tv 1968 - America in Turmoil Presidential Campaign CSPAN August 7, 2018 4:52pm-6:24pm EDT
tonight, "landmark cases" presents an in-depth look at row v. wade. we'll hear from david savage discussing judge kavanaugh's nomination and the abortion issue. next on american history tv. from our series "1968: america in turmoil," a look at the presidential campaign. lbj, eugene mccarthy, george romney and nelson rockefeller and george wallace. our guests are pat buchanan who worked on nixon's campaign in 1968, and barbara perry, presidential studies director at the university of virginia's miller center. first, president lyndon b. johnson in a televised oval office address when he surprised the nation with his announcement
that he would not run for reelection. on the last evening in march 1968, the stage was set. shortly before 9:00 p.m. washington time, in the midst of last minute electronic preparations, president johnson put the finishing touches on his address to the nation. finally, with the reassuring presence of his family seated nearby, the president was ready to deliver one of the most important speeches of his entire life. a speech that would alter the course of world history. >> good evening, my fellow americans. tonight i want to speak to you of peace in vietnam and southeast asia. no other question so preoccupies our people. no other dream so absorbs the 250 million human beings who live in that part of the world.
no other goal motivates american policy in southeast asia. >> first, addressing himself to the continuing problem of vietnam, the president outlined plans for a unilateral deescalation of that conflict. >> tonight i have ordered our aircraft and our vessels to make no attacks on north vietnam except in the area of the zone where the continuing enemy build up directly threatens allied forward positions, and where the movement of their troops and supplies are clearly related to that threat. the area in which we're stopping our attacks includes almost 90% of north vietnam's population. and most of its territory. thus, there will be no attacks around the principal populated
areas or in the food-producing areas of north vietnam. even this very limited bombing of the north could come to an early end if our restraint is matched by restraint in hanoi. >> the president issued an appeal for unity among the american people. and went onto speak in moving words of the future he foresees america attaining. but it was in the final moments of the speech that he voiced the syllables which stunned the nation and reverberated around the world. to a disbelieving audience of countless millions, president johnson announced the decision that had been many months in the making. but only resolved within himself in the final hours of march. >> with americans' sons in the field far away. with america's future under
challenge right here at home, with our hopes and the world's hopes for peace in the balance every day, i do not believe that i should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office. the presidency of your country. accordingly, i shall not seek and i will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your president. >> that courtesy of the white house naval photographic unit as we look back 50 years ago here on c-span and c-span 3 "american history tv," 1968,
america in turmoil. we want to begin with the announcement by senator eugene mccarthy in november of 1967 to seek the democratic nomination. the tet offensive began on and richard nixon enters the race on february 1st and george wallace enters on february 8th. president johnson wins the new hampshire primary and against eugene mccarthy and a few days later, robert f. kennedy announcing here in office building two weeks later, president lyndon johnson stunning the nation that he will not seek re-election and dr. martin luther king assassinated in memphis, tennessee. hubert humphrey, the vice president, entering the race in 1968. senator robert f. kennedy winning the california primary, shot after midnight on the day of victory, and dies on june the
6th, 1968. richard nixon accepting the republican nomination in august of that year. later in august, hubert humphrey accepting the democratic nomination in chicago, amidst the riots richard nixon is elected president on november 5th, 1968. we want to welcome our guest, barbara perry from the university of miller center, and pat buchanan, who for the purposes of this discussion was a nixon aide in 1968. >> -- the nixon campaign. >> pat buchanan, let me begin by asking you about the announcement of lyndon johnson. where were you? >> at nixon's apartment, having a debate about a speech he was going to give about vietnam. we were having an argument. nixon was moving toward a more dovish position on the war, or about to, when we got word from cbs that lyndon johnson had asked for time. and sunday night.
so nixon was going to wisconsin the next day. he told me, pat, i want you to be at la guardia, the private terminal. when i came back from wisconsin, he was making an appearance at the primary, to brief me on what johnson said before the press gets to me. i'm sitting in a limousine at the tarmac at la guardia. nixon's african-american driver was there. he started shouting, i knew it was going to be happen, when lbj announced he was not going to run again. i got out of the limo and ran down towards the jet nixon had come in on. the press was walking towards the jet. i got on the plane and said, johnson is out, he's not going to run again. nixon said, i guess eight tit's year of the dropout. george romney had dropped out of new hampshire on him.
rockefeller had decided not to run in march. we drove to nixon's apartment and talked going in. i remember telling him i thought hubert humphrey would be a tougher nominee and i thought humphrey would get the nomination. >> he did not expect to challenge senator robert kennedy? >> he didn't think kennedy was going to win the nomination. i didn't either. >> barbara perry, the announcement of eugene mccarthy to enter the democratic race, who was he and why was his voice so important in the '68 campaign? >> mccarthy was the senator from the midwest. he had been a professor of economics and sociology. he was very professorial, some said aloof. he entered as the peace candidate, the anti-war candidate, and immediately got a coater e coterie of students to support
him, some of them until the hippie realm, shaved their beards and cut their hair and called themselves clean for gene. he was the intellectual candidate, the upper middle class candidate for the democrats. if you put the personality of gene mccarthy and lyndon johnson, they thought they would be running to get the nomination against the incumbent president, you couldn't have found two more different personalities. he was definitely the peace candidate, the anti-war candidate, in new hampshire and johnson drops out. >> you have to remember, it was political malpractice, johnson's name was not on the ballot. he won the race with 49% as a write-in. later it was discovered that the hard line new hampshire-ite 167s thought johnson had not been tough enough on the war. april 2nd, when they got to wisconsin, mccarthy wiped the
floor with johnson there and i think johnson's guys had polls and knew that was coming. >> they also knew that johnson was running at about 35% approval rating. between that and the tet offensive aftermath, it was not looking good. plus johnson worried he would suffer another heart attack in another term. he was really concerned. >> nixon announced on february 31st, we flew up secretly, he registered in nashua under the name benjamin chapman. so he announced february 1st, as you mentioned. february 2nd, it's a single column story in "the new york times." the big picture is devoted to the tet offensive. the saigon police chief has a small revolver next to the head of the viet cong and fired and killed him. eddie adams won a pulitzer for
that photograph. >> we talked about that last week, the full series available on our website, c-span.org. let's talk about richard nixon. he lost the presidency in 1960. he loses his bid for governor in 1962. the headline, the political obituary of richard nixon. he moves back to new york in the mid-60s. why did he run in 1968 and what was the state of the republican party in that year? >> in 1964, gold water was wiped out and nixon was the lead surrogate for goldwater. nixon was considered a split loser. he moves to new york. what he did is, i went to work for him, 1965-'66. nixon told me then, i said i want to get aboard early if you want to run for president. he said, i'll here you for one year. if we don't do well, the
nomination won't be worth anything. we went around for five weeks in 1966. nixon campaigned, paid for it himself, got his own plane. he must have been in 35 states. and what happens, it's one of the great comebacks. he sprung back, nixon helped pick up 47 seats in the house they got six governorships, greatest republican victory since 1946. tom evans came us to me and said, i had been an editorial writer in st. louis, he said, i don't think you're going back to st. louis. i said, i don't think either. nixon declared a six-month moratorium on politics. he said, i've been in the limelight. he had gotten into a straight head-up battle with johnson, johnson attacked him in the white house. and so nixon pulled himself complete out. one of the reasons, i said, sir, romney was running first in the polls, he was ahead of johnson and ahead of nixon.
i said, is it wise to give him all that space and time while you're going nowhere? so nixon says, you know, i think i need to get out of the public arena for a while, let them chew on him for a while, which meant the press. and the press went after romney because he was the only one out there. by mid-1967, and especially i think it was around september 1, where romney made his famous statement, when i was over in vietnam, i was brainwashed. george romney, i was brainwashed by the diplomats and military. i remember gene mccarthy in character with him, caustic fellow, he said in romney's case you wouldn't need a complete brainwashing, a light rinse would have done the job. >> along those lines, a very young pat inbuchanan on the campaign trail with richard nixon. we'll watch this. >> it seems to me to be a pretty
magnificent turnout. at least we've had somewhere in the neighborhood of 6, 700 go by already. i would estimate you'll probably have 3,000 before the afternoon is over. >> are these people all -- are they a mixture, what do you think? >> i couldn't say, looking out here, you couldn't tell a republican or a democrat or an independent. it's a good cross-section of people in manchester, frankly. >> i wonder how many of these people you think will [ inaudible ]. >> i don't know how many going in, but we all hope they'll be going out. >> there you are. there's three, how's that? >> thank you. >> all right. how are you doing?
are you a friend of dave? >> nixon, all the way. >> this fellow is the good chairman up here. >> good fellow. >> you really think so? >> i really think so. he's a good guy. >> all right, good. as a matter of fact, we've got -- a lot of people said he's too young to be chairman. i said well, we need a fellow that's a go-er. would you agree? are you on his payroll? >> no. i'm retired. >> you were in the service? >> i was in the first world war. >> you were? the big one, right? >> eight years. >> what division were you in? >> the 74th division. heavy artillery. >> those are the 75s you used. >> we trained on the big guns.
>> the coast artillery, sure. >> the coast artillery. >> well, it's hard to realize, we've had so many wars since then, we thought that was the last one, then we had world war ii and then korea and now we've got vietnam. let's hope we can get rid of them, huh? >> let's do something. >> let's do something, right. good to see you. >> nice to meet you. >> from february 1968, campaigning in new hampshire. and pat buchanan, you sound the same. >> well, thank you. that was at st. anselm. we had 3,000 people at st. anselm. the president and mrs. nixon went all through the receiving line. there was a sad anecdote, the fellow that was the chairman of our campaign in new hampshire was dave sterling. very young guy. we picked him because out of all these princes in new hampshire, we didn't want to antagonize they of them. we got this young state
legislator. he died a few years later in a failed automobile accident. he did a great job up there. i will say this, our campaign in '68 with nixon, we studied '60, teddy white's book, how nixon overdid it, ran himself gao the ground, so did jack kennedy. we would bring him to new hampshire for two or three days, fly him down to key biscayne where he could relax with bibi rabozo. that event at st. anselm, we were whipping everything to come out and look how many came out voluntarily, et cetera. but we had a terrific crowd, 3,000 people. that was the kind of event nixon wanted to do. >> and barbara perry, that exchange with a world war i veteran and he makes mention of vietnam, clearly that was the driving issue of 1968. can you explain what was going on here in this country, how americans were viewing the war,
and why they were turning against president johnson? >> we mentioned the tet offensive, that was in january of 1968. i'm glad there are no videos of me from 1968. but i will say that i was a 12-year-old in the sixth grade. my brother was ten years older than i and graduating from college, small catholic college in louisville where we grew up that spring. he was told by the draft board, you'll graduate may 15th, you'll be drafted by june 1st. and my dad was a world war ii vet. my brother was patriotic. there was no way he was going to deny going to the draft. but in the end he served for four years in the air force. but that was the talk around our dinner table, because he was at college in his hometown. and here i was, a 12-year-old, soaking this up. what was happening in america was boys like my brother, girlfriends and their boyfriends, knew they were going. fathers were going.
the draft was, you know, up and running. and we were going to end up with over a half million people serving the military in vietnam. and a thousand were dying every week. so the campuses were in an uproar. the streets were in an uproar. we didn't talk about race but we need to add that to it as well. the country was coming apart, and particularly over this issue, and particularly with the students over the draft and the casualty figures that were coming out of vietnam. >> 202 is the area code. 8000 for democrats, 8001 for republicans, and we have a line for independents. joining us, barbara perry and pat buchanan. you wanted to respond. >> yeah, i had a brother who went over to vietnam with the 101st airborne. he broke his foot in his first jump and he went over in january just in time for the tet offensive. he was over there for that year.
and you're right, even before then, when i was in st. louis as a journalist in 1965 at "the global democrat," i was a teacher speaking on behalf, in favor of johnson and kennedy's policies. the demonstrations, it wasn't very violent by then, but there was real hostility, especially on the elite campuses. and they had sds march, and i would go down to talk to some of those kids before they became violent. and you're right, it was -- the war was the major issue going on. but i will say, after dr. king was assassinated, i had riots in 100 cities, my hometown of d.c. was partly burned down, 7th street, 14th street, they had armed troops in the city. the law and order and the war in it vietnam became the issues. >> that's my next question.
to try to put this in perspective, you had president johnson who narrowly won the new hampshire primary on march 12th. then you had senator kennedy entering the race on march the 16th. lbj drops out on march 31st. then dr. king is assassinated on april 4th, all within a four-week period. >> it's hard to comprehend for people now, to be able to see what was compacted in a month's time. the country seemed to be coming apart. again, sort of a personal anecdote, my dad, who was a lifelong democrat, began saying, i'm really fearful for the country now, i'm fearful about what's happening in the streets, and voted for nixon in 1968 because he thought he was the law and order man, he was the man who would bring law and order back to our streets and bring our country together, interestingly enough. and the other thing about vietnam that we talk about the tet offensive, the united states
won the tet offensive. but it was the offensive of the north and the viet cong in the south. and to see that movement into the south of the north vietnamese regulation and the vee viet cong, pat is telling these great stories about how the nixon administration prior to going into office, how the nixon campaign knew how to use media by 1968. and people were seeing this in their living rooms. >> cronkite, i believe it was in february, he had gone over to vietnam, and he came back and said we're mired in a stalemate. i think many in the american elite media really had broken on the war, had decided it was an unwinnable war. they tended to move on that point, by the time nixon took over, they would move into the camp of the demonstrators.
we always thought of them as the lives of the demonstrators in 1969. there was something else you didn't have in there, it was stunning for us, dwight chapin, you had a picture of him there, when nelson rockefeller was going to announce for president and nixon told us, he didn't like to watch these on television himself, he said, you guys watch, and tell me what he said, and nixon would get our reaction. i went in and said, rockefeller is not running, he's sort of dropped out. that's where nixon got his statement, it was the year of the dropout. all of a sudden we had this clear path to the nomination. to your point, you've got to realize that the revolution in 1968 was largely contained in that gigantic fdr coalition inside the democratic party. george wallace was a populist southerner, a tough one,
pro-segregation. he was ripping the basis of the democratic party apart. humphrey and johnson were by then the center of the party. bobby kennedy moved dramatically to the left. eugene mccarthy, humphrey, all three were going to be represented in chicago. governor agnew brought in reporters and said he was for rockefeller, the citizens for rockefeller, he headed it up, announced it. he calls in reporters when rockefeller is going to announce and he's going to have a major role in it. and when rockefeller never called him and went out and said i'm not running, agnew was left with egg all over his face. and as someone wrote, we caught him on the first hop. nixon was right on the phone,
come on up, governor, talk to us. he came on up. you'll get to it i'm sure, but agnew was recorded -- he ran against mahoney in '66. you know, your home is your castle, a democrat who opposed open housing. agnew supported it. so agnew was seen as something of a liberal governor, except for the riots where he was very, very hard line. that's one of the reasons he wound up on the ticket. >> i was just going to say, rockefeller thought he still might have a chance at the convention and was going around to governors saying support me. he went to agnew and he said, i'm not doing this again, fool me once, shame on me. >> he did get one governor, governor shaffer of pennsylvania. jules whitcover was covering us then. there was a beer commercial in those days that if shaffer's the one beer to have if you're having more than one. >> let's go to leo in illinois,
democrats line here at the table. barbara perry. >> yes, good morning. thank you for taking my call. i want to thank mr. buchanan for the way you give us american history. i was a student in high school at the time. when we understand the importance of this country having been created, and it feels not just with right but with compassion, and gratitude that america stands as a dove of freedom. thank you, mr. buchanan, and thank you, ms. -- i appreciate everything. >> thank you for the call. comment, not a question. response? >> i'll comment. to that very optimistic view of 1968, and it is one that my colleague at the miller center, mike nelson, also a political scientist, shares. he wrote a book called "resilient america" about 1968,
rather than focusing on the fact that we were coming apart. pat has already explained what was happening in the democratic party, the democratic party was coming apart. the new deeal coalition was coming apart. riots on the streets and the campuses. yet there is a resilience in the government that we were able to survive and move forward. >> pat, in an interview with james jones, a long time aide to lbj in his mid- to late 20s, he said he traveled with president johnson, went to vice president humphrey's apartment, told him to read the speech, said he wasn't going to run for reelection. humphrey was shaken and said -- the president said if you're going to run you need to start now. humphrey reportedly said i lost to one kennedy and i'm going to lose to another. and i mentioned that because vice president humphrey did not announce until april 27th, almost a month after lbj announced he would not seek
another term. >> it could have been -- we felt, for example, rockefeller, rockefeller didn't get in because nixon would have crushed him in all the primaries. humphrey might have delayed 'til then. to me, anyhow, bobby kennedy was not jack kennedy. he didn't have the charm, the charisma, the centrism. he had moved to the left, was anti-war, very sharp endged. i always felt that even after california when bobby kennedy won, that when they got to chicago, that humphrey would take it, that humphrey -- he had the machine put together for him, he had the president behind him, conlnolly and all these folks. i did not know that he was that apprehensive that he could not beat robert kennedy. >> it's a what-if, we know. >> when bobby kennedy died on june 6th, hubert humphrey had
already amassed over 500 delegates, robert kennedy 393, eugene mccarthy 258. humphrey had labor, he had the rank and file of the party. it's unlikely that even if robert kennedy had lived, he certainly would have been beaten gene mccarthy at the convention. also remember how devastated he was that johnson wasn't going to run. i understand that meeting after johnson announced, johnson went before he announced and went to that apartment to tell him, he was in tears about it. he also had that ambivalence that he wasn't going to bash the president he was serving. of course that's in the end in part what caused humphrey to lose the race. >> just down the street in the russe russell senate office building is where senator robert f. kennedy make the announcement on march 16th, 1968.
>> there has been speculation mccarthy had the courage to go into new hampshire. >> i don't believe that i could -- >> couldn't hear the question. >> you mean i have to repeat that? a lot of nasty things. the question was whether -- the charge has been raised whether this is opportunistic, my coming into the contest at this time after senator mccarthy had gone into the new hampshire primary. as i said, i've spoken on these issues and these questions for a number of years and how i feel about them. i felt -- and i think it was generally accepted if i had gone into the primary in new
hampshire, if i had won the primary in new hampshire or done well in the primary in new hampshire, it would have been felt at that time that this was a personal struggle. it would have been written in the press that this was a personal struggle. every time i have spoken on vietnam over the period of the past several years, every time i have spoken on what i think needs to be done as far as the cities are concerned, it's been put in the context of a personal struggle between myself and president johnson. therefore we would get away from what the issues are which divide this country. i think the new hampshire primary established that the division that exists in this country, the division that exists in the democratic party, are there. and i haven't brought that about. what has brought that about is what president johnson, the policies that are being followed by president johnson. now, as far as what is happening at the moment, i can't believe that anybody thinks that this is a pleasant struggle from now on or that i'm asking for a free ride. i've got five months ahead of me as far as the convention is
concerned. i'm going to go into primaries. i'm going to present my case to the american people. i'm going to go all across the country. >> pat buchanan, again, that was four days after the new hampshire primary and two weeks before lbj dropped out. >> the allegation of opportunism was really in the air on robert kennedy there. when he got into it, i remember murray kempton, a writer at "the new york post," he said he's coming down from the hills to shoot the wounded, it proves st. patrick did not drive all the snakes out of ireland. it was very rough on bobby kennedy. people forget bobby kennedy was ruthless on lbj in the two weeks before lbj resigned. he accused johnson of appealing to the darker impulses of the american spirit. i've got a memo i sent to nixon, i said, this is astounding how ruthless he is on the president, because we assumed the president is going to stay in. of course mr. nixon said, keep
gathering that, we've got better quotes than that. i think nixon believed more than i did that we might wind up with robert kennedy as the candidate and you would have another kennedy run. again, as i said, i always thought that humphrey was the candidate who had great depth inside the left wing of the democratic party from that '48 convention, he was mr. civil rights. he had put the civil rights act on the floor of the u.s. senate and run it through for lbj. he had labor. he could bring together the anti-war groups, as eventually he did, along with the center of the democratic party. wallace groups in the south, the deep south, was gone. >> robert from frostberg, maryland, go ahead, please. >> good morning, mr. buchanan and lady, as well as you, mr. scully. i'm a vietnam veteran. and i don't think mr. nixon gets the credit he deserves, even though i voted most of the time
with democrats, i think nixon was a very good president. but what overshadowed his goodness as a president was the vietnam war, watergate, and his personality complexes. but some of the decisions he made with civil rights and other issues, epa, nixon was a very good president. just those three things overshadow his presidency. >> thank you for the call. barbara perry? >> well, we now look back at nixon, and nixon i think thought of himself in many ways as sort of a moderate republican. and he was viewed in those days, in 1968, as a moderate republican. he could be viewed in the center between someone like reagan, we haven't talked about his entrance into the mix, but i'm sure we will, and rockefeller on the left side of the party. so when we look back at richard nixon's almost 2 1/2 term -- 1
1/2 terms in office, we can see the things he did that people now on the liberal side say good for him. >> i would call nixon a progressive republican, in that tradition. certainly domestically, he inherited the vietnam war, obviously, after five years, there were 31,000 dead when nixon came into office. but the gentleman said he was for nixon although he didn't vote for him. but he's exactly right, the american people agreed with the gentleman. richard nixon won 49 states in 1972, won over 61% of the vote, i believe, than senator mcgovern, who was an anti-war candidate. giving the vietnamese a chance to survive on their own, by and large, even though it was protested by hundreds of thousands in the streets here, was a policy that was supported by the american people and obviously rewarded in 1972 with
a landslide. >> you mentioned ronald reagan, a first term governor in california in 1966. he traveled to iowa in the fall of 1967. here is what governor reagan said back then. >> there would be one way to make sure crime doesn't pay. let government run it. i remember way back in 1964, when they said all the way with lbj. now we know what they meant. [ applause ] he has his troubles. there's bobby kennedy. bobby has him so nervous about the upcoming convention he's thinking of putting the country in his wife's name. [ applause ] but bobby was just trying to be helpful. he said he wanted a johnson/humphrey ticket but he didn't say where to.
every time he offers to help, a voice from the white house says, please, bobby, we would rather lose it ourselves. he's one of those rare people, bobby is, who can always say exactly the right thing at the right time to the wrong person. if it seems i'm picking unduly on the opposition, please note that i'm picking on the leadership of the democratic party, because i'm sure that there are millions of fine patriotic members of that party who are deeply disturbed with what has taken place in the nation's capital, as we moved from 1960 and the new frontier to the great society. they know that the great society is not the wave of the future. it's the end of an era, a dismal rehash of the methods and language and philosophy of the past. >> from october 1967. pat buchanan, vintage ronald reagan.
>> listen, i'm honored to have worked for the gipper as director of communications many years later but that was the candidate i was most afraid of in the republican primaries. it wasn't nelson rockefeller. it was the possibility that ronald reagan would get into the race, given his personality, conservative views, the likability of him, that he could really stampede the old goldwater delegates and really pull the nomination away from richard nixon. i have an believed rockefeller could get it after what he did to barry goldwater in 1964. republicans would have walked out if rockefeller had been nominated. >> explain the reagan candidacy or possible candidacy in 1968. what was he thinking? was he on the ballot? was he a serious contender for the white house? >> sure. what's fascinating about him from that clip particularly, as pat said, the facility he had with the audience and as a speaker. of course that goes back to his days as an announcer for baseball where he was getting the baseball game over the wire
but he was explaining it as if he was at the game. so he had a great facility for telling anecdotes and jokes, not to mention he was a hollywood actor. he represented the country in that sense, he made this journey from a new deal roosevelt democrat, the head of the screen actors guild, the most hollywood union there is, a pro-union man, to becoming more conservative as he worked for ge and was out on the banquet circuit for general electric. that's where he picked up this facility for the banquet speech and telling the quip. it's clear that he is the real heir to goldwater. that great speech that reagan gave in 1964 supporting goldwater. he ends up then in '68 as this right wing challenge to richard
nixon. >> i believe, and, you know, because of the letters of nixon and reagan which i've got copies of, that there was a deal cut at bohemian grove in 1967, where nixon and reagan talked, where nixon told reagan, look, give me the first shot at romney and the liberal establishment in new hampshire, and if by wisconsin i haven't succeeded really well, then you come in, because there's a lot of exchange of rockefeller tried to have a meeting with reagan in new orleans, came up to his bedroom or something where he was staying at the hotel, knocked on the door, came in, reagan was writing nixon and his people were calling nixon saying, we didn't put this together. that's my belief, he gave nixon that first shot. but there were reagan people, they put him into oregon. they sent a film out there. he got 22% in oregon, we got 70. rockefeller got 5% of the vote out there in oregon, in the
primary. 28th of may. >> but their hope was rockefeller and reagan, perhaps they could draw enough delegate votes away that if nixon didn't win on the first ballot, right, in miami beach, that maybe they could -- people started going to rockefeller, reagan people would come to nixon. we were a good second ballot bet as well. >> did richard nixon consider ronald reagan as his running mate even though they were both from california? >> let me tell you, we had staff up there in new york, and for a while, in those days, you couldn't close the six-point gap. at some points nixon was behind humphrey in the polls by six points. and there was a number of us got together and sent nixon a memo saying you've got to put reagan on the ticket. ray price and i got in a violent argument at montauk point over vice president. there was talk of lindsey, even though he was from the same
state. but whether nixon was going to have to make -- roll the dice and make a choice, a dramatic choice, and if he were going to do that, we thought it should be reagan. once the polls came out showing nixon ahead, then you go with the moderate safe choice like spiro t. agnew, a good centrist. >> 1968, year in turmoil. our guests, barbara perry, university of virginia, and pat buchanan, syndicated columnist, presidential candidate himself, and a nixon aide in 1967 through 1968. tony, thank you for waiting. >> yes, i have a question or a comment and a question directed to pat buchanan. i've long held a belief that had nixon won in 1960, he would have been a better candidate or a better president than he wound up being in 1968. and had he won in 1960, what
does pat buchanan think nixon would have done during his presidency following his election in 1960? >> thank you, tony. another what-if. >> it's hard to know. jack kennedy's great moment was the cuban missile crisis. i don't know how nixon would have handled that. nixon was more of a small "c" conservative. he would not have launched the bay of pigs, if he had, he would have made sure it worked. of course there would have been no great society if nixon were a two-term president. of course as you mentioned, a lot of what nixon did was very progressive. when he got in, in his mid-60s, mid-50s, he did not revere the great society at all. >> let's add, pat, another to your what-if, that is, what if nixon had met with khrushchev in
vienna in 1961? it would have had a different outcome than the bay of pigs, although it was an eisenhower plan, that nixon knew about but couldn't go public with in the 1960 campaign. wouldn't it have been interesting to see nixon and kruschev in vienna in 1961? historians think because kennedy didn't have such a good outing with kruschev, that helped to precipitate the cuban missile crisis. >> exactly. then game the missile crisis. kruschev, having met nixon in the kitchen in 1959, did not like nixon at all. it wasn't gary powers, but we had two other pilots that had gone over russian territory and khrushchev told folks he didn't release them in 1960 so he could help kennedy defeat nixon. he didn't want to do something that nixon could claim credit for. i think you're right. i think kennedy misjudged --
excuse me, khrushchev misjudged kennedy as soft and weak. kennedy told james reston, he beat the hell out of me, in that meeting with khrushchev. khrushchev took the measure of him as weak and made a grave mistake. >> what was richard nixon's reaction on the night that robert f. kennedy wonka can caa and was assassinated? >> it was 3:00 a.m. in the east, i got a call from headquarters, jeff bell, who just died, a young aide to nixon, ran for senate, he was in his mid-20s. he called me at my apartment, i was asleep, he woke me up and said, bobby kennedy's been shot. i called nixon, he said i'm already up, trudy and david had been watching the race, they had woken him up. it was amazing, one week before that, i was in oregon when nixon
won, may 28th, he swept it, as i mentioned, 70%. he went down to dinner with pat nixon. i went out to the front door with shelley, my girlfriend at the time, because bobby kennedy was coming up from california to concede the race. we saw bobby get out of the car with teddy white, he had the dog with him. i went down to the room to watch him concede that. and i remember telling folks there that that was a bobby kennedy i hadn't seen. he was at his most gracious. the concession speech to gene mccarthy was just very -- it was everything you would expect. and he said, now let's get on to california. >> think how hard that was for him to give that speech, the first kennedy ever to lose an election. >> i've read later he was very down about it, he said maybe i just can't win these, and i can't win the presidency. eugene mccarthy, there was no better state for gene than
oregon. >> what was going through the country after the assassination of senator kennedy? >> horrible shock, as you can imagine. and just imagine this, just two months after martin luther king's assassination. here our political leaders, our social activists, are being gunned down. and bobby kennedy, ironically, had been the person to rise up on that april 4th night, 1968, indiana iiaa i indiananapolis, going to speak to an african-american segment of indiananapolis, he's off-the-cuff, he has no script, he says our thoughts and prayers are with the king family.
indiananapolis is the only major city that doesn't go up in flames that night. his mother said, if this had been a work of fiction, that this family would lose two of its sons running in politics, running for a presidency and in the presidency, she said i wouldn't have believed it, it was incomprehensible, that level of violence. >> dave from northport, new york, thank you for waiting. go ahead, please. >> hello. i just want to say thank you to mr. buchanan for all the hard work and everything he's committed his life to. i used to enjoy watching him on mclaughlin, that was a great show. i would like to ask two quick questions. maybe more towards current events. i was curious, when you look at the vietnam war, and some of the
bicker mistakes that we made there, are we making -- this is to pat, sorry -- are we making some of those same mistakes in afghanistan, we've been there for 17 years. also, pat, i'm curious about what you think about the situation with [ inaudible ]. >> dave, you're breaking up. but we get the essence of the question, thank you. >> i think we already made the mistake in the middle east, frankly, that we made in vietnam, was we went in without thinking through what the end of this intervention would be. the idea that we could turn afghanistan into a sort of a quasi western country, or that once you overthroug overthrew tn iraq, i agree with the late bill
odom, i'm sure you've had him on c-span, the general, who said the movement into the middle east militarily is the worst diplomatic blunder in american political history. >> because of the vietnam war, barbara perry, when did president johnson begin to think he would not serve another full term? >> i think it's after the tet offensive that he realizes, even though, as i say, our forces, the u.s. military forces, won that battle, i'll use a crudity that is easy to find among johnson' comments, he said if we pull back and halt the bombing, and remember, that speech he gave withdrawing from the race was also to announce a halt to the bombing of the north, but he said later on, he had to restart it in the summer, but he said, i pulled back in vietnam, he said, ho chi minh drives a truck up my ass.
so he couldn't find the answer, because there was no answer. between that and what he's seeing on the campuses, the students circling the white house, chanting every day and every night, hey, hey, lbj, how many kids did you kill today, and the answer was a thousand americans were dying a week until the rice paddies of vietnam. so i think the combination of that, the combination -- i think he says genuinely in that speech, look, i don't want to be taking time out on the political stump when i have all these other problems for the country that i need to address. and again, the personal issue that johnson men in his family died young. he had already had two serious coronaries in the 1950s. and indeed he barely lived to just after what would have been his second term, his second full term. he died in january of 1973. so imagine what the stress of being in that office for another four years would have done. he could well have died in office. >> george is next, joining from us titusville, florida,
republican line. go ahead, please. >> good morning, thank you for c-span. i volunteered for the draft in '68. i know the focus of the show is on '68 and the turmoil that occurred there. my question is, 50 years from now, i think you could be doing another show honor 2018, 2019, perhaps the trump presidency, and the turmoil that this is creating. in '68 i think we had some sort of consciousness throughout the nation of the constitution, the united states of america, yeah, they were in the colleges, you had columbia and all of that, but there was more -- there was more intelligence about it. and there was a lot of emotion. today, as i look at the march on washington, sorry to say this, but it's the march of the know-nothings.
they have a lot of emotion but they have very little intelligence. everything is phrases and -- so i would like pat to comment, i wasn't one of your pitch fork people. >> he forgives you. >> george, thank you. we'll get a response. thanks for the call. >> thanks very much. i agree with the gentleman. i mentioned i was in the teach-ins at washington university in 1965. and when i went out there, the young people questioned me, they knew the history of vietnam, back with the french, before then, what they were doing, geneva. they were extremely intelligent. later on i went out and spoke at kent state and they were just emotional. i agree with him about yesterday, maybe it's the film that was taken out, but the kids seem full of passion and emotion and caught up, and not a great
deal of thought, frankly. and i can understand the passion in the immediate aftermath of that killing in broward county. but so much passion, as though we can wave a magic wand and put an end to these school killings. and we can't do it. the gentleman says -- i think the generation does, and you can never know exactly, but the generation i think of the 1960s, the early to mid-60s, was intelligent in a lot of ways. even on the liberal side, it was mature, it had ideas. some of it, like the crowd at columbia, mark penn and his friends that helped us, i put out a statement that i think -- denouncing them for revolutionary takeover of our institutions and it got 95-5 pour in our polls. >> i think we should thank the caller for service and for
volunteering for the draft. my brother is a vietnam vet, i'm very supportive of those veterans. but i'm always leery, especially as a teacher and long time professor of american government, it's a sign of aging, i think, to look back to a golden age or a sign to say, oh, this new generation doesn't know anything. i think what this new generation knows is they do have passion, of course, those, as you say, who went through that horror in florida several weeks ago. they also know social media. they know how to organize. so they know how to be civically engaged. i think we did have better civic education that would have taught the baby boomers. they were also directly impacted en masse and they needed to know what was happening, they needed to know their rights because they were subject to the draft or their friends or family were subject to the draft. but i do have hopes for this generation. i'm glad they're taking part, i'm glad they're civically engaged. i would like a little bit more education. >> let me say, in '68, i don't think we can go back to '68, because what took place wasn't
only this political revolution. nixon putting together this new majority, the beginnings of it, with the wallace vote, pulling off the catholics from humphrey. but socially, culturally, morally, racially and every other way, there was a huge cultural revolution going on in those years, which i think has ultimately prevailed in a way in the society and created divisions which exist and endure to this day. while today is much less -- it's not as violently as ' at '68, ws horrendously violent in this country, i think those divisions have endured and gone through several generations. we've got a country, it's hard for me to see how it ever comes together again. the way those of us who grew up in the eisenhower and jfk era, i was a critic, editorial writer taking on jfk.
i read him then, i was a tough editorial writer, they were very mild. we disagreed about the area redevelopment act or something. >> what happened to senator eugene mccarthy after the assassination of robert kennedy? >> what happens to him, i list it out, where he stood on the delegate count. at the moment robert kennedy had won the california primary and sadly then was assassinated. he was running a distant third. so he became disaffected in the race. it became clear as they got close and her closer to chicago, that humphrey had the rank and file of the democrats. he had the party bosses. he had mayor daley on his side. and that gene mccarthy was not going to win the nomination. and in addition to that, we mentioned george mcgovern. george mcgovern was drafted by pro-kennedy forces. even though robert kennedy was
gone, there was another person in the race. he became rather embittered by what happened to him in the race and he was -- >> he didn't endorse humphrey until the end of the race. >> that's right, >> when i ran against the president, in new hampshire i ran into gene mccarthy and i was going to new hampshire, he said don't worry pat, when you get up there you know don't have to win, you just have to beat the points spread. >> larry from houston, texas on the democrats line. >> yeah. i'm also a veteran, and i think the thing that caused nixon to win is because he had a cause that all my friends and a couple of them died in vietnam, as a result of it. and what it was was that the draft just turned everybody away from the thought that we were going to have anything other than a war for the rest of our lives. >> thank you, larry.
>> you know, in the draft, when i went to work with nixon, i was -- i had come out, decided that you're going to have to do away with the draft, because the country was coming apart. and secondarily, because, because we were beginning to draft people who basically, in the barracks would have been seditious, they were so anti-war. they were so anti-military at the time, that in order to fight the war, future wars, you're probably going to have to end the draft. and i told -- and i -- and nixon, i've got a memo, nixon talked to eisenhower. so i wrote nixon a memo and i said, people are liable to say, we're just doing this in order to let folks that are against the war not have to serve. and that's a bad thing. and nixon wrote on it, ike
thinks so too. so ike did not want that draft ended. i'll tell you who also pushed for it into the draft, a libertarian who joined us in '67, martin anderson, who was a young nixon aid, one of the young men around nixon, as i was then, steve. >> john from austin, texas, go ahead, pleads. you're next. >> uh, yes. thank you for both of you, the panelists, for the discussion today. it's very good. i've got two quick questions. the first one is, how do you view the democratic party now versus 1968? it just seems to me that a lot of people who don't really love this country have taken over, and the leadership of the democratic party. my other question is a what if question. i usually stay away from what if questions, but with the two panelists today, i think it's appropriate to ask. and the what if question is, how do you think things would have worked out had reagan been elected president in 1968 instead of 1980?
>> john, thank you. let's take the democratic party. barbara perry? >> sure. to pat's point a few moments ago, i think we come out of 1968 so polarized, and to pat's point about now, i think that polarization is ossified within our system and within the parties. and so you don't see the big tent parties that we had had in this country, for so many years, because we only have two major parties. so they tended to be big tent parties, maybe not in their primaries, necessarily. but typically they would take in people from different parts of the political spectrum. and we see that polarization, i think, to this day, certainly in the democratic party and the republican party. i don't accept that people in the democratic party, leaders or rank and file, are unpatriotic or un-american. i don't see that at all. they just have a different view of the america that they want to lead or that they support. >> and a follow-up on the state of the democratic party in 1968. how strongly was president johnson supporting hubert
humphrey? was he focused on politicsed, or was his focus on vietnam? >> well, the problem for johnson was that even if he had supported him to the hilt, he couldn't go out and campaign for him, because, first of all, it was too dangerous. the secret service did not want him to go, for example, on college campuses. which was another reason why he thought, i can't run myself. so he was not able to go out on the stump and do much campaigning for him. i think you might say, maybe as much as eisenhower didn't go out full-throatedly for nixon in 1968. so johnson, i think, was supportive. but he also had that tension with humphrey and humphrey had tension with him over the war. >> and pat buchanan, ronald reagan, 1968, a what if question. >> he would have gone for victory in vietnam. i think he would have ended the bombing of johnson. one thing he did do, i think it
was on october 31st, declared a bombing halt in vietnam and humphrey had -- people forget, humphrey, at the beginning of october, nixon 43, humphrey 28, wallace, 21. by the time the race ended, it was 43-all. much of the wallace vote in the north moved to humphrey and some of the nixon vote, so he had a tremendous campaign there. and the bombing halt i think almost put humphrey over, but then the north vietnamese, president chu, declined to come to paris for the meeting. and that's the cause of a great controversy now. but with regard to reagan, reagan was young. that's a different reagan i saw in the white house. and i think reagan would have gone for victory in vietnam and would have gone all-out bombing and used american power and
there would have been no limits on going into laos or cambodia. >> late september, vice president humphrey travels to salt lake city to do what? >> he gives a speech in which he finally comes out against the johnson policy on the vietnam war. and he speaks up in favor of peace and going to peace talks and de-americanization of the war. and some people think if he had just done that earlier, because as pat said, he was coming on strong at the end in part, perhaps, because of johnson's decisions, baa you also made a reference to president tu of south vietnam. and there's a great book called chasing shadows about the back channeling that was being done between the nixon campaign and president tu about the peace talks. >> that's a matter of some controversy. >> we're going to debt to that. >> george bloomington, illinois, republican line.
go ahead with your question, george. >> thank you. good morning. i have a question of mr. buchanan and miss perry concerning president johnson's tardiness in supporting hubert humphrey in '68. until that very late date. and i'm wondering if, it's sort of a what if question, again, but what if the president had come out sooner for humphrey? miss perry alluded to the tension between humphrey and johnson over the war, and it was palpable. >> george, thank you. >> indeed, there will always be this historical what if. what if humphrey had -- and i think it was against his personality, he was such a joyful, positive, ebullient character, and such a loyal character, that it was hard for him to turn against his president. but i think it is possibly the
case if he had come out sooner and draw the people who were supportive of mccarthy, the anti-war activists, supportive of robert kennedy, the far-left fringe, he was not going to get. they were going to be against him, as indicated in chicago. but i think if he had come out earlier, against the johnson policy, maybe humphrey would have got what he needed in the popular vote. but as pat well knows, nixon so flooded him on the electoral college vote, that it's really hard to put together. >> this is the 1968 electoral map, and you can see a very different country back then, with the republicans winning states like california and winning the upper midwest. the democrats winning states like texas, and of course, the midwest and new england. and then there's george wallace in the south. >> got five states. >> at one point, he had seven. he had both carolinas, i think. yeah, he took those states away.
and one of the reason nixon picked agnew, and agnew had a hard position, tough, hard line on riots. he had been very tough down there in cambridge, when they burned that town down. and as a matter of fact, humphrey -- you mentioned humphrey. humphrey was gaining, and i was -- if you can believe it, we were campaigning on long island. i went to the president and said, the president-elect, mr. nixon, i said, you know, i'm not doing any good here. we've got the same old message. let me go out, and i can help agnew. i went out and spent a week on agnew's plane. we were down with spiro t. agnew to win that area. so i do think that hubert humphrey, if he had moved earlier, would have done better. and one reason is, his campaign from september to that salt lake city speech was bedeviled everywhere with dump the hump and obscene comments and he
finally got to the point himself, he was denouncing fascism out here. they won't let me speak. teddy kennedy, he was being denounce. but it turned for humphrey and he began really moving up the hill at a tremendous clip. and i remember going to nixon and saying, we have to attack humphrey to drive the wedge back through the party, because it's coming together. >> we didn't do a thing. >> very quickly, who was george wallace? >> oh, george wallace, what colorful character. pat and i were talking before the show today, and he said he used to go speak with him. so we want pat to way in, but he was a populist, eventually, segregationist. so he was not in his earlier life in alabama, but he was a world war ii veteran. we look back now and realize he may have suffered from some ptsd from his service in the war. he was a pugilistic kind of fighter.
and by the late' 50s, when he lost a race in 1958, i will not use the "n" word, but he said he would not be out-n'd by someone else. so he came against the anti-civil rights view and brings that into the 1968 campaign, not to think that he was going to win. he knew he probably wouldn't carry any states outside of the south. as pat said, he carried five of them. but thought he could be the broker if there was not a electoral majority for one of the two major candidates. >> or he could put it in the house, right? here's the thing, wallace had come out in '64 and he had run in the democratic primaries and he had done very well in wisconsin and indiana, right
here next door in maryland. wallace got a majority of the white vote and the democratic primary in 1964 and lbj was president of the united states. and then he comes in '68 and announces his third party run. and what he did then, i mean, he was not only a segregation, though, it was strict segregation, he got that vote. but he was also a real populist. he was bashing the students and the demonstrators. and i know some four-letter words, too. s-o-a-p and w-o-r-k. but i got to know him. i went down after i left nixon. i got to know him, and i would go down to alabama and i would speak regularly at a chair at troy state. and i would get to the airport and a state trooper would be there, and i would be with my wife, and he would say, the governor would like to speak to you. and that was after he had been shot out in laurel in the '72 campaign. and i would go to his office and we would tell old stories of the campaigns and how he did against linzy.
used to talk trash to the reporters. but he was quite a guy. and later on in his life, he sort of felt badly about a lot of the things that he had done. but 1963 with segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever. >> and standing in the schoolhouse door in 1963 as president kennedy, robert kennedy tried to integrate the university of alabama, per the federal court orders. >> i think it was choreographed. he stood in the schoolhouse door, they came, nationalized the guard, and he stepped aside and it all came up. everybody got what they wanted. >> yeah, and it worked for him politically. his big mistake was in choosing curtis la may, the air force general as his vice presidential nominee, who was making comments -- >> that was in -- >> yes, it was. >> that was in '68. >> curtis la may came out and they asked him, what about nuclear weapons? >> they said, you know, people are too frightened of these things. we tested them out and everything was fine. although the sand crab wars
little hot after -- >> people might want to use them in '64, but he was saying, let's do it! >> pat buchanan is the thor of "the greatest comeback: how richard nixon rose from defeat." joining us at the table is barbara perry, the director of presidential studies a lot uva's miller center. andy from owensboro, kentucky, go ahead. >> thank you, all. i would like to thank you mr. buchanan, because he's been a good servant for the united states and everything. and i take my hat off to you, mr. buchanan. my question is, i was born in 1962. i'm 55 now. i love politics. do you think that there will every be like anymore conservative democrats? i know there was some back then, and i know there's still conservative democrats out there. do you think that there's any that will arise in the future? >> thank you, andy.
socially, culturally, no. i think we saw this out in illinois, a pro-life democrat that tried to defeat him and almost did, he's an incumbent congressman. i think that on social, cultural, moral issues, the democratic party has made its move. i think the fact they lost the entire south, which was something that kept them to a degree conservative, i don't think you're ever going to see it. as a matter of fact, i think younger americans, the millennials seem to me the majority -- well, there's pro-lifers. the majority seem to me to be of the left. and the i think the democratic party will be pulled to the left. the real danger for it in the coming election, i think, is that the left nominates its candidate in the sense the way mcgovern did -- they did in 1972, when they nominated mcgovern. and pulled the party so far to the left that nixon was a centrist republican, but the hard line gave him 49 states. republicans aren't going to win 49 states ever again.
but i think the democratic party will never be conservative enough. >> we'll see in the midterms, won't we? and maybe someone like conor lamb will be as conservative as the democrats will go. but it was an interesting choice and a successful one. i would say to the caller from owensboro, kentucky, wendell ford, who became the majority whip in the senate, and was a conservative democrat from kentucky, but now there are really no such things. because kentucky is a red state, a republican state, and it's got republicans not only throughout the senate delegation, but throughout the house delegation, itself. >> i went into politics in '66. it was one republican senator in the entire old confederacy, john tower. and he had gotten that as a result of lbj becoming vice president. so, then we got howard baker in 1968 in tennessee. but now, it's -- the reverse is
true. >> it's the reverse. >> raymond from cleveland, ohio, independent line with pat buchanan and barbara perry. >> how do we go from 1968 and kent state and how do we deal with -- we didn't have the social media and the internet back then. how did people organize? >> the answer is nixon opening up the cambodian front in the vietnam war, trying to stop the flow of men and material into the south and to be used against forces in south vietnam. with the announcement of that in april of 1970, the campuses explode again, particularly kent state. there's a peaceful demonstration, but the ohio national guards open fire and several are killed.
that is yet another open wound for the united states to have to deal with. how did these people organize. i watched a documentary and without social media, the way to get to the media, in those days, media is supposed to be between the media and the people. now, we are. we are the media and the people of the media. it's what pat was saying about how to reach the media in the nixon campaign. how to do good advance work to get people out if you're having a rally or a demonstration. it was word of mouth, it was telephones, it was telegrams. >> i wrote this speak with nixon, the cambodian invasion speech. and it was very dramatic, because i think it was, what, april 1, i think it was 1970 and what happened was, they did have
riots out at camp, that's why the national guard was called in by governor roads. he made a rough speech on sunday and monday. the students were up there and approaching these guardsmen, who foolishly had their live ammunition and rifles. four died, i think five or more wounded. i was home and i wasn't feeling and a fellow at work for me called and he said, there's four kids shot at kent state. i said, where is kent state? but word went around. that's where nixon -- nixon came closer to being broken closer than anything i've ever seen. that's the time he left the white house on the friday, went over to the lincoln poirl at 4:00 in the morning, where all these students were gathering and took beebee reboso with him. mineola, the fell throe that worked for him.
and in the early hours, he was really moved by what had happened there. and the white house was tremendously divided. most didn't like the invasion of cambodia and urged nixon to go much further, sort of accommodating the students. that was the roughest time of nixon's presidency, i recall in the first term. >> we're looking at 1968 beginning with eugene mccarthy's decision to seek the democratic nomination in the fall of 1967. we will look at the timeline as we listen to garrett from orlando, florida. >> good morning. very edifying. thank you both. i would like to ask or have you comment on the dump johnson campaign, that was, you know, by congress and the legislatures. and maybe in particular or maybe listened for loinstein. >> sure.
sure. i mentioned a little while ago that johnson was bouncing down into the low to mid-30s in the approval ratings. nothing will get members of a president's party, attention in congress like really low approval ratings for the president. so that's part of the dump johnson movement. he was pushing robert kennedy to join the race as an anti-war candidate. one thing we haven't mentioned that came out in ted kennedy's oral history, where we do typically presidential oral history, but he came to us to do his oral history after 40 years in the senate. and he told the story of being deputied by his brother, bobby, to go out to the midwest, to speak to eugene mccarthy, to say, you know, bobby's considering getting in the race, but if you will put near or at the top of your agenda in addition to being anti-war, to looking into the issues of poverty, rural poverty, urban poverty, that bobby kennedy had embraced at that point. bobby will reconsider getting
into the race. and according to ted kennedy. gene mccarthy said, no, anti-war is at the top of my platform. so that was the movement of lounstein trying to get bobby to get into the race. >> lounstein tried to get a number of people. he tried to get mcgovern, right? >> that maybe. >> donna from st. louis, missouri, where pat buchanan spent many time in the 1960s. good morning, donna. >> caller: that's true. good morning. i have a question for pat. but first, i would just say, i was an independent and went to california and was a delegate for you in 2000 and i had a nice chat with brian lamb while i was there. >> and my question is, there was a time when i supported the vietnam war in the mid-60s. i was in high school and graduated in '66.
you knew it was unwinnable, though, if all the chinese pouring in there, with as they did in korea. why didn't we handle vietnam like truman handled korea? i always wondered that? >> well, with truman. >> it was general eisenhower who came in and decided that that we're not going for victory. and you had a dmz where the two armys were lined up. and he threatened the chinese and he got basically an armistice. with vietnam, you had a -- you had a much different story the chinese were not in vietnam. the north vietnamese were in the south. it's a very good question. looking back, and anybody that's been involved in any way, and i wasn't over there, but i was writing speeches in the white house and working for nixon as an aid before he ran. got to ask yourself, afterwards,
the vietnam war accomplished a lot of good things. it held the line and all of those countries did not move from indonesia all around, but moved toward the west. but should we have gone in in the first place? >> barbara perry, was richard nixon undercutting the johnson administration in trying to keep the war going through the election of 1968, saying you'll get a better deal with me? >> well, that's what the latest literature, the historical literature says about that question. but i'm going to pass it over to pat, because i think he was there and he will know the answer to it. but the historians are saying, yes, that, indeed, nixon was back channeling with ana chenault. >> who was what? >> ana chenault, i understand, was the widow of general chenault from world war ii. and was the go-between between, according to the historians'
literature now, the nixon camp and the south vietnamese, encouraging the president of south vietnam to hold off on participating in peace talks, get a better deal under nixon, and remember, nixon was running, saying that he had a plan to end the war. he was being very public about that, but i'll let pat address the behind the scenes issues. >> yeah, i don't credit the -- what recent authors have said about this. i was with nixon and i had nothing to do with it. i remember going into see him that saturday, before the election, and telling him a friend of mine had called, john sears, and said, michigan's gone and we're down 3 nationally in the harris poll.
if there were a signal sent, why didn't president chu say the reason i did this was this? none of these main actors were questioned or came forward to validate the suggestion that nixon told mitchell to tell president chu don't go you will get a better deal from nixon. this is not a dumb man. one fellow said nixon told him when he heard about the bombing throw a monkey wrench into this. he used that phrase all the time about everything. >> i don't know if there are tapes of the wire taps but there are tapes of president johnson
talking about this issue that you can listen to and that he told humphrey this was happening, humphrey refused to release it. >> humphrey said he didn't believe it. >> from gaithersburg, maryland, phil. go ahead, please. good morning. >> caller: thank you for having ms. perry and mr. buchanan on, they are two fabulous guests and i appreciate that, c-span. my comment is i was a history student at the university of maryland in 1968 and the college campus behavior seems to be 50 years ago was quite different than it is today. many points of view were listened to, many points of view could be tolerated. today it seems to be that
college campus behavior is much more progressive and anyone who disagrees is silenced. >> i agree 100%. i think -- as i say, i was out there, they were hearing our view, they didn't like our views if you supported the war, but they invited you out there and they invited pro war and anti-war speakers on campus. but today you get a real sense of intolerance and a sense of -- that we have found the truth and we don't want to hear any more dissent and certain forms of dissent are racist and bigoted and homophobic and things like that. that goes to the idea that one side in the cultural war is evil and there's only one good side. >> two final points, this is a headline from the smithsonian website in 1968 when nixon said, sock it to me, on laugh-in, tv was never quite the same. it is very brief, only five seconds. listen carefully. >> sock it to me. >> why was this significant? >> well, it was because nixon basically was the stiff -- he
was considered stiff and correct and he was not with it, and that was a real -- that was a real sort of progressive-type show. i didn't think it was a good idea, but i think paul keys who was a very good friend of nixon and was a writer for rowan and martin, i believe, persuaded nixon to do. >> pat said he was considered uptight and stiff, and also sweaty from 1960 in the debates with jack kennedy. so, to go on a hip and happening show, and to sort of make fun of himself like, sock it to me, as if i don't even know what that is, but they told me to say it. it's a turning point, i think, for politicians to go into popular culture. >> in our remaining minute, the lessons from 1968, barbara perry, what are they? >> i think we've touched on some
of them already and they are this increasing polarization i think has kicked off the polarization we see today in the parties and in today's culture, pat has made reference to culture wars, we still see those today. i also think that there is a linkage between 1964 and barry goldwater, his brand of right wing populism in through the reagan years and nixon to some extent but reagan with movement conservatism and all the way up to donald trump. i think we see some of the seeds of both the democratic left and the republican right and democratic populism and republican populism to this day. >> pat buchanan, we give you the final word. >> i think that's very true. what you see is that goldwater sort of laid this foundation with this powerful conservative movement which basically captured the party but couldn't capture the country, and nixon picked up that movement and brought that republican party together and then picked up the two pieces of democratic party, the northern catholics and southern protestants, created a
new majority that won for republicans five out of six presidential elections after 1964, which was astounding considering the defeat then. but you're right, in the democratic party the gene mccarthy, bobby kennedy, george mcgovern wing would capture the party and nominate mcgovern in '72, but i think what you've got subsequent to '68, that year was -- we really crossed a continental divide and we have never been able to get back over that divide, i think, and it's because it involves more than simply politics, it involves the most fundamental beliefs about men, about right and wrong and good and evil and justice and injustice. there is just very little upon which you find that americans really agree these days. >> for your insights, your perspective and your stories, barbara perry of the university of virginia and pat buchanan, to both of you, thank you for being with us. >> good to see you, friend. >> our pleasure. when our look at the 1968 presidential campaign continues,
a college history lecture on the events happening in the u.s. at the time which changed the future of the candidates. then a discussion of the 1968 new hampshire primary with panelists who were involved in the campaigns. we are able to show you these american history tv programs, normally shown only on the weekends, because congress is on break. and if you miss any of today's programs, you can see them again tonight at 8:00 eastern. you can also listen to the programs as a podcast on spotify or watch anytime at c-span.org on our 1968 page. our c-span series, 1968: america in turmoil, continues throughout the week here on c-span 3. on wednesday civil rights and race relations, thursday a discussion on liberal politics, friday conservative politics and on saturday women's rights. >> senate confirmation hearings for brett kavanaugh to be a supreme court justice are expected in september.
senators are likely to question judge kavanaugh about row versus wade, the 1973 decision that struck down restrictions on abortion. tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern c-span's landmark cases presents an in depth look at roe v. wade. will we will also hear from david savage discussing judge kavanaugh's nomination and the abortion issue. >> on lectures in history, university of washington professor margaret o'mara teaches a class about the 1968 presidential election and the events that impacted the outcome. she talks about how the vietnam war eroded political support for president lyndon johnson and helped lead to his decision not to see re-election. she also describes, month by month, events leading up to the election, such as student protests, the rise of the black power movement, and the assassinations of martin luther king jr. and robert kennedy.