happened with george mcgovern. host: so, who else was running and how they compare to george mcgovern? mr. witcover: as i recall, other senators, first by and fred harris -- but they were all bunched up together. it was considered -- it was muskie's nomination to lose. some of the things that happened in new hampshire that your other guest mentioned, including appearing to cry in a serious -- furious moment outside the local newspapers for things that had been printed about his wife. there was some dispute about whether he was actually crying or not. because it was snowing at the time, and muskie, himself, said
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he was not crying. nevertheless, that was the impression. histhere were other reasons candidacy began to collapse in new hampshire. one of the big ones was his position on vietnam. he could not make up his mind where he stood on vietnam.
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war veterans at a hospital. here is a little bit of that conversation. >> they love their country, there is a question about that. you are about halfway mad at it, are you not? >> when you lose control of your bowels', your bladder, york sterility whenever father a child, you'll never walk again for the rest of your life, you are 23-years old, you do not want to be a burden for your family -- to you know where you go from here? a nursing home. and you stay there until you die. nobody thinks of a disabled veteran or a disabled anybody except another disabled person. if you fall out of your wheelchair, the you know who is the first person to come to be some help? a guy in a wheelchair, not somebody who is walking. >> one of the unconscionable
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attacks of this day is what you just said -- people who are desperately in need of help cannot qualify for it under the present system. i love the united states, but i'd love it enough that i want to see changes made -- but i love it enough that i want to see some changes made. the american people want to believe in the government and their country. i want to provide the kind of leadership that would help restore that kind of faith. i do not think i can do it alone. of course i cannot. but the president can help set a new tone in this country. muskie in florida.
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wallace won the florida primary and muskie finished fourth. that was kind of the last nail in mcgovern at the
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convention in miami, joking about giving his speech at two 30 a.m. >> -- 2:30 a.m. >> chairman o'brien, chairman byrd, senator kennedy, senator eagleton and my fellow citizens, i am happy to join you for this benediction of our friday sunrise service. [applause] i assume that everyone here is control ofwith miny
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this convention and with my choice for vice president, challenged only by 39 other nominees.
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humphries supporters and have mcgovern -- that were half humphrey supporters and half mcgovern supporters. wednesday was the day they were supposed to submit their vice presidential nominees. people had been up all night. they did not have a short list
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the name just a few minutes before the deadline. by that time, he had angered un,
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under appreciated candidate. he was up against a candidacy, nixon's, that was very aggressive and destruction, and he made some mistakes in his own campaign.
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they did him in. without the conflicts of the campaignagleton. here is the former campaign aide frank explaining the choice. >> the problem was that we had a very tough road to the nomination. it was not clear until the second day of the convention because of an ugly fault -- because of an ugly fight involving california, that george mcgovern would get the nomination. that took a lot of time and concentration.
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it got kind of chaotic. there were three or four days in which to choose a vice president, two days, really. two days, two nights. we all got together and talked. we named names, through some names around. tom eagleton was, by all measurements, a good candidate. george mcgovern was from a small agricultural state in the north. tom eagleton was from a border state, a catholic with strong ties to labor. on key issues, he was in agreement with mcgovern. it looked like a pretty good fit. you have to remember that we did not have any fbi, any security agencies available to check anybody out. we assumed that tom eagleton who had run with nixon at this
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time, but first, let me show you a couple of campaign ads from this. >> one of the reasons i am disturbed by the president's $10 million secret election fund is that it indicates that there is something he is afraid to
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disclose. whether they hiding? i am perfectly willing -- what are they hiding? i am perfectly willing to publish to be donated every single dollar to my campaign. but the president is covering it up. it is the sort of thing that puts the tarnish on the whole nation. >> i can only say the thing that motivated might change -- might change -- my change was a year of collecting pure, unaffected fax. -- facts. >> i want to make this pledge to sammy and everybody here. whether you're young, old, black, white, i believe in the american dream.
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sammy davis believes in it. we have seen it in our own lives. years from now, i hope you can look back and say this was one of your best boats. thank you. down to the finest detail. that caution came out of his defeat in 1960 when he made the mistake of pledging to go to every state, and campaigned dawn to dusk. as a result of that, he looked terrible. we will all recall the debate he had with john f. kennedy, where
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he looked like he was going to expire. so, he and his brain trust decided that the best way to run richard nixon was to limit what he did and always have him at his best. that mcgovern difference was was running desperately. they knew that they were not catching on. they traveled widely. it was one of the first campaigns were jet planes were used extensively and they could go back and forth across the country in a day. just as humphrey had done when he lost two knicks in the first time, in 1968 -- lost to nixon,e
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raised a lot of hackles by instituting wage control. there was inflation. he began the americanization of the war in vietnam, bringing
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troops home to try to quell the anti-war demonstrations. he tried to counter his image as a pro-warmonger by going to china and establishing relations. he managed to orchestrate events so that his presidency reached its peak in 1972. his great accomplishments in office between president
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nixon and the special assistant for national security, henry kissinger. >> we suspect that president nixon will come out of this the winner with about 60% of the popular vote and somewhere between 4005500 or more electoral -- 450-500 or more electoral votes. >> i hope that in the next four years you will lead us to a time of peace abroad and justice at home. you have my full support in such efforts with best wishes to you and your gracious wife, pat.
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sincerely, george mcgovern. >> dr. kissinger and senator humphrey are speaking. it will be a few moments before we can get him. i have dr. kissinger. go ahead, please. >> hello, mr. president. i wanted to extend my warmest congratulations. >> we all knew it was going to happen. we got our 60%. >> one could not really be sure until we had seen. >> we got every state except massachusetts, and maybe minnesota. what a critic. did you hear that concession statement? he was very gracious at the beginning. he sent me a wire saying i look forward to working with you and
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your supporters for peace in the years ahead. i am not going to send in that kind of wire. would you agree? >> absolutely. he was in generous -- not generous, and worthy. -- unworthy.
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>> think of just the highlights of this fascinating life. pilot, a teacher, congressman, senator, first director of food for peace, author with senator dole of the food stamp program, courageous critic of the vietnam war, first and only person from south dakota so far to be nominated for president, united nations delegate under presidents ford and carter, advocate for disarmament and peace in the middle east. when i was president, united
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nations ambassador to the food and agriculture organization, recipient of the medal of freedom, and with senator dole, the inspiration for the school funding program. george did not tell you what happened with the $300 million. there are 130 million children in this world who never darkened a schoolhouse door. their idea was to say to poor kids across the world and to their parents, you can have one good nutritious meal a day no matter how poor you are, but you have to come to school to get it. after we passed that little bit the initiative in a multi- trillion dollar budget, schoolroom and around the world in the first year went up by more than -- school enrollment around the worldn, he had a
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lot of influence. >> thank you both. bu [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> we are not content with things as they are. we reject the view that people say, america, love it or leave it.
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