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tv   Politics Public Policy Today  CSPAN  December 2, 2011 8:00pm-9:00pm EST

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>> live up from mitchell, south dakota, the likes of george mcgovern profiled in the c-span series ""the contenders." >> in 1968, many americans thought they were voting to bring our whole -- our sons home from vietnam. since then, 20,000 of our sons have come home in coffins. i have no secret plan. i have a public plan and it is one whose heart has eight for the last 10 years or the agony of vietnam. i will halt the bombing of indochina on inaugural day.
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>> it was 1972, to a plot 30 in the morning when george mcgovern delivered his acceptance speech. a few months later, he would lose badly to president richard nixon. tonight, the candidacy and legacy of george mcgovern. we are live from the mcgovern museum in mitchell, south dakota. joining us is provincial author scott farris. it was 2:30 when he delivered the acceptance speech in miami. why? >> it was emblematic of the whole mcgovern campaign, which was it was an insurgent campaign run against the establishment. what happened was, as you heard from senator mcgovern, he was very strong on the issue of vietnam. one of the things about senator government -- senator mcgovern as one of the most influential who ran for the presidency who was not successful, he went after the vietnam issue.
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he spoke about that war in ways no patinkin that had ever spoken about war before. -- no president -- presidential candidate had ever spoken about war before. it was strong language that unsettled lots of americans and caused them to worry about how he would win the war. it was an insurgent campaign to end the war against the democrats. there was a lot of conflict there that eventually lead over to the convention. there were some issues with the california delegation. there were issues with who he would choose for his widespread initial running mate. the convention got out of hand. when it was time to discuss his nomination, it was up to a plot 30 in the morning. instead of speaking before sending 5 million americans, he only spoke to about 50 million americans -- 75 million americans, he only spoke to about 15 million americans. >> we are going to do a deep
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dive into the 1972 campaign and the convention. joining us here from our studios in washington is jules witcover, a veteran political reporter who covered the mcgovern campaign for the los angeles times. featured prominently in the book "the boys on the bus" about the media coverage of that campaign. what is the atmosphere at the convention in 1972? >> exhaustion. >> exhaustion. [laughter] >> mcgovern gave the speech so late because flights continued to go on over various issues on the platform including the war in vietnam even though the platform had been adopted. it actually played out the next morning when his staff met to
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choose a vice president or to decide who should be vice president. it was done in an unsettling way to the. -- i am sure we get to it in this discussion. it led to probably the most disastrous part of the mcgovern campaign, which was the selection of the vice- presidential nominee. >> in the convention hall that night, are the people with him? are they still there? it is 2:30 in the morning. what the mcgovern dollars at the convention had never been to a convention -- >> the mcgovern followers at the convention had never been to a convention before. the support was initiated by mcgovern himself on the commission.
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a lot of people there had never been to any convention and had not been involved much in politics. it was a great experience for them. at any convention, staying up until 2:00 in the morning is very unusual. what is not unusual is that he gave that very important speech so early in the morning. >> we will talk about the reforms that led to those people at the convention. let's go back to the mcgovern museum in mitchell, south dakota. what is happening in our country at this time that leads to the triumph of an anti-war candidate to win the nomination for the democratic party? >> the great political legacy of george mcgovern changed the complexion of the modern democratic party. before the governor, the democrats had built the "new deal coalition," an amalgam of
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urban catholics and jews and organized labor. by 1968-1972, because of divisions that were exposed by the division over vietnam, senator mcgovern was one of those in the democratic party who said the party needed to reform or else it would die. he saw the party was losing white populace to seven white republicans over civil rights. they saw the moving out to the suburbs and saw that organized labor was shrinking again influence and size. he looked over the political landscape and saw opportunities for growth by reaching out for minority groups that had been ignored by both parties. reaching out to hispanic americans. reaching out to women. reaching out to the youth vote. 1972, because of the 26 amendment, with the first time 18-year-old could vote in the united states. he put together the "new politics coalition" to create his ruling democratic majority.
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coming out of the 1968 convention, he chaired a commission on reform, changing the -- changing the delegate selection process heavily. he was very pro-active in bringing women and minorities into the party. the winners are also losers. organized labor presented that their influence was going to diminish. it was a very wild ride because of the reforms mcgovern was able to put through the party. he had the advantage of an insurgent. he was the first anti- establishment handed it to win political favor. it caught the establishment off guard. as his success built up, it caught a lot of attention with the democrats. it was a very tumultuous year for the democratic party in 1972. the republicans were solidifying around richard nixon.
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nixon's -- probably the high point of the nixon presidency was 1972 when he went to china among other things. >> we will talk more about that as well later on. part of senator mcgovern's acceptance speech on that night in 1972 was about reforming the democratic party. he also takes aim at the republican party and what they are doing at their convention, which is being held shortly after the democrats, also in miami. take a look. >> we have had our fury and frustrations in this past month and at this convention. frankly, i welcome the contract with the empty events which will undoubtedly take place in miami next month. [applause] we chose this struggle. we reformed our party. we let the people in. [applause]
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so we stand today, not as a collection of back room and strategist, not as a tool of itt or any other special interest. [applause] >> scott farris, george mcgovern in 1972 saying "we let the people in." take us back to the 1968 convention when hubert humphrey gets the nomination. draw a clear connection for our viewers between the 1968 convention and mcgovern winning in 1972. >> let's go back to 1967. this is when the anti-war movement is starting to pick up steam. it was very frustrating to president lyndon johnson. the continued to believe america could achieve a victory in vietnam the anti-war activist start shopping for an alternative to johnson, someone who could challenge johnson in the primary, which is really
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unprecedented. when you think about prior to 1968 when a party tried to challenge a sitting president was 1912 when former president, theodore roosevelt. even a former president could knock off -- could not knock off a sitting president for the nomination. they searched for a number of people. they approached senator mcgovern and he declined. senator mccarthy of minnesota decided to run as an anti-war candidate. when he entered the new hampshire primary in 1968, he had a very strong showing against brother that johnson. he did not win, but he got enough votes that it may johnson aware he was getting -- he would have a tough time getting the renomination. center robert kennedy, predicted the's brother, also entered the presidential contest. -- president kennedy's brother, also entered the presidential
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contest. at that point, vice president humphrey still supported the war policies of the vice president johnson. senator kennedy, of course, was assassinated in june. that left only senator mccarthy to be the insurgent candidate. senator kennedy's followers expected mcgovern to enter at as a token candidate at the end. mcgovern did run a token presidency. ultimately, the nomination went to yemen -- hubert humphrey, which infuriated the anti-war movement. not only did he want a single primary, he did not enter a single primary. the democratic party was still being run by the big city political bosses, by the political machine. they wanted to have the process more open, to have underrepresented constituencies -- like minorities, like the
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young -- brought into the process. they wanted the process opened up so it was not in secret caucuses in people's homes, but where anybody could participate. the disillusion with however humphrey was selected in 1968 put pressure on the democratic party to reform. in trying to appease the insurgents, humphrey suggested reforms to the party. but with the background. it was the humphrey nomination back out raised the reformers and caught them to demand fundamental -- outraged the project -- out raised the reformers and caught them to demand fundamental change. >> what is the mood like at the 1968 convention? it was a much more tumultuous convention than the 1972 convention because the party itself was so divided over the
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war and personalities. that is the year in which there were riots in the streets of chicago the police department repressed them to the point that it was called a police riot. there was a big fight that the antiwar forces lost that generated tremendous heat. it continued through the convention. even after the nomination of humphrey, i remember i was there. humphrey was a very sad figure at his own celebratory moment. he knew was going on out in the street and all before of the convention. -- and out on the floor of the convention. that was my experience of the
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most destructive, but also the most exciting convention in my time. >> compare how humphrey was chosen at the nominee in 1968 to four years later the way mcgovern is chosen. >> a lot of it had to do with the floor rules. in 1968, they were selected as they had been for years by appointment, party bosses, or governors. if you were a party official, you got a free ticket to the 1968 convention by nature of your influence or as an officeholder. in 1972, those people who wanted to get to the convention had to run as delegates, supporting one of the primary candidates.
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some supported ed muskie, the establishment candidate, and he had all of those officeholders pulling for him. when his campaign disintegrated, the or left out of the convention hall. so many new people had never been to a convention. they filled the seats of the high and mighty who went to the convention in 1968. >> jules witcover, covering the 1968 and 1972 conventions for the los angeles times. we are uncovering george mcgovern, our 13th contender in our 14 week series. back at the mcgovern museum as scott farris, presidential author. he wrote about roosevelt's campaign in 1972. they will take your questions and comments. we will get your phone calls in a little bit. 202-rn central time, coscall
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737-0001. mountain-pacific time call 202- 737-0002. how did he get involved in the mcgovern-frazier convention. >> despite all the chaos, humphrey closed the gap on nixon in 1968. it was a very close campaign. a lot of irregulars said they had come very close in 1968. the insurgents said this was the last gasp of a dying political machine. humphrey was trying to unite the party. he decided to throw a bone to the insurgents by appointing a commission on delegate selection reform. they needed to look for several qualifications. one, did they have credibility with the insurgents?
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i also wanted somebody who was loyal to the party, who would make it worth it for the regulars. mcgovern, unlike mccarthy, had also been concern -- mcgovern had actually campaigned for humphrey. he never broke from the party. the third thing they were looking for is they were worried that the people would look at this as a way to manipulate the process to ensure the nomination. everyone was so short george mcgovern would not be a viable candidate in 1972, he seemed like an obvious choice. he could not manipulate the system because his candidacy was a long shot. he was appointed to the commission to be the chair. there were about two dozen members. people say how were they able to push these reforms through? the people who would most likely be opposed to reform, particularly organized labor, work cut out of the process. the commission was dominated by those who intended to open up
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the process while the old regulars did not think it was worth bothering with the, they did not think anything would come of it. >> will or the actual reforms? >> the most significant -- what were the actual reforms? >> the message dividend thing -- the encouraged most states to use primaries instead of caucuses. if you did have a caucus, you were required to make it open and well-publicized and publicly available a lot of times previously that you were a party official, you automatically have a chance to be a delegate. a lot of time those party delegates would name others. they would pick whomever they wanted to take. sometimes the decision was made a year before the convention. they try to open up the process to make it more boater responsive. they also try to do away with the winner-take-all format of primaries and the tip proportional to give insurgent
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candidates a better chance to build teams and overtake an establishment candidate. most controversially, i suppose, is they decided on a passive approach of no discrimination against anybody who would like to be a delegate. they adopted a very proactive -- delegations had to reflect the makeup of the state's party by general -- gender, ethnicity, race, age. i tried to get more women, minorities, and youth into the process. the party was striving for reasonable representation of those groups. after mcgovern left and a different chair took over, the commission adopted a significant quota that the representation should be equal to the state's population. those -- that was the basic just of reforms by the commission.
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>> do the reforms stick to day? >> they very much do. they were derided by conservatives and republicans as a quota system democrats were adding this quota as an affirmative action program. alternately, but parties have adopted these reforms. primaries are now a report -- primaries are now referred to as caucuses and they are widely publicized. it's to go to a republican convention, 50% of the delegates are going to be female. that was a radical idea back in 1968. let me give you a couple of quick numbers to give you a sense of how things change. in 1968, only party% of the democratic delegates were women. in 1972, 40% were women. in 1972, 12%-13% were at african-americans. there was a change in what the
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party looks like and it was very dramatic. >> scott farris, the impact to date -- is there a long-term impact? we are heading into the 2012 presidential election with the iowa caucus coming up soon. >> reforms help non establishment candidates get a foothold. if you have good ground and a lot of dedicated volunteers will show up at the caucuses and primaries, you can overcome the disadvantages. as republicans have followed suit, i believe this is the first year that republicans will have no winner-take-all primaries. new gingrich is filling the role of the insurgent candidate this year. the establishment candidate is mitt romney.
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newt gingrich is benefiting from reforms first initiated by george mcgovern back in 1972. these reforms have broaden participation. they have stayed with us in both parties, much as the democrats. >> gary hart was george mcgovern's 1972 campaign manager. here is what he had to say about the democratic primary reform efforts. >> a think the history will show that he helped save the democratic -- i think history will show that he helped save the democratic party simply by chairing the mcgovern reform commission. by his insistence on the democratic party truly becoming a democratic party. because of his efforts and the efforts of many of you, the convention of 1972, as interesting as it was, helped
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save the democratic party and helped open the doors for young people, women, minorities, and people who had come up to that time, then shut out. it is fashionable for people to say there is not much difference between the parties, but there really is. there is a necessity for a democratic party and the kind of democratic party george mcgovern envisioned and helped create. >> what is your reaction, jules witcover or? -- jules witcover? >> mcgovern's role was a critical role. i go back to before 1968. i can remember in 1960 when john kennedy was running. he, his aide, and speech writer would get on an airplane, fly around, and visit governors and
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mayors who were so empowered but you could pick up the nomination that way. not with the people, but with the officials and politicians. >> jules witcover, what was it like to see these new faces in 1972 and going forward at the conventions? >> it was very exciting. these people were into it more than some of the ones who had been to 20 past 30 conventions over their lifetime. they have their hands on the leaders and a new was born to happen. there was a level of uncertainty that was injected by these new people, not only in voting for the nominee but the platform committee hearings that preceded the actual selection of the provincial nominee. >> scott farris, let me ask you
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about the short-term impact of these reforms. real briefly, if we could, in 1972, the reforms that he puts in place -- do they actually benefit him when it comes to voter turnout to beat richard nixon? >> it helped him get the nomination. the understood because he chaired the reform commission -- he understood the new process. i do not think we try to manipulate it to his benefit, he tried to be open and fair about it. he understood that something had fundamentally changed in the process and he was able to take advantage of that in terms of winning the nomination. some of the others were playing with the older roles. his constituency still have not matured. senator mcgovern only got 37.5% of the popular vote in the election. democrats had not yet won over
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women. they had not gotten the used boat the way they have today. if you look at today's democratic party, it has had a lasting impact. if you look at the coalition that mcgovern put together in 1972, highly educated voters. that is the coalition that gave barack obama the presidency in 2008. this is the very -- barry goldwater candidacy that led to the ronald reagan presidency in 1980. you can give george mcgovern quite a bit of credit for the barack obama currency in 2008. the constituency just wasn't ready in 1972. >> tonight's contenders, george mcgovern, the congressman and senator from south dakota, and the democratic nominee party president in 1972. our post -- our first call is from mike in new york. >> mcgovern became the head of the middle east policy council
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after deciding not to run for the president again in 1992. he submitted a proposal for president clinton calling on the united states to protect access to israeli -- middle east oil. did president clinton accept the proposal? if so, what happened as it affects others? >> scott farris and jules witcover all are here shaking their heads. scott farris, his legacy? >> the certainly was very interested in middle east affairs. he was always interested in helping with the peace agreements. president clinton did not accept that early on. of course, per the clinton at the end of this with nancy made a herculean effort to try to make that happen. -- at the end of his presidency made a herculean effort to try to make that happen.
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mcgovern was a very strong supporter of israel, but was very outspoken on palestinian rights. >> we will be speaking more about mcgovern's post 72 convention life, his legacy, and efforts across the world, specifically on hundred. first, let's hear from borden in illinois. >> i was a college student and voted for mcgovern as a 20-year- old. later on, hearing the things of the nixon groups and their dirty tricks, i saw a program where someone claimed that they chose mcgovern as the weakest link and for their dirty tricks, made it easier for governor to predict for mcgovern to get the nomination. >> jules witcover, do you want to weigh in on that? >> in the 1972 campaign, there
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were a lot of dirty tricks aimed at muskie. he was the front runner at the time. it was not so much setting it up for mcgovern because he was such a long shot that it would have been really requiring clairvoyants on the part of people to set a policy. it was more that they wanted to get rid of muskie. they thought he was the toughest candidate. they did a number of things, including spreading word in new hampshire, which had a very heavy french-canadian population, that he used certain words slurring the french-canadians. they had another situation where
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a number of black voters called, urging people to vote for muskie, assuming that would backfire. there would be a backlash against muskie. these things all came out, but they really were not the reason ed muskie did not get the nomination. musky's own campaigns had problems that were just as troublesome to him as were mcgovern's. >> we will talk about and must be coming up brigit -- we will talk more about ed muskie coming up. first, we need to talk about why george mcgovern would run in the first place. scott farris, what makes him decide to run for the presidency in 1972? >> if it goes back to 1968 when he filled in for bobby kennedy and was the standard bearer for
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his delicate because they wanted him to be a stand in for kennedy. been participated in a debate between your country and gene mccarthy. everyone thought mcgovern had won that debate. it was that moment that he realized he had presidential aspirations because he had gone on a national stage between two of the beating democrats in the country. he began considering a run at that point and decided fairly early in 1969 that he would be a candidate. he felt he with the right person to bring together these old irregulars and the new insurgents and create a democratic majority. also, he personally despite richard nixon. mcgovern rejected the construct of the cold war. the ran against a well-known communist in south dakota. he had always despised him for how he had run against adlai
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stevenson in 1952 and by adding 56. he relished the fight and it was a great incentive for him to run. >> in vietnam -- what is happening between 1968-1972 on that issue? >> nixon said in 1968 he had a secret plan to end the war in vietnam. the and it up escalating the war in 1969 and 1970 by having u.s. troops invade cambodia and try to disrupt supply lines. early in the nixon presidency, the war seem to be expanding, not winding down. this outraged the anti-war movement and gave mcgovern more emphasis to run against nixon. later as it came closer to the election, nixon understood he needed to start disengaging american troops so that by 1972, there were only a couple hundred thousand combat troops in vietnam. as mcgovern was making the
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decision to run, he thought nixon was escalating the war, not winding it down. >> 1971, the pentagon papers or first published. what is the impact of this? >> the pentagon papers were not as revealing as they were said to be. a lot of things in the pentagon papers were known. it gave more credibility to what publicthe time nixon's failing again to protest of the vietnam war. the impression now is that the country was totally in uproar against the war in vietnam in the late 1960's. it really was not. it was split. >> you have the 1970 anti-war contest -- protests, the can -- kent state shootings, those kinds of things. >> these are things nixon very
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effectively played on. there were just as many people who deplored the mess in the streets, the pictures of these wild-looking young people with their long hair, a strange clothes. they offended mainstream america -- mainstream america. of the war was a particularly -- was particularly effective with dealing with the democratic situation. it was a rallying point for boaters and activist -- voters and activists. nixon also made great use of the war by making slanderous remarks against people who demonstrated. he ran in 1968 and again in 1972
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on a law and order agenda. he was going to protect the american people from these rallies who were starting fires and having rallies in the streets. that is why it is painted now that the vietnam war really built the protest. it did do that, but it also solidified opposition to the war to the advantage of richard nixon. >> scott farris, all of this and the impact of the war on mcgovern -- what did it do? >> akaka to lose perspective a little bit, to be honest. -- it caused him to lose perspective a little bit, to be honest. he made several trips to vietnam and saw soldiers who had lost limbs and been crippled for life.
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he spoke again about the war in terms that were very strong, harsh, and uncompromising. he gave a speech before the u.s. senate in 1970 and said "this chamber reeks of blood." when you use that language, it will energize the anti-war folks, but it surprises a lot of voters who thought that he would withdraw american without any honor and maybe not worry about what would happen to the prisoners of war there. he was so passionate about war, the used language to describe it. he also wanted to did the american people the sense that they have ownership of this war. they were partly culpable. this was a problem with american society that they could not see what america was doing wrong in vietnam. politically, ultimately, i think it hurt him, certainly in the general election because americans really do not want to hear the country and the
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military spoken about in that way. the democrat's image of being "anti military" is one they have tried to shake for several decades. >> with this is motivation for running for president? >> his desire to win the war with the most important thing for him. when he did lose he said, "i feel so strongly about this war that we brought peace that much closer, this campaign was worth the." the felt very passionately that this was the wrong war. he was a war hero himself. he served as a bomber pilot in world war ii. he was not a pacifist. he thought vietnam was a mistake. he thought it was an anti- colonial war. he thought the u.s. had misunderstood it as a war of communist expansion. >> we want to talk about the early life of george mcgovern before we talk about the 1972 campaign. the mcgovern campaign hired a documentary filmmaker, charles
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guggenheim, to create a series of short films about the candidate. as we turn to tell the story about young george mcgovern, here is a brief look at the guggenheim fellow. >> he was christened george stanley mcgovern. birthplace, avon south to it -- avon, south dakota. he grew up in mitchell and went to school there. but the most important lessons were learned at home. his mother, a gentle spirit. from his father, christian principles and hard work. his father had spent his boyhood in the illinois coal country where 14 hour days were measured out at 10 cents a bucket. but he found time to read scripture and decided to abandon the mines for politics. in 1899, he was ordained a minister. reverend mcgovern built his last church in mitchell when george was a fight. as a boy, george had his
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father's love of history, but he would not despair the troubles of his own time. -- he would not be scared at the troubles of his own time. -- be spared the troubles of his own time. the memory would live with them his whole life. >> we are at the mcgovern museum. scott farris, tell us about george mcgovern. what through his life, starting early on, influenced him -- to find him? >> it is important to remember his father was a minister in the wesleyan minister -- wesleyan methodist denomination. it discovered drinking, dancing, and going to movies. what george mcgovern got from his father was a strong sense of what is right and what is wrong to the point that he is often accused of not being moral, but the moralistic -- but moralistic.
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he got the notion of right and wrong and the notion of doing good. he wrote a lot about the social gospel -- how to apply christianity to social affairs. feeding the country -- feeding the hungry, etc. he was a shy child, which would later at influence him. the perhaps even had a learning disability and was slow. when a couple of teachers realised he was very shy, they forced him to read aloud in class when he was in high school, we had a history teacher and debate coach. they occurred mcgovern to be a debater. he won a number of states and won a scholarship to go to wesleyan. he and his team won some national competitions. that early childhood formed him in terms of becoming a public
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figure. he cared a lot -- he was a good communicator, a good speaker, make good arguments, but also cared a lot about principles and public policy. >> world war ii. >> he had another teacher in world war ii. he had a gym teacher that told mcgovern to jump over eight vaulting horse. the teacher said he was a physical power. that really stung mcgovern. he thought about it for a number of years. at dakota wesleyan, a classmate said he would like him to take flying lessons. mcgovern said he was afraid to fly, but he remembered what the gym teacher at sensible years before and decided to take private lessons. he became a pilot. when japan bombed pearl harbor, mcgovern and his friends drove down to omaha and enlisted in the army air corps. he became a pilot of be-24
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bombers. he was stationed in italy. he flew 35 combat missions, which is what you were required to fly before you could go home. he was a skilled pilot. he was admired by his crew of 10. the b-24 was a hard place to fly. he had emergency landings where -- that were very risky, but every time he brought he and his crew home safely. later in life after he developed a friendship with historian stephen ambrose, ambrose wrote "wild blue" which highlighted the air war during war ii. >> how does his early political career define his presidency -- provincial candidacy? >> he initially had thought he would be a teacher. the initially thought he would be a minister. when he came back from the war,
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he entered the seminary to follow in his father's footsteps. he discovered the only thing he liked about the ministry was giving sermons. he thought everything else was not up his alley. the switch to history and got a doctorate degree in history. he is only one of two men who had at a ph.d. be nominated for president. he had a background in eastern europe that led him to believe the cold war concept was all -- all wrong. it was simply protecting the traditional fear of influence. he was born to be a professor, but he was also very interested in politics. he got actively in the 1952 stevenson campaign in south dakota. he started writing letters to the editor. he caught the eye of state democrats who asked if he would be interested in becoming the executive secretary of the south
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dakota democratic party. the democrats in south dakota at that point were in bad shape. there were 110 legislators in south dakota in 1953 two were democrats. it was quite a challenge. mcgovern thought it was a challenge were taking. he slowly built up the democratic party. he recruited party workers, candidates, raised money, wrote speeches. the democrats got 24 seats in 1954. in 1956, mcgovern to the party he helped build up and ran for congress. he of a one again in 1958 when he defeated a former south dakota governor. in 1960, he made his first bid for the united states senate. he lost to a longtime senator from south dakota. john kennedy felt that perhaps his candidacy had brought mcgovern down, so he offered mcgovern a position to run a
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program in the kennedy administration. >> we are talking about george mcgovern's legacy, his candidacy. we are going to delve into the primary run he made in 1971. before we do that, let's go to court in akron, ohio. >> thank you, and good evening c-span. a thank-you for this wonderful series. i only hope some day you will do one about the cabinet. anyway, my comment and my question is i heard somewhere -- i do not know what the truth is behind this -- but moments before senator robert f. kennedy was assassinated in 1968 after winning the california primary, senator mcgovern was actually participating in a conversation with senator kennedy. i wondered if it has been revealed what the conversation was about and if you know anything about that phone
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conversation? >> jules witcover? >> i have never heard that. i was in the hotel kitchen at the time robert kennedy was assassinated. i spent a great deal of time since then exploring all of the details of the time leading up to robert kennedy's debt. -- death. i have never run across that story. i do know that in his hotel room, he made a call to a number of people to look over to the next phase of the campaign. he was going to new york to campaign for delegates there. he did talk to many people. he may well have talked to senator mcgovern as well. there was a primary in south
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dakota the same night. i have not heard he actually talked to him, but it is possible. >> mike in california, thanks for joining us. >> hello. just a few things i want to throw out. anthony lucas in "nightmare" said dirty tricks were -- i take it but it -- i think nixon white ran a backlash campaign rather than a law and order. unfortunately, the only state mcgovern carried was massachusetts. i am it from there. at the time we probably festooned our cars with bumper stickers saying "do not blame me, i am from massachusetts." that is all i have to say. >> george mcgovern always resented the implication that he won the nomination because richard nixon became involved
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with the dirty tricks against muskie. mcgovern said he always thought ed muskie was a weak front runner. he did not have the fire in the belly. he clearly did not understand that the rules had changed because of the reform commission. the notion that must be bought the commission -- the nomination simply because of nixon's dirty tricks, senator mcgovern always thought that was bunk. he abolished the nixon campaign was always doing little things. they would find that the buses had been canceled before rallies and they could not get people to and from. they would see somebody at a mcgovern rally holding up a hammer and sickle flag of the soviet union flag. there were dirty tricks involved, but he did not believe that was why he won the nomination. >> john in virginia. >> i read the "wild blue" and
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only then learned about mcgovern's war record. i remember the 1972 campaign. it was the first time i could vote. but i do not recall mcgovern ever mentioning his war record. i think it would have given his anti-war stance more credibility if he had. can you comment on that? >> before our guest comment on that, i want to show what george mcgovern had to say about his experience as a world war ii bomber pilot. c-span sat down with him recently in his office at mitchell, south dakota. >> i flew 35 missions in a b-24 bomber, which was the biggest one we had at that time. it was before the b-52. we were hitting the most heavily
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defended targets in europe. i wanted to bail out and i wanted my crew to bail out, but i have a little scotch blood and i knew the planes cost about $300,000. that is nothing by today's standards. we have a b-1 that cost $1 billion, but it was a lot of money then. i started bringing those planes back to home base. for that, i got a distinguished fine for it. >> -- distinguished flying cross. >> there it is at the mcgovern museum. we are live from their for our series on john -- for our contenders' series on a jaunt -- george mcgovern. why did he not talk about his military service? >> if it was the subject of a
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lot of debate about how much he should emphasize his work -- war record. he never just completely ignored it, but he was specifically encouraged by his staff to exclude it from his nomination acceptance speech. the rationale was that they could not be antiwar and discuss his war record. it would have been to his benefit if he had talked about it a little bit more because people got the mistaken idea that he was a pacifist who did not believe in using the armed services for any purpose. he endorsed the use of force in kosovo. he was not a pacifist, but it was a decision they fell the should not mention being an anti-war candidate. >> was is war hero status talked about? >> he had a duty to the campaign. he had a slogan when he wound up
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his speeches late in the campaign about leaving war behind and coming home. another one of his slogans was "come home america." it is in the context of that that there were no references to his wartime experience. >> before we talk a little bit more about george mcgovern's primary run, the big get this phone call from jail in massachusetts. >> i recall watching senator mcgovern and robert woodbridge at the time of precedent for's of fuel. they were interviewing -- president ford's funeral. they were interviewing george mcgovern. he said in the end he had voted for ford in 1976. he said he discussed it with his family afterwards and felt they
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had done that as well. i about fell off my chair because i am is a strong democrat. i wonder if that has come into the midst of information about senator mcgovern ever? >> scott farris? >> he did have great affection for gerald ford. i do not know that he actually voted for him, but he had problems with the carter. president carter had not been very supportive of him in 1972. even though president carter basically bar of the mcgovern strategy to get his nomination in 1976. he was also a little hurt that the magnitude of senator mcgovern's loss was be was a bit of a pariah in democratic circles. i am sure there were some hurt feelings. he worked with a number of republicans. he and bob dole partnered for almost an entire lifetime on the issue of ending a hunter in the world. he was capable of working across
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the aisle. >> george mcgovern, the world war ii hero, the congressman from south dakota, the senator from their decides to make a run for the presidency. having decided to run, mcgovern announces his candidacy from sioux falls, south dakota on january 18, 1971. here is a piece of the campaign fell but together by charles guggenheim on mcgovern's decision to make that presidential run. >> this country was conceived by men who had a dream of human dignity and justice and concern for each other at. if we began now to match our policies with our ideas, then i believed it is yet possible that we will come to admire this country, not simply because we were born here, but because of
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the kind of great and good land that you and i want it to be and that, together, we have made. that is my hope. that is my reason for seeking the presidency of the united states. [applause] >> jules witcover, what is mcgovern's chances heading into the primary in 1971? >> considered very slim. the was not a really dynamic personality. he was a very calm man. very soft-spoken. he lacked fire except when he talked about the war in vietnam. >> was the considered dull? >> some considered him a bidull.
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his niceness was sometimes ridiculed, but it was genuine. when he ran in the first primaries, he was regarded basically as a weak replacement for robert kennedy because robert kennedy was so dynamic as a candidate. it was also because there is a certain uncertainty to be the nominee at that time. he had been very impressive as of 3's nominee in 1968. he was also a rather soft-spoken man most of the time, but he had a terrible temper that sometimes came through. the seldom happened with george mcgovern. >> who else was running and how they compare to george mcgovern? >> the other senators were fred
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harris -- they were all bunched up together. nomination to's lose. some of the things that happened in new hampshire including appearing to cry in a serious moment outside the local newspapers for things that had been printed about his wife. there was some dispute about whether he was actually crying or not. it was snowing at the time at muskie, himself, said he was not crying. that was the impression, nevertheless. the only reason his tennessee collapsed in new hampshire --
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his candidacy collapsed in new hampshire was because of his position on vietnam. mcgovern left no doubt where he stood on the war. mcgovern was genuinely against the war, but he was the little -- belittled in those days. although he was revered by the people who were against the war in vietnam, there were other people who did not see it that way. they would not dream of voting for george mcgovern. >> charles guggenheim felled part of the campaign, including the senators speaking to a group of vietnam war veterans at a hospital. here is a little bit of that conversation. >> they love their country, there is a question about that. you are about halfway mad at it,
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are you not? >> when you lose control of your bowels', your bladder, york sterility whenever father a child, you'll never walk again for the rest of your life, you are 23-years old, you do not want to be a burden for your family -- to you know where you go from here? a nursing home. and you stay there until you die. nobody thinks of a disabled veteran or a disabled anybody except another disabled person. if you fall out of your wheelchair, the you know who is the first person to come to be some help? a guy in a wheelchair, not somebody who is walking. >> one of the unconscionable attacks of this day is what you just said -- people who are desperately in need of help cannot qualify for it under the present system. i love the united states, but i'd love it enough


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