tv 1968 - America in Turmoil Liberal Politics CSPAN August 9, 2018 1:03pm-2:38pm EDT
war that they are sent to fight. and about the world that they are about to inherit. and in private talks and in public. i have tried in vain to alter our course in vietnam before it further saps our spirit. and our man power. for the this raises the risk of further war and further destroys the country and the people it was meant to save. i cannot stand aside from the contest that will decide our nation's future. and our children's future. the remarkable new hampshire campaign of senator eugene mccarthy has proven how deep are the present divisions within our party and within our country. until that was publicly clear, my presence in the race would have been seen as a clash of personalities. rather than issues.
but now that that fight is won, over policies which i have long been challenging, i must enter that race. the fight is just beginning. and i believe that i can win. i have previous communicated this decision to president johnson. and late last night my brother senator edward kennedy travelled to wisconsin to communicate my decision to senator mccarthy. i made clear through my brother to senator mccarthy, that my candidacy would not be an opposition to his, but in harmony. my aim is to both support and expand his valiant campaign in the spirit of his november 30th statement. taking one month at a time. it is important now that he achieves the largest possible majority next month. in wisconsin, in pennsylvania, and in the massachusetts primaries.
i strongly support his effort in those states. and i urge all my friends to give him their help and their votes. both of us will be encouraging, like-minded delegates to the national convention. both of us want above all else, a open democratic convention in chicago. free to choose a new course for our party and for our country. finally, my decision reflects no personal animosity. or disrespect. he served president kennedy with the utmost loyalty and it was extremely kind it me and members of my family in the difficult months which follow the events of november of 1963. i've often commended his efforts in health and education and in many other areas. and i have the deepest sympathy
for the burden that he carries today. but the issue is not personal. it is our profound differences over where we are heading. and what we want to accomplish. i do not lightly dismiss the dangers and the difficulties of challenging an incumbent president. but these are not ordinary times. and this is not an ordinary election. at stake is not simply the leadership of our party, and even our country, it is our right to the moral leadership of this planet. i thank you. >> from march of 1968, a tumultuous year and the announcement that senator robert f. kennedy would seek the democratic nomination, he did so on march 16th, in 1968, and joining us from west palm beach,
florida, is the eldest daughter of senator kennedy. kathleen kennedy townsend, thank you very much for being with us here on c-span. >> good to be with you, steve. >> joining us here in washington is michael cohen, the author of the book "american maelstrom: the 1968 election and the politics of division." coming the out in paperback late they are year. let me give with you. president lyndon johnson, a key political figure in what we're talking about. what was his standing as the year began? >> johnson was in a tough political position, the war in vietnam had become a stalemate. there was a growing opposition to the war within his own party and also on capitol hill. popular support for the war had dipped. so he was in a tough position. he was facing a primary challenge within his own party for the nomination. for the nomination for eugene mccarthy and then the tet offensive occurs and that's the moment the end of johnson's presidency in some respects politically. it showed that the
administration was lying about the war. that the war those not, there was no light at the end of the tunnel. things had fallen apart in vietnam as far as u.s. policy. from that point forward it became clear that johnson politically was it would be hard for him to survive among his own party because of opposition among democrats. >> what was the tet offensive? >> it was a surprise offensive won by the north vietnamese in vietnam. the guerillas too over the u.s. embassy briefly. a majority of provincial capitals were attacked. a city was taken over by north vietnamese. you had massive casualties, mostly by the north vietnamese. at home politically it had a huge effect on the psyche of the american people. i think it convinced a lot of people that the war was lost. >> and where did this put the vice president at the time, hubert humphrey? >> that's an interesting situation.
a classic liberal, someone who had been a big supporter of civil rights legislation. and had been, had strong support among liberal groups, in particular the unions and he, he became a vice president for johnson, he became a loyal supporter for johnson. including on vietnam. humphrey was a bigger supporter of the war than johnson in some respects, he became the face of trying to sell the war to the american people this created a lot of problems within his own party. by liberals who saw humphrey as having turned his back on sort of the party and on his liberal beliefs. so he was you know amongst some groups in the party, he was popular especially among labor and for a lot of democrats he was seen almost as negatively as johnson was seen. >> kathleen kennedy townsend, we want to talk about your father. i want to ask you about eugene mccarthy. the senator who announced in november of 1967 to challenge a sitting president, lyndon b. johnson, what was your father thinking early in that process as eugene mccarthy was ramping
up his own campaign in new hampshire and elsewhere? >> as you know, a number of people were asking my father to run for president. and my father was ambivalent about it. because he thought that it would be seen only as a fight against lyndon johnson personality versus personality. and he didn't want to have this fight just to be about him and lyndon johnson. he wanted to raise larger issues, when he had spoken out against the vietnam war in 167, very few people listened to actually what he said. but they listened to and what they publicized was the personal animosity. so that's an important aspect of how my father was trying to make his decision as to whether to run or not. gene mccarthy didn't have that personal animus and that history with lyndon johnson. so when gene mccarthy was
running, he was running more clearly against the war. >> when did your dad decide to seek the nomination? what was the tipping point? >> i think -- what michael cohen said, i think the tet offensive was the tipping point. he had said early in january that he would not run and then after the tet offensive, i think he changed his mind because he saw that there really was no way that this war was going to be won. and that lyndon johnson couldn't acknowledge what was going on. lives were being lost in a fruitless horrible effort. so he, he decided that he wanted to run and any effect he made that decision, before the new hampshire primary. when he went out, he had made that decision before that time.
>> a popular magazine, in the '60s and '70s. "teen" magazine, you and your father on the cover. you were 16 years old at the time. what was going on -- >> go ahead. >> i just remember that, it was funny to be in that's a nice, i hadn't seen that picture for a long time. so it's very sweet of you to put it up. thank you. >> i mention it because i'm curious, what was going on within the family. with you, your mother, ethel kennedy and other family members, considering whether or not robert f. kennedy should seek the nomination. >> you know. >> we thought our father was terrific and my mother was a very big supporter of him running. because she knew that in his heart, in his gut, he wanted to run for president.
he saw what was going on in the country. she thought that was his was saying that he should run. my father, being an understanding politics, clearly, was worried about the issue with lyndon johnson on one hand and the second issue is that he had run, his brother's campaign in 1960. and he understands that when you want to run for president, you try to make sure you can win and you've lined it up and thought it through and you've got a whole campaign in place, which is what he had established in 1960 for his brother. he had not been able, he had not done that in 1968. so it was more of a -- passionate, crusading kind of campaign. which was part of him like that.
held to the political knowledge of how you put together that campaign. kind of an interesting balance. >> michael cohen. beyond the leaders of the democratic party in 1968, what was going on within the party among the rank and file? >> one emerging figure is in '68 is a guy named al lowenstein, who had decided by early '67 that lyndon johnson should not be the nominee of the democratic party in '68. that he needed to be defeated. this was based in opposition to the war in vietnam. so he went around and tried to find the democrat to challenge johnson for the nomination. he pushed bobby kennedy first, that was his first choice. kennedy said no. as did at least half a a dozen figures. he approached mccarpet were in the fall of '67 and mccarthy was interested. he had been traveling around the
country. making his opposition to the war known. mccarthy was not a well-known figure. he was not terribly popular on capitol hill. he had been -- number two joyce for johnson to be his vp nominee, he lost out to hubert humphrey. so when mccarthy challenges johnson it's in part because of lowenstein's lobbying of him. when mccarthy gets involved, this group of anti-war activists rallies around his campaign and becomes his army, his political army. it's one of the reasons he did so well in vietnam, one of the reasons he did so well in primaries in wisconsin and oregon that came after. one of the things that mccarthy did, why he wanted to run was to create this outlet for anti-war activists to have their voices heard within the party. in some ways it's the most successful thing he did in '68, which he gave activists a voice,
and in the end, you know those activists were the ones who basically toppled johnson and caused him to, without mccarthy's performance in new hampshire, i don't think kennedy gets in the race and without kennedy and mccarthy both in the race, i don't think johnson drops out. >> and we're looking at 168 here on c-span and a live assumelecast on c-span's history tv. a year in turmoil. a lot happening. joining us live is kathleen kennedy townsend and michael cohen, the author of a book on 168. give us a better sense of eugene mccarthy. why he entered the race. what his personality was like, what his political standing was like. and why he faltered as the primary process continued. >> so mccarthy is an interesting figure. is he was aloof guy. very -- intellectual.
very sort of conservative demeanor to him. he was somebody who believed in the political process. he ran because he believed that, he was fearful that democrats oppose the war in vietnam. >> we're going to create a third or fourth party. so he wanted to give them an outlet within the party. to again make their voices known. he had a very sort of -- traditional view of politics, even though, as time went on during the campaign. he is also somebody who was a bit lazy. he wasn't really like campaigning. his campaign staff asked him about morning events and he would say i'm not a morning person. he would have a hard time talking to people sometimes. he could be effective on tv and could be an effective politician. he didn't like this details of
campaigning. mccarthy would have given speeches the entire time and given people, here's my position, you decide. as time went on. that strategy didn't work so well politically. became more difficult for him to be effective, i especially he became overwhelmed by the activism around him, the energy around kennedy's candidacy. >> kathleen townsend, what was the relationship like between your father and senator mccarthy? >> well they were both catholics, i think they were different kinds of catholics, in the sense as michael pointed out. gene mccarthy was much more intellectual, much more reserved. i wouldn't say that my father also, i would say was kind of shy. but he liked people, he was empathetic. he had the issue of vietnam.
but he also spoke very much to working people, to the poor, to the disenfranchised. so he had a much, i would say, larger heart, that embraced lots of people and touch them and was touched by them. so i think that, they had very different per ats and different passions. >> march 16th, 168, you and your family, with your father as he formally announces his candidacy in the same location where john kennedy announced in 1960. what do you remember about this day here in washington? >> it was very exciting to have my father announce his presidency. we were, we were thrilled that he was going to run, and the number of people asked weren't you afraid. one of the things that we've learned in our family is not to
be afraid and so we, so we were very happy about the fact that he was going to run. that he was going to do what was in his heart. that he had something to offer. there was a lot of chaos, but we're accustomed to growing up in chaos. it was a great day. and after march 16th, he went up and he marched in the st. patrick's day parade. there was this sort of irish sense of reacting to your father's candidacy. senator eugene mccarthy of march of 1968. >> what's your reaction as a politician? can you take him i guess is the best question? >> well i haven't really been moved to withdraw at this point. i think that i can certainly win in win win and i see no reason to believe that i couldn't go on
to win the other primaries in which i'm committed. >> has this caused you in any way to reassess your overall position? >> well i don't think there's any reassessment, david. i've been committed since i first announced to run in the primaries, to which i had responded and i've made no changes in my plans to either because it's new hampshire. or in consequence of the announcement of senator kennedy. >> i keep hearing a sort of rumbling indications of a deal at some point in the future. are you prepared to deal with bobby kennedy? >> i'm not prepared to deal with anybody. so far as my candidacy is concerned. i committed myself to a group of young people and i thought rather idealistic adults in american society. i said i would be their candidate and i intend to run as i committed myself to run. if situation develops at a convention of course. where i can't win, i will
release my delegates, i don't have any other power over them, anyway. i don't have a block of delegates who i trade with. if i did have, i wouldn't trade with them. so far as i'm concerned, it will be an open and free convention. i'll run as hard as i can and stand as firm as i can in the convention and if i find that i can't win, i'll say to my delegates, you're free people go for whatever you want and make the best judgment that you can make. >> courtesy of cbs news and that interview was conducted after the announcement of senator robert f. kennedy. your reaction? >> i think eugene mccarthy had had a tough relationship with the candidates for a long time. even very tough on jack kennedy. in part because he thought he should be the first catholic president, not john f. kennedy. and he never really got over the way that bobby kennedy got in the race in '68. because the night, the morning after, he wins the nam shi
primary, kennedy says he's reassessing whether or not he's going to run. the feeling among mccarthy is a lot of his supporters was, these are stolen, the gifts upped the christmas tree from mccarthy by stealing his thunder right after this impressive performance in new hampshire. so the animosity between them grew as the campaign went along. a lot of people weren't huge fans of mccarthy. he was a tough person to like. and it's interesting that one thing that mccarthy didn't like about kennedy is he was an emotional candidate. he got into audiences revved up and excited. he didn't think that was appropriate for politics. he used to say that kennedy had all of these outreach groups, outreach to the american groups to african-americans, to hispanics, he thought that was not the way a politician should work. he says he has all of these average groups like they're flavors of baskin-robbins. it created a lot of animosity
between the two of them and a sense that as time went on mccarthy came to dislike kennedy. i think in a way that defined a lot of his campaign. he became much more critical of kennedy as the campaign went along. >> let's get a response and we'll get to your phone calls, kathleen kennedy townsend. >> i think michael said it pretty well. they had very different personality types. and gene mccarthy was as we said a number of times. the intellectual. and thought that he had done something very brave and courageous and in running against johnson and resented somebody else getting into the race. but had resented my family for a while. because didn't like their type of campaigning. so that's, you know, that's politics. and i think that gene mccarthy
as you can see after, after he didn't win the nomination, it wasn't as though he went back and said whatky learn to help more americans participate. more americans, african-americans and indians, that was not his, his way of acting and that's not where his heart lay. >> kathleen kennedy townsend is the former lieutenant governor of maryland. joining us from west palm beach, florida. a personal note on why you were there this weekend. >> yes, we were here this weekend because it's my mother, ethen kennedy's 90th birthday, april 11th. we had a great celebration last night. vice president biden came and speaker nancy pelosi, steny hoyer and lots of brothers and sisters, cousins. grandchildren, great grandchildren. it was a fabulous evening to celebrate my mother's extraordinary life.
and really, i would say my mother's belief in my father. and her ability to say to my father, you can achieve things, you can do what your fate calls you. my mother believed in my father. which was a very important part of his success. >> we'll go to albert in chicago. democrats line. >> good morning, c-span and good morning to you, mrs. townsend. >> how are you. >> how are you, ma'am? i was wondering if your father had in mind anyone that he wanted to be his running mate during that campaign. >> i don't think at that point, as you, as you can see, for instance, when his brother was running for president, they didn't really make up their mind until the last 24 hours as to that lyndon johnson would be john kennedy's running mate. so the running mate question
often depends on what's going on in the rest of the country and who will be most helpful to win the general election. and he had a very, my father as you know had a very tough fight. because he had gene mccarthy and then hubert humphrey. he was focused on winning the primaries. and then he had a couple of months to figure out who would be his running mate. thank you for asking, though. >> frank from corning, new york, good morning. >> good morning. in 1968, i formed with others forming a dissident democratic group that supported eugene mccarthy. and it was a shoestring operation. but it was very exciting. because we managed to win two of the three delegates. i was one who went to chicago which of course was a turbulent experience in some ways. i did also meet al lowenstein,
and i think it might have been after the election he came through here. and you know about his tragic end. it's one of his proteges i believe shot him or something. but i met eugene mccarthy once when some of us went down to new york city for a periodic meeting we had. and what struck me was as i was in line to shake his hands, he was talking to somebody and didn't seem to acknowledge my existence and i thought, this guy may or may not have fire in the belly, but he needs to be more attentive to the here and now and the people who are working very hard. it was a very difficult campaign. because we had very little money and not much support from regular democrats. in fact when i approached the regular democrats at a meeting.
when i suggested they not support lbj, one of the prominent lawyers stood up and said, who the hell are you. i had been in town only three years, i came in town in '65. so i could understand his comments. >> michael cohen. that's a great story. and it reminds me of something interesting. when i was researching my book. i went through mccarthy's papers and found all of these oral histories of people who worked on the campaign. there was one consistent theme. staffers or people involved in the campaign, that they didn't really like mccarthy in a lot of ways, that they found him to be aloof and distant. and not really engaged in the campaign. and yet they all -- revered him. because he had run. it's an interesting thing about mccarthy. that even though he was this
again very difficult person, he did something very courageous in '67, '68. he decided to take on johnson. had he not done that, i don't think johnson would have dropped out of the race. i don't think you would have seen the anti-war wing of the party be able to express themselves. go to the convention and pro defendant the war in vietnam. so mccarthy inspired loyalty among his supporters. among his supporters, a great deal of animosity towards kennedy. in part because they felt he had stolen mccarthy's thunder. mccarthy had less to lose than kennedy. so that's fair to say. but at the same time he did it when no one else would. i think it created a lot of loyalty, but also people who were involved in it the political process after the '68 campaign. people who worked on both campaigns, i think more often than not, who worked for mckampty, or mcgovern in '72
remained involved in the political process. i don't mean at the higher level, but the lower grassroots level. >> kathleen kennedy townsend, did your father ever talk about his relationship with president johnson? or did you ever hear conversations about what that relationship was like? >> we didn't have a personal one-on-one talk about lyndon johnson. but it certainly pervaded our house. and it was clearly a very tough relationship. as you know, my father objected to his brother's choice of johnson for vice president. they didn't really mesh personalitiwise at all. and they didn't really get along very well. so that was just clear, they just came from different parts of the world and different backgrounds. and they didn't get along. but i've said in you know,
looking back 50 years, what they did share was a commitment to to dealing with the issues of poverty. in this country. and i give, you know, johnson also signed the '64 civil rights act and he signed the immigration act. which my father very much agreed with. so on some issues, they really did agree, even though they didn't always get along, but they broke, the real break came over the war. >> as we set the stage on some of the key players in 168, we want to talk about the primary campaign that bekban in new hampshire. ended in california with a victory. 46% for senator robert f. kennedy. 42% for eugene mccarthy. and this ad from the 1968 democratic primary campaign by the rfk campaign. >> robert kennedy, and some people who aren't registered this year. in ten years, these americans
will inherit the problems we don't solve today. >> it's suggested in the next several decades the people are going to have to start wearing gas masks in new york city because the air is becoming so polluted. 750 pounds of refuse you breathe every year and the same thing is true to a lesser degree in cities all across the united states. that will spread to the rural areas as well unless we stop it. there are things we can do about automobiles. there are laws we can pass about dumping and throwing refuse in lakes and streams and into the air. otherwise as secretary gardner says, we're all going to have to live underground. industry must do something and then individual citizens and then the demand, the interest that all of you might take in it i think that's what's going to make the difference in this country. >> nebraska can make the difference. >> from the 1968 campaign by robert f. ken endy. and we're looking back 50 years later, "america in turmoil."
michael cohen is here, and kathleen kennedy townsend is joining us from west palm beach, florida. greg is our next caller from pennsylvania. >> i'm one of them guys that ended up spending a year in the jungles of vietnam. including a place called a-105, which we're not sure which side of the laotian border it was always on. a lot of the mess that was going on in laos because of drugs in china. but i'm firmly against the democrats, because of the vietnam war and the mess it turned out to be you know, the draftees, and but of course, the rich people, they could always you know, avoid the draft. so you know, being one of the old dumb grunts now and in declining numbers, i'm just making my comment. >> great, thank you, kathleen
kennedy townsend, how would you address that sentiment? >> well i think it's an excellent sentiment. in fact when my father was running for president, he said the same -- he said the same thing -- how unfair it was that people who could go to college, got out of the draft. and that the people who couldn't afford college, or didn't get out of the draft. he said that was unfair. and he said that to college students. so he was willing to go right into people who were benefitting from the unfair system and say, this is unfair. this is unjust. this is not the way this country should act. so i think my father was very clear that he didn't like the fact that so many people who couldn't afford college, went to vietnam and those who are well off were able to get out of it. >> from northeastern washington -- >> he said it directly. which is unusual. i want to underscore, because oftentimes politicians tell people what they want to hear.
and i think one of the things that was unique about my father, is he was able to tell people what they didn't want to hear. and ask them to think about their own responsibility and how they could do better. and how difficult it was. he was willing to do that. >> we'll go to washington state. brian is next, good morning. >> good morning, c-span. great show. question for each of your guests. first question, mr. cohen is, do you think that the liberals in politics will be able to make things daylight very clear, how things work when each party is in charge of our country, and then who comes along and has to fiction things. >> thank you, brian. >> well that's more of a contemporary question, i suppose. i, i guess the thing i would say is that -- this goes back to the
first question from greg. i want to say thank him for his service. you know, one of the ironies about vietnam is that it was democrats who were the ones who propagated the war and it was lyndon johnson, perhaps the most liberal presidents we've ever had, who led the war effort. and you know, he did create a lot of opposition in democrats, not just within the party, but in general their ability to handle foreign policy and their ability to handle military affairs. the irony of vietnam is that johnson escalated in part to minimize the political fallout from letting vietnam fall to the communists. and i think this was something that came back from who lost china debate in the '50s, the sense that dems weren't tough enough on kplunism. so the way for democrats to avoid that label was to fight in vietnam. the result was that it basically showed a lot of people that democrats couldn't effectively
manage foreign policy. couldn't effectively manage the war effort in vietnam. so in a lot of ways, it created i think a sense that democrats were weak on national security. weren't effective on national security that image i think has been propagated for 50-some years since then. and i'm not going to say that richard nixon fixed the problems that johnson created. although obviously he got us out of vietnam. but you know, there is a sense there i think that democrats created this problem and it undermined them politically for a long time to come. >> kathleen kennedy townsend, i want to share with you a column by pat buchanan who joined us to look at 168. available online, he said the year america came apart. among the things he talks about. the race riots, following the assassination of dr. martin luther king, the loss of your father and the surging anti-war movement. which made the democrats bitter and angry.
humphrey was seen as a johnson lackey. and he concludes by saying the american establishment, the best and the brightest had been broken at the wheel of vietnam. your thoughts? >> well i think that i think vietnam didn't just destroy a lot of the establishment. because they knew that they weren't winning it and they were still sending people over to vietnam, to die in a war that they knew was not going well. and they were dishonest with the american people. and it was a disaster, and as you, as i would say in my, think people historians would say, you weren't going to win that war. if you don't have the people in the south vietnam, the government itself didn't want to fight, you can't prop it up from outside. and it's so ironic and so sad now when you think of how many people died. both vietnamese and americans.
and now you know, we can have good relationships with vietnam. and it was really you know, a tragedy i think michael pointed out that lyndon johnson was afraid that democrats would be criticized for losing a communist state as they had lost china. and yet they're criticized anyway. so at least we could have been criticized and not have so many people die. and have probably a quicker reconstruction of vietnam. >> will is joining us from raci racine, wisconsin. >> how are you doing there mrs. lieutenant governor. i want to point out something that's missing from a sort of national conversation. we have a personality who happens to be running for governor of one of the states that dems got to win. illinois. he happens to be your brother. i want to pick your brain and see what are your sentiments
toward this lack of identity for the democratic party and a lack of engagement of support. >> well, i think there's, i think first of all, my brother did run for governor of illinois. i think he would have been a terrific governor. his opponent spent $60 million against him of his own money. so it's very tough when you're runninging against $60 million. >> across the country, i have to say i think the democrats have been revived and re-energized. because of what's going on in washington. we're winning elections that we haven't won in decades. and think there's this new energy. and new sense that we've got to get involved. we've got to get engaged. i'll give you a statistic on women. two years ago, 2,000 women ran for office. this year, 34,000 women are running for office.
there's a sense that we, this is our country and we're going to get engaged and get involved. and the other thing that is interesting about who is running, is how many people who have served in iraq, in afghanistan, are running and they're running as democrats. so i hope that this will be sort of the end of the vietnam you know era that the military can't be democratic because so many democrats are running, who have been in the military. >> michael cohen? >> i was going to say, it's interesting, i tend to degree with what kathleen townsend just said in the sense that '68, the divisions in the democratic party were extraordinary. particularly over the war in vietnam. but not just over the war in vietnam. a whole series of issues on civil rights, crime. a bunch of things that divide the party. you had a wing of the party, the more conservative democrats, southern democrats. who i mean for example, someone like bobby kennedy, he had a lot
of opposition within the party. labor didn't like him. southern democrats couldn't stand him. there was a lot there was some serious fault lines in the party. you do see this debate between the bernie sanders wing of the party. they're not, i don't want to paper them over, there's some serious differences, but nothing on the scale we saw in '68. the differences then were fundamental. in a way, there was a big wing of the party, mccarthy support, anti-war activists who viewed the democratic party and johnson as illegitimate in general. when the demolition began, you had ant i had war activists that regularly picketted and interrupted hubert humphrey's speeches, because of his views on vietnam. the fact in a last year, 2016 say like '68, say this is nothing like '68, as divisive as politics had become in our country. it could barely hold a candle to
what we were seeing in '68 as far as the divisions that were existing and as far as the animosity, not just between the two parties, but inside the two parties. >> the book is called "american maelstrom" with our guest michael co-en in washington and fairfax, virginia, is where our next caller is coming from. susan? go ahead, please. >> my name is susan, calling with a comment and i wanted to say hi to kathleen, i'm richard mackey's, niece. so good to see you, kathleen. you and your family have been very much on my heart. my husband was a, high school senior in upton, maryland in 1968 and last night he was showing the picture, the "so long, bobby" picture on the arts and style of the "washington post" picture to my daughter, elizabeth, last night. and telling her a little bit
about the history of that time. so i want to just say hello, tell you that i miss you and hope that glad to hear that you're celebrating your mother's 90th birthday. and hope to see you back in this area some time soon. and my brother andy strayhorn sends his love as well. >> thank you very much. very nice, susan. >> the u.s. information agency put together this program this documentary looking at 1968 and the democratic primary. there's an excerpt. >> now mccarthy was facing competition from a new candidate. senator robert kennedy had decided to run. >> with the decisions made by this convention today. >> there were other unexpected events. >> our hopes and the world's hopes for peace in the balance. every day. i do not --
>> jim and ann did not realize as they listened to the president's speech that he was about to tell the nation he would not run for the presidency again. >> the most partisan culture. accordingly, i shall not seek, and i will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your president. ♪ ♪ >> the next president of the united states. >> thank you, thank you. >> vice president humphrey became the last major democratic candidate to enter the race. his heir to the support that had been given to the president. humphrey acquired a substantial number of delegate votes before the national convention. >> from the u.s. information
agency, michael cohen, let's talk about the democratic party. what the structure was in 1968 and what changed after the '68 election? >> this is one of the interesting things we'll never talk about. we just saw the video and there are pictures of hubert humphrey who was the nominee of the democratic party in '68. he never ran a single primary in '68. that was not on the ballot and didn't need to be because the way that nominees were chosen. they were chosen at state conventions, they were controlled by powerful democrats, big-city, big democratic party power brokers and so even though kennedy and mccarthy faced off in these primaries, they couldn't win enough delegates to win the nomination. so once humphrey entered the race in april of '68, he was almost predetermined he would be the nominee of the party. unless mccarthy or kennedy could convince enough delegates to change their allegiance from humphrey to them. and that situation in which humphrey doesn't have to go before the voters, democratic
voters leads to this decision at the convention in '68, one of the few things voice vote on creating a reform commission to change the way democrats chose their nominee. and in that decision, which didn't get much corage, has completely rechanged our politics. the whole primary system we have now, the whole spending years in iowa new hampshire trying to win over support, democratic voters there, that all happened because of this reform commission which basically created a more democratic system. it said the nominee should be chosen in the primaries, the primaries should be binding. did away with fake conventions, by and large. and that has created this sort of modern primary system that we have, modern political system we have. it was something that was not really talked about much in '68. it was something that reformists were pushing, it came about in large measure because of the, because of mccarthy's campaign. you know one of the things that mccarthy said was, you need to have an outlet for people for
people to make their voices heard. we've got five or six primaries that are binding and most of the delegates are chosen at state conventions, one of the most important elements was to kwhang the system of how nominees are chosen and we're living in a very different political world because of that. >> kathleen kennedy townsend, in a conversation on c-span radio, james jones who served as the defacto white house chief of staff to president johnson said that on the afternoon of march 31st, 168, when lyndon johnson met with his vice president, announcing that he was going to not seek renomination, hubert humphrey reportedly said quote i had lost to one kennedy and i will lose to another. have you heard that story? >> no. i haven't heard that story. >> what about -- >> thank you for sharing. >> what about hubert humphrey and his standing in the democratic party? and how your father would have campaigned against him?
>> well, he -- obviously if hubert humphrey had not participated in the primaries, it was hard to campaign against him. so the campaign against hubert humphrey would have had to be with the democratic insiders and to go to them and say hubert humphrey is tainted by his association with lyndon johnson and its only me who's actually won the primaries who's shown that he's won the votes should win. hubert humphrey will look ill-legitimate. my father knew many of the democratic insiders because he had met and worked with them in the 1960 campaign and as the attorney general and as the senator he knew who they were, so he had a relationship with
them and he could've made a pretty strong argument about what needed to be done. i think it would have been very hard having won as many primaries as he did, he did beat mccarthy in all the primaries except for oregon, he beat him in the biggest primary, california, it would have looked bad for the democratic party to nominate hubert humphrey and it would have been a compelling case. >> i want to come back to the california primary shortly. >> let's go to glenn joining us from pottstown, pennsylvania, you're on the air. >> caller: yes, good morning. my question is to ms. kennedy. would you agree that every time the republican get in the white house, we have a financial chaos, economical mayhem and i
appreciate your dad and your own -- for the good intention and the good human being. >> thank you, glenn. >> thank you. i appreciate -- obviously i'm a democrat so i think the democrats who are a party that believe that government has a role really makes an effort to make government work and work effectively and i think that's a different attitude that some of the other -- some of the republicans have. i don't think we're talking about -- i think we all agree that we're not really talking about present day politics but i would say the current president is the epitome of being ahead of a government that doesn't really want it to work well. >> i would just say to that as far as -- whoever ends up coming after president trump will have to find a way to fix what's happening in washington right
now. >> this week we're focusing on the democratic party and the state of liberal politics and next week we'll turn our attention to conservative politics and the republican party and the nomination of richard nixon after his defeat in 1960 to john kennedy. craig in tulsa, oklahoma, you're next. >> caller: yes, it's an honor to speak to a kennedy and i always respected john f., he was almost a conservative in many ways. i just want to put out that liberal politics, unfortunately, in '68 was a sea change for how we had faced war, it was the liberals that brought him the idea that like the femininization of war. eleanor roosevelt back before world war ii she spoke to the mothers of the nation and said you may have to sacrifice your sons but we have to win. it was in '68 and the liberal politics that brought him the idea -- and there's nothing wrong with masculine or feminine, but you can't feminize war and they brought in the idea that now we're to the point because of liberal politics when
we get ready to have an action that we have to take, the first question is when are we going to bring our boys home? there's nothing wrong with that, but we need to win and i think one thing about conservative politics is they say we have to win and there may be sacrifice and that's realistic in, you know, the ugly thing of war. it's necessary sometimes and i think a bad thing in liberal politics is they feminized it to where i think the liberals need to reconsider and say, look, we win, you know, and, yes, we want our boys to come home but it shouldn't be timelines and bring our boys home now even before we start, so chime in on liberal products. >> craig, thank you. michael cohen? >> i would say that a lot of men felt that the war in vietnam was a mistake and that the boys should come home. i would just say that one of the reasons why vietnam was the disaster that it was was because there was no real strategy behind the war effort. there was no political strategy.
there was no clear military strategy for 6,000 vietnam and in a sense, one of the reasons why vietnam was a disaster that it was was because lyndon johnson refused to choose a course either to accelerate the war effort or to withdraw the american troops. the fall of '67 you have the war as a stalemate. and johnson couldn't decide which way to go. to get it over with or bring american troops home. johnson's policies for the war were disaster and led to the political tumult in '68. johnson refused to acknowledge that the war was going badly, refused to shift course, refused to seek an alternative strategy and tried to seek this middle ground between too much escalation or withdraw and it ended up a disaster. i don't really -- i reject the argument that this was somehow because liberals thought the boys should come home.
the liberals thought the war shouldened because it wasn't been won. >> let's put the year in context. we've been talking about eugene mccarthy the senator who announced to challenge a sitting president in his own party, that announcement was made on november 30th of 1967. president johnson narrowly defeats eugene mccarthy on march the 12th and that's the key thing to keep in mind. he didn't lose the primary, it was basically his marriaggin of victory. >> mccarthy won with 4% of the vote and it was extraordinary. bobby kennedy used that as a rationalization for getting in the race. i don't want to divide the party by getting in, but clearly the party is divided and he was right. there was a huge division. one thing worth pointing out, though, about the new hampshire vote that's worth noting. 20% of mccarthy's supporters voted for george wallace in '68
so it wasn't an antiwar vote as we think today. it wasn't a bunch of hippees saying we should bring the troops home. a lot of people voted for mccarthy because they wanted johnson to escalate the war. they wanted to find the way to bring the troops home. one thing about mccarthy is he didn't run on this antiwar platform. he ran on a send a message to washington about how you feel about the war effort. and in that sense it was incredibly successful because he could bring in not just people that opposed the war on the left, he brought in people that supported the war or didn't support the same goals that the antiwar activists but were upset with the way the war was going p. they created a big coalition in new hampshire. >> four days after the new hampshire primary, robert f. kennedy enters the race. we showed you that earlier on march the 16th, 1968.
president johnson announcing that he will not seek re-election. hubert humphrey enters the race but not until april the 27th, which is key thing to keep in mind. of course, senator kennedy winning the california primary on the evening of june 4th and tragically shot after midnight dieing the following day. hubert humphrey accepting the nomination on august the 29th and richard nixon elected president on november the 5th. let's go to fred joining us from ohio. you're next. >> caller: hello, how are you and mrs. kennedy my sympathies over a long time in the loss of a wonderful person, robert kennedy. >> thank you very much. >> caller: i'm sorry. >> i said thank you. >> caller: you're welcome. i was aged 23 in the years i've studied humphrey, the articles were a very loyal person so he wouldn't oppose johnson publicly but i read material that says that they brake on the vietnam
war and johnson stopped including humphrey in some of the briefings and he was really on the outside, and i felt when i was witnessing this first primary that i voted in, that robert kennedy brought sort of a love of unity, there was a positiveness to it that transcended politics, liberal and conservative. in contrast, i disagreed with mr. cohen, my impression at aged 23 and i listened to gene mccarthy. i thought he was undermining the military, contributing to an atmosphere in which the -- some of my friends i thought were horribly abused and abandoned. the military was blamed for things and they're among the braviest, finest people in the world. bob kennedy i thought brought love and respect across the board and from my feeling and my life at aged 23 that i could not
in the same breath talk about your wonderful bob kennedy and gene mccarthy and i'd ask for your comments. >> thank you for the call. >> i don't think he was ever somebody critical of the military and the soldiers themselves. if anything, he thought they shouldn't be in vietnam and he thought -- his criticism of the war was the political leadership in the country particularly of president johnson and the strategy that was being utilized in vietnam. i think there are people perhaps in the mccarthy camp, some of his supporters that may have been critical of the military but i don't think that's true of mccarthy himself. >> who did your father rely on for advice as he began his primary campaign leading up to california? who did he count on? >> well -- he had two terrific aids in adam lewinsky and peter
edelman who he trusted. if you read his speeches and if you talk to him, he really believed in the young and he thought that the young people with whom he spoke on college campuses had a lot to say and that's who he often listened to in a sense. there were all the old kennedy hands, ted sorenson, dave powers who he would hear about, but what he really was moved by was those who said, you know, go see caes caesar chavez, go to the reservations, so he was listening in large part to his heart and to what was going on with young people. >> he loses the oregon primary and comes back to win the california primary, how did he do that? what changed? >> well, the easy answer is the
demographics changed. he won, i think -- i can't remember exactly but almost 98% of the hispanic vote, for instance, in california and he won a huge in some precincts 100% of the african-american vote. so he was winning working class people, he was winning in that group whereas the people like -- hispanics and african-american were not a large part of the population in oregon so that was one of the big differences between the two states and he, unlike as you said about gene mccarthy, my father was tireless campaigner. he got up really early. he worked 15 hour days, all over the state, listening to people, engaging with people, hearing people and that thrust, that
energy and that ability and determination to win was i think compelling but it was also helpful that his message of everybody has a role to play in this society, everybody can participate, everybody should have a job that gives you dignity was also compelling message. >> i couldn't figure that the demographics were the reason why kennedy was successful in california and indiana. he won in large measure because he won about 80% or 90% of the african-american and only beat mccarthy by four or five points. in california, he had a big polling lead and it narrowed. part of it was because of his identification with black and hispanic voters. the more kennedy was seen as somebody close to both communities, more white voters tended to back away from him. it certainly happened in california. >> and of course, kathleen kennedy, as your father famously
said, now it's on to chicago and let's win there in reference to the democratic convention which we'll be talking about in just a moment. walk us through the evening of your father's assassination, what you remember in the days that followed? >> well, i'm not going to go through that kind of tragedy. that's not what i would want to do, but i think what you saw in the days that followed was the enormous outpouring of affection for my father. the train that went from new york to washington was supposed to be normally two hours i think lasted seven, eight hours because there were so many people on the tracks that came out both -- as you know, train tracks go through working class areas of the country of the state and both white and blacks came out saluting over their hearts because they saw their champion
had -- was fallen and i think that what my father was able to do was to reach out to people that didn't get along so well. michael's right. whites were afraid of my father's affection with african-americans and hispanics but there were still a large white working class population that believed in my father. they had seen him take on tough issues in his career and identified with his sense of justice and they felt they had lost something. >> i want to add to that. i didn't -- the train ride from new york to washington was really extraordinary story of just thousands and thousands of people coming out to say good-bye to kennedy and i think it's -- it's a combination of
people's love for him and love for the kennedy's in general. you have to remember that this assassination happened two months after the assassination of martin luther king and the riot that followed that assassination. there's a real sense when kennedy was killed that the country was coming apart at the seams and people really felt that this was -- that how much more of this violence could the country take and i do think that -- i think it really -- it destroyed humphreys chance of winning the presidency. it really hurt him. he said that at the time. the people just came to see the country is falling apart and wanting a change and believing democrats couldn't fix the problems in the country. and he said something at the time, something about that the -- that the assassination basically derailed his candidacy and that's true. the polling even, up to that point, humphrey was leading nixon in head to head polling after the assassination of the
kennedy those numbers shifted. i do think it was a very seminal moment, a very tragic moment, it goes without saying but it did turn people to the view that how much more could this country take and you think the problems you see now -- i'm not minimizing them at all, they're significant, when you have two major assassinations in two months, political assassinationings, it does cause people to question what is happening in the country and can the country survive. >> and the what if question, had your dad lived, would he have gotten the nomination in 1968? >> it's always hard to speculate. i think he would've because i think that he was -- he won the california primary and won every one that he entered except for oregon and he had good relationships with the insiders and i think could have made a very good argument that he was
the candidate that could pull people together. so i believe he could have won. i think that if he wasn't nominated and he had won all these primaries, it would really hurt humphrey because it would look like he wasn't really the candidate of the people. i think humphrey would have understood that as well. that's what i believe. you know, it's easy to say because who knows actually what would have happened, but i do think that my father understood after the california primary that he had to get along better with gene mccarthy that they had to make a deal in some way. and the question is whether gene mccarthy would be willing to do that because he was, as you heard earlier, bitter with my father, but it might have been possible to say for the good of the country we've got to work together.
>> so i will say this and this is not a criticism and i mean this as a positive, but bobby kennedy ticked a lot of people off, a lot of people within the democratic party. labor did not like him. the southern democrats, not a fan. of course, lyndon johnson didn't like him at all. i actually think it would have been very hard for him to win the nomination in large part because of johnson. i think johnson would have done everything he possibly would have done to keep kennedy from being the nominee. i do think that the threat of kennedy being the nominee would have been enough to convince johnson to have given humphrey more leeway to distance himself from the white house and the war on vietnam. this ended up being i think the reason why -- the level that humphrey lost. he couldn't distance himself from johnson on the war. he couldn't bring back liberals in his own party to support his candidacy and only in late september when he sort of distanced himself from johnson and the war, did liberals come
home. i think had kennedy lived just the mere presence of him as a possible nominee would have been enough for johnson to do everything he possibly could do to help humphrey be the nominee which would have been saying to humphrey if you want to say something on vietnam i don't like i think he would have supported it. after kennedy was killed that was no longer an issue. johnson fought tooth and nail to prevent humphrey from distancing himself in any way. humphrey tried in the summer of '68 to craft a message that would be somewhat his own message on the war, that would say he wasn't johnson's lackey and johnson wouldn't let him do it. humphrey to his discredit went along with that and ended up in the convention in chicago in -- at the dnc, he endorsed basically johnson's position on the war after his entire campaign in which mccarthy and kennedy challenging him on the war in vietnam, all these voters coming out and saying we want a change on the war, humphrey ends up endorsing johnson's position. had he come out against the war
i think he probably would have won the election. >> our series "1968: america in turmoil." greg, in pittsburgh, pennsylvania, you're next. >> caller: thank you. i was a 9-year-old on the tracks in baltimore and as you can tell i'm welling up just thinking about it. but my question -- my question is this: as looking forward, and i hope this isn't too far off track, but what was the trajectory in the democratic party after 1968 that made them incapable of mounting such a fractured challenge to richard nixon four years later? can you summarize what was going on within the party that they were not able to put together reasonable challenge to nixon by 1972? thank you. >> thank you. >> well, i would say -- i mean, the problem is the party was hopelessly divided. it was divided between not just on the war, but between sort of its establishment and sort of
activist wings. so you had a situation in which george mcgovern ends up being the nominee in '72. several of the unions refused to endorse him. you had a lot of moderate conservative democrats who didn't support mcgovern's candidacy. you had huge divides in the party. and i shouldn't minimize vietnam because it was obviously important. mcgovern was a very strong anti-war candidate and a lot of democrats, especially south democrats, didn't support that position, but i think also you had this huge divide between southern democrats and northern democrats, particularly over civil rights. johnson -- mcgovern was much more liberal on civil rights issues and a whole host of cultural issues and that ended up, i think, creating huge divisions within the party. i do think for what it's worth if humphrey wins in '68 those divisions are not as severe. i think humphrey was better positioned to be able to navigate both sides of the party than certainly someone like george mcgovern would have been. >> for our radio audience our guests in washington, michael cohen and joining us from west
palm beach, florida, kathleen kennedy townsend. and jeff is on the phone from warm springs, georgia. go ahead, please. >> caller: mrs. townsend, i was curious, in what ways were your father's views similar to his brother john toward richard nixon and in what ways were they different? >> that's a good question. interestingly enough, when richard nixon and my uncle john kennedy were in the senate together they got along. they had both fought -- i mean, they got along as a republican and democrat, but there was not the same animosity we had between parties that -- in the '50s that there is now. i think that's in large part because they had both fought in world war ii, so there was a respect for people who were in the trenches together, who put their life on the line together. you may disagree on some gs policies, but after all what you've shared is the threat of
death and seeing your fellow soldiers die. so i think that there's -- that always creates a kind of bond. my father, you know, then ran the campaign against nixon, i don't think they respected him during the campaign as much clearly, when you run against somebody it can be rather very tough and difficult, and so i think that president kennedy changed his views about nixon or changed his relationship to nixon in a sense during the 1960 campaign and that carried forward with my father. >> phil from omaha, nebraska. you're next. go ahead, please. >> caller: hello. ms. townsend, glad to see you. i remember you came to omaha about ten years ago for catholic democrats. i got to meet you. the reason i called is because in 1980 there was a collection of speeches on your father and
i've always thought the scott's bluff speech to be a symbol of his campaign because it was a heart felt leap of faith in the founding fathers and then he basically was -- because there was a disconnect he felt there should be a collaborative effort by the president if he had been elected president he would have traveled to keep the connection and i wonder if that's what we need today in order to -- because there is a little bit of a disconnect but not quite as much as '68. do you think there's anybody in any party that might be able to believe that as well? >> thank you, phil. >> thank you. well, thanks for reading my father's speeches, i really appreciate that. i think he has a lot to say and i think it speaks to us today as well. we haven't discussed what he did say and did do after the martin luther king assassination and i think that's an important point of what my father was able to do, which is to -- if you don't mind me going into that, which
is to go into indianapolis to the inner city and to say to people there that martin luther king had died, which they didn't know, and then talk about how his own brother had been killed by a white man so to try to say we all have suffered and there's pain, and then during the speech he asks -- he said we all have to have love and compassion for those who suffer, whether they be white or black, and let us say a prayer for our country. indianapolis was one of the few cities in the country that didn't break out into riots because there was a politician who could reach out to people's pain and say, i understand where you're coming from, and let's work together. i think that's -- you can see, number one, that if somebody is able to do that and does do that and has the courage to do that after he was told by the chief of police and the mayor don't go into the inner city, he did it
anyway, that it makes a difference. so there is actions one can take that can lift people's spirits up and bring peace. that's, i think, your question. as to who can do it today, i think we've got a whole slew of candidates on the democratic side and it's very exciting to see what they say and what they'll do and we'll learn more over the next 24 months about who does it the best. >> we encourage you to follow us on twitter @cspanhistory. we have a question we'd like you to answer, we will have it up for the full week and some of the responses next week as we focus on 1968, america in turmoil. the question is: which party has most since 1968? you can follow us on twitter and cast your vote and we will have it up during the course of the week. let's turn to chicago and the convention. the convention was in late august to coincide with lyndon johnson's birthday. >> that's right.
>> expecting that he was going to be renominated, giving the democratic party only two months to get ready for the november election. how significant were those anti-war protests? >> hugely significant. in the sense that it created an aura around the party of dysfunction. it was impossible to look at that convention and see what the democrats were doing and not conclude democrats were a party that was just incredibly fractured. i think it raised questions in people's minds, reasonable questions, could democrats govern the country? they couldn't even run a convention. that was certainly the sentiment among a lot of people. i think it's worth pointing out that the people who were protesting in chicago did not represent, i think, the core of the anti-war left. many of mccarthy's supporters stayed home from chicago, fearful of violence and the groups that were there, the hippies and, you know, abby hoffman and jerry ruben and
folks like that, they had a much, i think, more frankly nialistic view of politics. i think they wanted the violence and wanted to see the police overreact, which they did, in a way to point out the corruption in american politics. in a sense they were successful. i mean, it's often forgotten, but the host -- chicago created a commission to look at the violence and basically concluded it had been a police riot, the police were the runs that had been rioting and not the demonstrators. the police overreacted. they acted in a way that was cruel and incredibly -- i don't want to say homicidal, that's too strong, but violent towards the protesters. those pictures did a lot of damage to the party and made it hard for humphrey to run for president. it's interesting the stories that he initially criticized the chicago police which ended up creating a backlash because most people actually thought the
police acted appropriately. they were fine with the violence against the protesters. then he had to backtrack from that position which upset liberals. when the race started he was basically running in the high 20s, low 30s in the polls and was double digits behind nixon. ended up rallying by the end of the campaign, but he started off incredibly hamstrung as a campaign began. >> kathleen kennedy townsend, how serious was hubert humphrey in asking your uncle, senator ted kennedy, to be his running mate? >> he probably, you know, saw that there was a lot of affection for my family, but i think my uncle -- i know my uncle was not interested, he thought we were a torn apart family. my mother had 11 children without a father. there was a lot of healing that had to go on in our own family. >> let's go to tom in erie,
pennsylvania. go ahead, please. >> caller: good morning. what sticks in my mind the most about both robert kennedy and john kennedy is they were the last leaders that we had, political leaders, that truly represented the broad middle class in america. what's happened since then is that we've wound up with the republicans representing the top no more than 10%, the democrats representing the liberal -- the far left radical liberal left and the 80% of us in the middle have no representation in national politics and very often in state politics. do you foresee anybody coming forward in the near future that
will -- that has the potential to truly represent america's middle 80%? >> tom, thank you. let's turn to kathleen kennedy townsend. >> well, i would respectfully disagree. i think that president clinton did a very good job in lifting up the middle class. i think we had the best economic performance for middle class and actually for working people in the '90s, through the economic policies, and that was a very productive time. i think that president obama worked very hard to develop a strong middle class and obviously i think the healthcare bill, although it wasn't popular, really helps people because they know they can have healthcare, even if they lose a job. so i would disagree with the premise in a sense, but that's -- that might be understandable on my part.
it is -- the question is -- and i think there are going to be a lot of democratic candidates, like i said earlier, who i think will reach out to different aspects of the democratic party and you will be able to decide who is going to do the best job of appealing, i hope, to all of us and that it's not just a faction of the party. >> again, our question which party has changed the most since 1968. you can follow us @cspanhistory. let me go back to april 1968. vice president hubert humphrey accepting his party's nomination. >> but take heart, my fellow americans. this is not the first time that our nation has faced a challenge to its life and its purpose, and each time that we've had to face these challenges we have emerged with new greatness and with new strength. we must make this moment of
crisis, we must make it a moment of creation. [ applause ] as it has been said, in the worst of times a great people must do the best of things and let us do it. [ applause ] we stand at such a moment now in the affairs of this nation because, my fellow americans, something new, something different has happened. there is an end of an era and there is the beginning of a new day. [ applause ]
and it is the special genius of the democratic party that it welcomes change, not as an enemy, but as an ally. not as a force to be suppressed, but as an instrument of progress to be encouraged. >> 1968, hubert humphrey, the democratic nominee. michael cohen. >> so just to that last caller, i mean, one of the ironies, he mentioned kennedy and the middle class, is the one who did best against middle class voters was mccarthy. there's something about the humphrey speech is interesting, you know, he almost won the nomination -- almost won the presidency and did so in part because labor rallied around him. he had long standing support among unions and going back to
the '40s. they rallied behind him, they also rallied against george wallace who they saw as someone who was against the interest of labor. in a sense that was the last -- i mean, really not the last one, but certainly maybe the best time i can think of labor really almost -- almost bringing the democratic nominee over the finish line. from that point on democrats had a fractured relationship with the labor movement. in '72 like i mentioned before a lot of unions supported nixon against mcgovern and a big part of the reason frankly was race. this is something we have talked a lot about today, but the racial issues that emerged out of the late '60s really ended up doing a lot of damage to democrats and cut their support against working class supporters. >> let's go to lou in greenlawn, new york. go ahead, please. republican line. >> caller: good morning, steve. thank you. mrs. townsend, thank you so much for being on this show this
morning. we are all very grateful for your father's dedication to america. he was such a good man. >> thank you. >> caller: you know, i was 12 years old and i was in social studies and we were following the primaries with mr. gaetz, my teacher, and i woke up the next morning and i asked my parents about the primary, who had won, and they had told me about your father and we are all still very upset. we miss your father very much. but i want to tell you that we all need to come together as a country to face our problems. we can't be divided. it's so important for all the churches, all the faiths to come together and find common ground. >> lou, thank you for the call. kathleen kennedy townsend, your reaction. >> i think that's true and i
think that part of that is from both sides of the aisle to respect the other side, to understand that even if we disagree on policies, both sides love america and each side -- you know, each person has a sense of dignity within themselves. i think that really when my father talked about how we need love and compassion towards those in our country, it was really a wonderful thing to say because i think what he was able to understand is that even if he disagrees with somebody, he can respect where they came from and he can respect the dignity that they have as a human being. he -- at one point he said, you know, we are all on this earth for a short period of time and we all have a hope that our children will do better and have an opportunity. that's what we share. let's figure out a way that we
cannot demonize the other side rather than work with them. i think would be much better politics. unfortunately, as you know, that's not how people raise money, that's not how people get viewership on cable tv, but it is a way to build a stronger country and i thank you for your comments. >> michael cohen, let's look at the electoral vote totals from 1968, richard nixon getting 301 electoral votes compared to 191 for then vice president hubert humphrey. governor george wallace obtaining 46. the popular vote was closer. why did richard nixon win? >> why did nixon win? that's a good question. i would say a couple factors. i think primarily the sense of dysfunction in the country, i think a desire for americans to -- this is to quote a phrase used in the 1920 election, to
return to normalcy. '68 is very -- it's hard to sort of understand it now, but how -- how just dysfunctional the country was and how divided it was, the sense the country was coming apart at the seams. you not only had the riots after the king assassination, both assassinations, you had the violence in chicago, but you had half a million troops fighting a war in vietnam that a good portion of the country opposed. so i think that that was a big factor for nixon. i think also for -- another important factor was humphrey's inability to distance himself from johnson. if he had done so he might have actually pulled the race out. you just read the electoral numbers, but i have the numbers in my book, but a couple tens of thousand votes in different states switched sides and humphrey wins. i think another week and humphrey probably pulls the election out. it was that close. i think, you know, one thing i remember about nixon is that he started the race with about 43% of the vote in the following polling, that's what he ended up with. he didn't bring more people behind him. nixon was not a popular figure. someone asked earlier how bobby kennedy felt about nixon.
i will tell you my research in the book the one thing that was consistent about every political figure i looked at, republicans, democrats, is none of them liked richard nixon. they all didn't trust him, didn't like him, didn't respect him. i think that was a view held by a lot of americans and i think, you know, it speaks to how weak a candidate he was that in a year in which republicans should have, i think, won by a larger margin, he barely defeated humphrey. of course there is also the wallace factor which i think certainly hurt nixon's totals to some extent, it probably would have been a larger margin. >> we'll focus on the republican party next week. >> kathleen kennedy townsend, final question. 50 years later what's the legacy of 1968 for liberal causes and for the democratic party? >> i hope that the top legacy is that we should participate, we should get involved and we should have our voice heard.
and that the voice of the young have a lot to teach us. as my father said, they have the least ties to the past and the greatest stake in the future. i think that the young made enormous difference in 1968 and i think the young can make a lot of difference today. >> yeah, i think i tend to agree with that. i think one of the lessons in '68 was that, you know, you saw participation by not just young people, but all kinds of people who opposed the war in vietnam and who wanted to see political change, rallying behind two candidates and that i think led to an important political shift in the country and i think one of the takeaways for liberals in '68 is that engagement can mac a difference and i think if we could go 50th anniversary of lyndon johnson dropping out of the presidential campaign and a lot of that was because of the
antiwar activists and the liberals who came out and opposed his renomination. so i think kathleen kennedy townsend is right, a lot is about participation, absolutely. >> the book is called "american maelstrom: the 1968 election and the politics of division." our guest is michael cohen here in washington and joining us from west palm beach, florida, is kathleen kennedy townsend, the eldest daughter of senator robert f. kennedy. to both of you, thank you very much for being with us here on c-span and c-span 3's american history tv. we appreciate it. >> thank you. american history tv will continue in a moment. we are showing c-span's series "1968: america in turmoil" this month while congress is on its august recess. usually american history tv is only on the weekends, saturdays at 8:00 a.m. eastern through monday at 8:00 here on c-span 3. coming up, a discussion of political news coverage 50 years ago and how the three tv networks and print newspapers covered the chicago democratic convention. then, trail blazing women lawyers from the 20th century based on oral history interviews
with 100 senior female lawyers across the united states. and later, another look at liberal politics 50 years ago when the democratic party was very different than it is today. here are some of the programs you will see this weekend on american history tv. here on c-span 3. saturday night at 10:00 and sunday afternoon at 4:00 eastern a world war ii film directed by frank capra on the orders of general george marshall to explain the cause of the global war to u.s. troops. it's part of our real america series. then on oral histories sunday morning at 10:00 eastern a continuation of our interviews with former congress women. the first republican female representative from north carolina, sue myrick. talks about her life and election. then sunday afternoon, rosemarie
zagari looks at women in america's founding era and their political value to operate leaders speaking support to fight the evolution. a world that gave women the bases for demanding more rights in the future. that's this weekend on american history tv. we don't live in the same parts of the country, we don't have the same vocation, we don't have the same particularly outlook, but where we are all the same is men of color and women of color, is the way that we try to instill a sense of fear. you can call it respect, but a sense of fear at the sobering consequences of what could happen if an interaction with a policeman goes wrong. >> sunday nights on after words. d.l. hughley shares his thoughts on race in america with his book how not to get shot and other advice from white people. >> how about having a police department that is respectful of the public they work for. how about having a police department that is held to a i
higher standard than children that are supposed to be respectful. there is a certain point when children just don't listen. just don't listen. should they die for that? that's what they are called teenagers for. should we accept as a society is that really the best we can do to tell our children to be more responsible than the adults trained to serve their communities? >> watch after words, sunday night at 9:00 p.m. eastern on c-span 2's book tv. >> this summer marks the 50th anniversary of the chicago democratic convention. next on american history tv, a panel discussion on how the media covered the chaotic 1968 presidential nominating convention, especially the street rioting, and chicago police response. northwestern university's medill school of journalism hosted this event. it's nearly two hours. >> professor donna leff is a
award-winning reporter for chicago today, "the chicago tribune" and the ypsilanti press. she teaches courses in the analysis of urban issues, culture and business of journalism and media law and ethics. her research involves the role of minorities and race in media coverage and professional. she is involved in studies involving the impact of investigative reporting on social issues. donna, the floor is yours. >> thanks, abe. so to set the stage for tonight's discussion i'd like to just frame the issues briefly before i turn to our panel. we're charged with looking at the way the media covered the democratic national convention in august of 1968 and how the participants clashed both in perspectives and kind of literally physically. my memories of these nights depend on television and newspaper coverage. this was a time when chicago had four daies