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tv   The Contenders  CSPAN  August 9, 2016 8:02am-10:07am EDT

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>> ladies and gentlemen of the convention, my fellow citizens, i accept your nomination and your program. [applause] now that you've made your decision, i will fight to win
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that office with all of my heart and soul. with your help, i have no doubt that we will win. help me to do the job of conflict and of campaign. we will justify our glorious task and the loyalty of millions who look to us for compassion, for understanding, and for honesty. we will serve our great tradition greatly. i ask of you all you have. i will give you all i have. >> that was our contender this week, adlai stevenson, excepting
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the democratic nomination for president in 1952. we are joined by richard norton smith in libertyville, illinois. who was this one-term governor of illinois? >> for millions of americans, that is all he was. the one-term governor of illinois. they have never heard a voice like his. they did not know that a political revolution was being touched off that night. for the next decade, adlai stevenson would be the voice of the democratic party, someone you would transform american politics, even though he was never successful in his quest for the white house. >> how did he get the nomination in 1952? >> he is the last candidate to be drafted. he is the last candidate to require one more balanced at the convention. he did not want the nomination
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is the short answer. there was a vacuum in the democratic party. harry truman was retiring. there was no obvious successor. adlai stevenson did a remarkable welcoming address at the chicago convention that had the effect on most of william jennings bryant. it touched off -- a couple days later, he was delivering the speech you just heard. >> welcome to libertyville and "the contenders." we're looking at the man who ran for president and changed american politics. tonight, our focus is adlai's stevenson, 1900 to 1965. we are joined by a well-known author and historian richard norton smith. e're live from libertyville,
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ill. in just a minute, we'll be joined by newton minow, who worked at new adlai stevenson. we will be joined by senator adlai stevenson iii, the son of adlai stevenson. richard norton smith, before we leave the office, there are some things sitting around that we want to learn a little bit more about it. first of all, what is this a hand? >> stevenson said that he suffered from a bad case of hereditary politics. there are multiple to narrations of stevenson -- generations of stevensons in the story. the link in connection was a
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very powerful one. -- lincoln connection was a very powerful one. this is a cast of lincoln's hand. >> also on the desks is an address book. some of the names and this address book include eleanor roosevelt, jackie kennedy, john steinbeck. >> it hence -- he was a very unusual, a non-politician and a new ways. he -- in many ways. eventually, by millions of americans who proudly declared themselves stevensonians. >> standing between us is this old office chair. cabinetis stevenson's
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terror. he had an historic stand of the american passenger to the united nations. he was made a member of the cabinet, this is the chair that commemorate spot. somewhat difficult relationship that he had with the kennedy administration. >> you referred to the dynasty, the stephenson political dynasty. here on the wall or some artifacts. whitevernor stevenson's said -- his grandfather was vice president of the united states. under grover cleveland. he ran again in 1900 under william jennings bryant. this is grandfather stevenson's hat. >> thank you for joining us tonight. live from libertyville, we will
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work our way it over to the barn on the family farm. we are currently in the study. next to it is a barn. this is a working farm at some point. we will work our way over there where there is a new display about adlai stevenson. first, we want to show you some campaign commercials so you can see some of the video of adlai stevenson. these are from 1956 and 1952. one of them was felt right here in this study. >> i am sitting right here in my own library. thanks to television, i can talk to millions of people that i could not reach any other way. i am not going to let this spoil me. i am not going to stop traveling in this campaign. i can talk to you, but i cannot
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listen to you. i cannot hear about your problems, about your hopes and your affairs. to do that, i have to go out and see you in person. that is what i have been doing. for the past several years, i've traveled all over this country. i have been in every state. i have met thousands of you and millions of you have seen me in. ♪ ♪ stevenson! ♪ i would rather have a man with a hole in his shoes and a man with a hole in everything he says. i would rather have a man that knows what to do when it gets to be the prez.
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i know the gov will bring the peace and joy ♪ adlai, love you madly but you did for your own great state you are going to do for the rest of the 48 ♪ >> old macdonald had a farm back in the 31 conditions filled him with alarm back in 31
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♪ to vote for adlai stevenson a vote vote there of vote for stevenson everywhere all the america loves that farm >> if you should allow it to be your president, next november, i should be the better for having done it, i am sure. because i know that the strength and wisdom that i need must be drawn from you and the people. finally, i hope the next time we meet, it will be a person to
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person and face to face. >> i am adlai stevenson. you and i have been hearing from our republican friends that things are so good, they could not be better. do you think that things cannot be better for the small-business man, like this one? small business profits are down 52%. that they cannot be better for our farmers? like these? farm income is down 25%. our year schools good enough for the richest nation in history? a third -- they need a third of a million more classrooms. what about you? are you out of that? you have a comfortable bank role in the bank? are you paying less for the things that you buy? or more? do you really think things cannot be better? of course they can. working together, we will make them better.
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>> vote democratic. >> rising cost of farming. lower farm income. caught in a squeeze. a vote democratic, the party for you, not just the few. vote for adlai stevenson. >> we are back live at the stevenson farm in libertyville. we are now joined by newton minow. he is the former chairman of the federal communications commission. for our purposes tonight, he has worked with and was an associate of adlai stevenson for many years. newton minow if you could start by telling us when did you first meet of honor -- gov. stevenson ?
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>> i was a law clerk at the supreme court. one of our professors came to visit one day. he later offered my co-clerk a job as his assistant in springfield. it turned out that howard was not interested, but i was. i ended up being interviewed by the governor. at 7:00 for breakfast in the spring of 1952. he said to me, if i hire you, young man, it is there any reason why he would not take the job? it is my current boss runs for president, and it was rumored that he would be a candidate, if he asked me to stay with them, i would like to do that. the governor looked at me and
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said, i do not think that is very likely. i then drove into his next appointment. i went to work at the supreme court. i picked up "the new york times ." it said truman offers stevenson the presidential nomination. this was the morning after president truman had asked him to run. i was hired and are reported for work. >> what was the known for as governor? >> even as a student, i worked in his campaign in 1948. he was known as being totally honest, which was not necessarily a prerequisite for election in illinois. he was a different kind of candidate. he was honest, and he was an intellectual, he cared deeply
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about to good government. he brought a whole different culture to the office of governor. >> richard norton smith, 1952, sets the stage for us. >> there was a sense that the democrats have been power for 20 years. even the most partisan democrat fact that perhaps the party and the country would be well served by a change. the great issue was which republican party would replace harry truman if harry truman were to leave? would it be be isolationist conservative midwestern party or would it be the international
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modern republican of the eisenhower? stevenson had to calculate the chances of which party he might be running against. he was very reluctant to iran. he did not want to run. -- he was very reluctant to iran. >> he did not want to run. he did not want to run against dwight eisenhower. it was like running against jesus christ. if it had been robert taft as the opponent, adlai stevenson would have relished running. there would have been a clear difference in philosophy. you have to remember the democrats tried to draft general eisenhower. the democrats tried to give eisenhower to run as a democrat. eisenhower was a candidate of both parties.
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>> newton minow, when adlai stevenson did the welcoming address at the democratic national convention in chicago in 1962 -- in 1962, was he considered a candidate? >> he was not that well known. i remember the first time he appeared on national television. he was on "meet the press." he was never any good on television. he was a lot of fun and a great personality and you always went away feeling better about yourself. when you watched him on television, he was either nervous, but he was never himself. the country did not know him. >> he gets the welcoming address and he gets drafted, went on the second or third ballot.
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>> that is right. it was really unfortunate because the timing was wrong. if he had run for president against dwight eisenhower, he, of lakewood of one. >> remember how -- he probably could have won. >> who did you pick for a running mate? senator fromman, alabama. he had to worry about keeping the solid south solid. >> exactly. was picked at the last minute. >> the city had a relationship? >> not really. the way we do things in this country -- >> did you want to be on the 52 ticket? >> he was always interested in running for president.
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adlai stevenson did not like him. >> he ended up being the vice president in 56. >> harry truman might tempt even less -- like to him even less. >> harry truman in 1952 and its relationship with adlai stevenson. >> he is regarded as a great president. to commit the united states to the cold war. the fact is at the time, he was a very unpopular president. the korean war was an unpopular war. he fired douglas macarthur, there is a consensus that we did the right thing for the right
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reason, but at great political cost. harry truman had been in power seven years. he had decided seven years was enough. he had the power to permit 10 from becoming the nominee. he probably had the power to make adlai stevenson the nominee. without power went to the dead weight of the truman administration. my sense is that true men and -- truamn and stevenson's relationship never quite recovered. >> there was another factor. there was a lot of corruption in the democratic party. there had been a scandal with one of president truman's ts.istanc
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it was not a happy thing to become the nominee in 1952. as i left the supreme court, i went to see the chief justice to say goodbye. he was very close friends with truman. the chief said to me, your guy is not going to make it. i said, what? he said, i was with the president last night. he told me that he has lost patience with adlai stevenson. it is going to be barkley. they tried to get it for barkley, but everybody said, he is too old. >> we are live from libertyville, the stevenson
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family farm, about 40 miles outside of chicago. the phone numbers are on the screen because we want to hear from you as well. the results in 1952, by the way, that election was held 59 years ago tonight, november 4, 1952. adlai stevenson wons 27 million votes. he got 89 electoral votes and won nine states. dwight eisenhower, 442 electoral votes. he won the 34 million votes. he won the rest of the states, which would have been 41 states. >> one thing to keep in mind is
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compared with 1948. in losing, stevenson got 3 million more votes than truman had three years earlier. dwight eisenhower got 12 million more votes. you have the largest increase in voter participation since the 18 twenties. you had two outstanding candidates. each were able to excite the electorate. >> here is a little bit more of adlai stevenson at the 1952 convention. >> what does concern me is not just winning this election. but how it is one. how we can take advantage of this great opportunity to debate issues sensibly and soberly.
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i hope and pray that we democrats will win or lose, can campaign, not as a crusade to exterminate the opposing party, as our pundit seem to prefer, but as a great opportunity to educate and elevate a people whose destiny is leadership. peopleell the american the truth, there are no gameins without pain. >> newton minow, where were you 59 years ago tonight? >> i was in the governor's mansion. one thing that topped the american people about stevenson was the way he conceded defeat. he gave the most graceful, patriotic talk.
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he pledged to support president eisenhower. he ended with a story that he remembered from abraham lincoln. it was a story about a little boy who stubbed his toe in the dark. he said, it hurts too much to laugh, but i am not old enough to cry. people saw his character with that. he was a patriot who loved his country and was willing to support a new president. >> let's take some calls. the first call is paul in iowa. >> hello. i want to thank c-span for doing this. this is a great series.
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i have recently finished reading -- he puts forth a very negative view of adlai stevenson campaign for president. he claimed he spent too much time attacking nixon. it was a blemish on a very stellar career. the think that the campaign was a low point of stevenson's political career? did he spend too much time attacking nixon? should she have focused on farm issues more? should he have focused on war and peace issues? thank you very much. >> let's start with newton minow. 1956 campaign.
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>> 1956 campaign, in my opinion, was not as stellar as it was the 1952 campaign. the reason for the emphasis on nixon in 1956 was the fact that president eisenhower had suffered a bad heart attack and had some bad health problems. there was great concern in the country of what would happen if present eisenhower -- president eisenhower was reelected and he died during the second term and nixon became president. there was a good reason to go after nixon because nixon did not have the character to be president. >> i think the 1956 campaign, from a historical standpoint, it is the campaign that laid the groundwork for the new frontier. that is the campaign when adlai
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stevenson embraced the idea of a nuclear test ban treaty. that is the campaign when he endorsed a constitutional amendment so 18-year-olds could vote. in terms of foreshadowing policy to,, 1956 turns out to open a fountainhead of ideas. you are right, the last speech on election eve where he said the medical evidence suggested a real possibility that richard nixon would become president. that is something that tom dewey had not done in 1944 under somewhat similar circumstances. you did not go there. in some ways, he paid a price for that. >> you are right. the nuclear test ban, which was
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very unpopular point of view to take in 1956, he took it very courageously because he believed in it deeply. he said -- someone asked what the weapons would be in world war iv, and he said there would be sticks and stones. >> between 1952 and 1956, was adlai stevenson and going to get the nomination again? >> i would have to answer that with a yes and no. he hoped that might someday be president, but he also knew that if you ran against president eisenhower again, the odds were very much against them. i was one of the few people around him that kurds to and not to run in 1956. he felt an obligation to the democratic party. >> here is a little bit of adlai
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stevenson at the 1956 convention. >> i come here on a solid mission. -- solemn mission. i accept your nomination and your program. [applause] i pledged to every resource of mind and strength that i possess to make a good win for our country and our party. four years ago, i stood in this same place and under those same words to you. four years ago, i did not seek the honor that you bestowed upon
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me. this time, as he may have noticed, it was not entirely unsolicited. [laughter] [applause] there is another big difference. that time, we lost. this time, we will win. [applause] >> newton minow, you started laughing what you listen to that video. >> when he said it was unsolicited, it reminded me. in 1955, stevenson gave a speech at the university of texas and i was asked to go with them. it was right after president eisenhower had suffered his heart attack. lyndon johnson, the majority
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leader of the senate, had also suffered a heart attack. we were to spend the night at london's branch -- lyndon's grant. we got there late. mrs. johnson was very upset because the doctor told her about lyndon johnson should be sleeping. and he was get up -- he was up until 2:00 in the morning. on the way home, just the two of us for traveling. adlai stevenson said to me, if i want the nomination next year, i will have to run in the primaries. i said, they are right. if president eisenhower does not to run, every democrat is going to want the nomination and you'll have to fight for it. if president eisenhower does run, you ought to forget about it. he said, i am not going to run
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in those primaries. i am not going to be a candidate like i am running for sheriff. i am not gone to do. of course, he ended up doing it because that is where the system -- that is the way the system operated. >> joe m. los angeles, we are talking about adlai stevenson. >> i want to jump ahead to the 1960's. what you thought his relationship with the kennedys was. i know he was nominated in that convention and because of that, there were still feelings with jack kennedy. what would have happened if he had been made secretary of state? with this situation in vietnam have been different? >> let's start with richard norton smith. >> that is a very wide subjects.
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it is certainly true that it was not a warm relationship between the kennedys and governor stevenson. in 1956, he had done something no one else had done. he had thrown at the nomination for the vice presidency opened. he left the convention decide. jack kennedy came with then an eyebrow -- with an eyebrow of winning the nomination. in the end, -- it introduced into the country, paved the way for his campaign in 1960. it is also safe to say that the way in which gov. stevenson --
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one of the distinguished visitors that came to this house was jack kennedy. he very much wanted adlai stevenson's endorsements, who did not get it. if he was ever going to be secretary of state, i think that possibility went down the drain right then. >> we will talk a little bit later about the kennedy relationship and his years as u.n. ambassador. the results in 1956, adlai stevenson won 73 electoral votes. he got 26 million votes, about 1 million less than he got four years earlier. dwight eisenhower, 457 electoral votes. he won 41 states.
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it was the last election were there were only 48 states in the nation. dwight eisenhower won about 35 million votes. our next call, akron, ohio. >> thank you. this is a great honor to be watching this type of program. i have a comment and a question. richard norton smith stole my thunder about the 1956 convention and jack kennedy. one of my favorite comments was something that harry truman said about adlai stevenson, that is spent more time thinking about what he was going to do rather than doing it. he spent a lot more time talking to college presidents that he did to cabdrivers. anyway, 1956, richard norton smith made a comment to adlai
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stevenson doing something unprecedented in, opening the conviction -- the convention to picking a vice presidential nominee. very few people really know -- there were two other candidates in contention for that position. hubert humphrey and al gore sr. seeing as how jack kennedy was out of it, would that tickets have been a little bit better had it have been al gore sr. or hubert humphrey? also, i guess what i was going to say -- >> let's leave it there. that is a lot of questions.
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>> certainly, kefauver did not help. i think what richardson about kennedy was exactly correct. the opportunity to . . kennedy to the country. i remember a few years later, i saw him at a dinner and i said, jack, if you are so interested, you can get be nomination for vice president next time. he said, vice-president? i am going to run for president. he was only 39 years old. >> the caller raises a point that i am sure the governor stevenson kurds many times
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during his lifetime. the notion that talked over the heads of people. what was his reaction to that? >> i think he did not talk over the heads of the people. they used to call them an egghead. he is to make fun of that. egghead's of the world unite. you have nothing to lose but your yolks. i think he reached people. he had a great sense of humor. one time he gave a speech in san francisco. a woman came of to him after the speech and said governor, after that speech, every thinking american is going to vote for you. and he said, thank you, madame. unfortunately, i need a majority. he knew what the situation was. >> next call comes from tennessee.
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>> thank you. it is a great show. my father was an academic and i grew up in washington, d.c. and remember my father talking about how great adlai stevenson was. the reason i am calling this the i was struck by the 1952 electoral map. it seems like a sparkman strategy one. -- won. he did not get tennessee and he did not give his own state, illinois. >> i think it pained him that in i'd read those presidential elections, he won illinois. he had been elected governor of illinois by the largest margin in the history of the state.
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they elected this new deal liberal democrats and it was not surprising that he counted on winning it in 1952. >> if he had run for governor in 1952, even with president eisenhower's running on the republican -- he would have won the governorship again by a larger margin. >> newton minow, today, we talk about taxes, spending, social security. those are some of the issues we look at during the campaign. in 1952, in 1956, what were the main issues that were talked about? >> 1952, the big issue was korea and. we were bogged down in a war there.
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president eisenhower says, i they plan, i will go to korea. the country thought he would end the war in korea. the other big issues were the same issues we have today. we have the same issues that divided the country back in the 1950's. education, the economy was better than than it is now. there was less unemployment. this country is equally divided. if you look at the last 10 presidential elections, with the single exception of johnson and goldwater in 1964, they have all been decided by a few points. the country is equally divided. >> in 1956, here is a little bit
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of adlai stevenson talking about the democratic platform. >> to the threshold of a new america. in the america of the great ideals and noble vision. i knew america where poverty is abolished and our abundance is used to enrich the lives of every family. [applause] i mean a new america where freedom is made real for all, without regard to race or belief or economic conditions. [applause]
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i mean a new america with the ancient ideas -- these are the things i believe then. these are the things i will work for. >> we are live in libertyville at the adlai stevenson farm. boston, you are on the air. >> i was very young and during the era of president kennedy and adlai stevenson.
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in 1960, a couple of weeks before his assassination, adlai stevenson went to texas, where he was in convention mood because they threw oranges to him from the balcony. he called president kennedy and told him not to come to texas. at least a bulletproof car, which she did not do. on the other side of the a question, i believe president kennedy and his brother had a little bit too much ego. if adlai stevenson knew that comment he would have treated his demeanor -- there would have
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been more listening. >> we will get an answer from both our guests. >> i think it was a united nations event in dallas. after words, he was struck by some protesters. a classic rejoinder -- i do not want to prosecute them, i want to educate them. >> he was very aware of the dangers, but i would not go as far as the questioner dead. -- did. he made that commitment and wanted to keep it. talking about the relationship of adlai stevenson and president kennedy. during the 1960 campaign, norman vincent peale had organized a
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group of other clergymen and they said that jack kennedy was on qualified to be president because of his religion. adlai stevenson was asked about it. he compared it to st. paul. he said, i find st. paul appealing and norman vincent peale appalling. he could always worked a joke. politics today has no humor. i do not -- with the exception of bob dole, i do not see any politician today, either party, who has a great sense of humor. >> do you think it worked against stevenson? he always had these wonderful
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quips. >> abraham lincoln went around telling stories all the time. i do not think it hurt him. i think people like to have someone who has a sense of humor. >> next call, poughkeepsie, new york. >> hi. i would like to know when stevenson was a child, was there an incident where he accidentally shot his friends? how did that influence his presidential campaign? >> did he ever talk about that? >> there was a tragic accident in childhood when there was a loose gone in the family -- gun
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in the family and adlai stevenson accidentally shot and killed another child. i never heard him say anything about it. who knows? >> he was 12 years old at the time. one did get the sense that the family moved on. it was not something that they dwelled on. years later, i he expressed astonishment that his wife knew about the incident. it would suggest that he really kept it very close to his vest. >> who was his wife? >> his wife was a woman who came from a very fine upperclass family. she was not very interested in politics. she disliked politics. when adlai stevenson went into politics, i do not think she was very happy about it. they came to a parting of ways.
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>> that was in 1949. >> he had been elected before the divorce. >> did the divorce her temper and the 1952 and 1956 presidential campaigns -- did that -- did the divorce occurred to him during the 1952 and 1956 presidential campaign? >> president reagan was divorced. today, we have public officials living without -- nobody raises -- there has been a vast cultural change. >> one more instance of stevenson being ahead of his time. >> we are live from libertyville. theodore is on the line it. go ahead with your question or comment. >> i appreciate the program very
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much. i am a senior in a nearby senior retirement community. participating in a regular memoir group. we have been asked to write what good things from the 1950's should be carried into the 21st century. i happen to be present at the 1952 election were he voted in vernon township. it was next to a congregational church. my question is, what significance do you placed to that icon of the hole in his shoe? how would you summarize what could be carried into the 21st century? >> let's start with richard norton smith.
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>> stevenson was a man who flattered our intelligence. he spoke up to us. he did not speak down to us. he is arguably the last national politician. he believed that a presidential campaign was first and foremost an educational exercise. >> what do you mean by that? >> he was forever running at a time. they would cut him off in the middle of the speech. he could not believe that people would not take sufficient amount of time to educate themselves, to listen to a thoughtful, sober, substantive issue- oriented appeals from candidate on both sides. that is how he approached running for office. that is how the approach to governing illinois.
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i have heard him say more than once that a campaign was an educational exercise, not only for the public, but also for the candidate. an opportunity for the candidate to educate himself or herself about the country. i also heard them say -- heard him say, there are worse things that can happen to someone then losing an election. >> what is a stevensonian? >> new mexico head. -- an egghead. a wit, self deprecatory, someone who has been very little
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patience with the political claptrap that spin doctors have foisted upon us. i cannot imagine adlai stevenson being handled by any such individual. >> it would never happen. i was much a member of an american delegation to a conference in japan and our delegation was rumsfeld. we were having dinner and i said, why did you go into politics? he said, it was all because of a speech given to my graduating class at princeton. were you when the class of 1954? he looked at me and said, how did you know that? i said, i know the speech. it is the best speech adlai stevenson ever gave in his life. it was a speech about why
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everyone should devote some of their life to public service. he gave me a paragraphs verbatim of the speech. he pulled out a wallet and pulled out a torn copy of the speech. i said that is why you went into politics? he said, that is why i went into politics. if you read his new book, he starts off by quoting from that speech. his biggest contribution was making politics respectable and honorable. jack kennedy used to say politics is an honorable profession. i think he got back from adlai stevenson. >> adlai stevenson and ellen had three sons. adlai stevenson iii was a marine
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in 1952. >> he takes time out from this campaign to attend the graduation of his son from the marine officer candidate school in quantico, virginia. it is a proud father and an equally proud son on occasion important to both. >> wheat -- live on your screen is senator adlai stevenson iii, he is in his father's study on the family farm. senator stevenson, thank you for opening up this facility for us. what was your role in the 1952 and 1956 campaign? >> in the 1952 campaign, i was in the marine corps. i did not have a role in that campaign. they were involved in the 1956 campaign.
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>> what role did a real plague in your father's campaign -- did korea play in your father's campaign? >> korea became an issue though it was not an issue, but did adversely affected my father's campaign. he was advised to say if elected president, i will go to korea. that is exactly what general eisenhower said. my father refused to do that because he felt that if he made that commitment to go there and arrange a truce, -- the
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eisenhower administration was weakened by this commitment of eisenhower to end the war. i do not think it affected -- my involvement did not have any effect at all. his integrity had an adverse effect on his campaign. becau becau because of his. >> he vol e tearily stepped down in 1980, ran for governor twice for this state, senator stevenson, what made you enter the family business? >> well, i was just born with an incurable, hereditary case of politics, by business, in my career, we never really thought of it as a business. by the way, i'm paraphrasing my father, he was asked the same question. >> and of course, the first adlai stevenson served as vice
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president, second as vice president and adlai stevenson the governor. we're joined by senator stevenson who's adlai iii, he's in his father's study in the stevenson family home here in libertyville, we're over what used to be the barn. it's right next door. it's now set up with a exhibit. senator stevenson, what is going on here? >> you know, this home which really became our base over the years, as we served in washington, london, springfield, everywhere, it's now home of the adlai stevenson center on democracy. we try to bring people together from all points of the world to address systemic weaknesses in government and continue the stevenson legacy. this was the home, but it really
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became a base from which we, my father arranged the world not only to serve in springfield and so on as i mentioned but also study the world, the studies of the world from on the ground were incessant, never stopped learning about the world from within it. in the marketplaces and slums, in the monuments and ruins as well as the universities and n ministrie ministries, trying to see the world within it and the united states without it. and i think that lifetime of on the ground study of the world with a perspective from no ivory tower really helped to create the record and make him an elect try fieing figure not only at home but in the world.
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which led to president kennedy's appointment of him to the ambassador of the united nations. >> we got one hour left this evening in the contenders. this is the 9th 14th week. we're going to take this call from sally in chicago. hi, sally. >> caller: hi, let me correct something, i was born and raised in chicago but i live in california and i'm call iing because i -- adlai stevenson, 1952 election, was miss first
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presidential -- in other words i was eligible to vote, so i went door to door and did what whichever i could, i was crushed he didn't win. but in retrospective, i thought he would contribute so much more on the world stage as a statesman in the way he did. but i will never forget how disappointed we were. one other thing, being a chicagoan, i would at the tribune tower when the dewey/truman election, you never saw such panic in your life as was in the chicago tribune. i will let you go and get your response on air. thank you. >> i think we could talk to
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sally all night, but senators, senator stevenson, if we could start with you, you heard the emotion in her voice, could you talk about his campaign style a little bit? >> well, and i'd like to amplify i think they did a very p perceptive job, but getting back to '52, he was also reluctant to run for president because he had been elected governor of a state which we loved and were deeply indebted to and it succeeded a corrupt republican administration. he reached out and he recruited the best qualified professionals that he could find. it wasn't paid to play in those days. it was sacrifice to serve. they were reforming state government. and he wanted to finish the job. newt and richard are right.
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he was also reluctant because eisenhower, the returning war hero would be very hard to defeat and i think secretly, not so secretly at home, he wasn't convinced perhaps it was time for a change. now, remember, he started that '52 campaign, he was drafted, he started that campaign at the convention with absolutely no program, no money, no staff, and it went on to lelectrified the world. for him, i may be repeating -- for him, democracy was not a device, a system for acquiring power. a system for informing the people so they could make a sound judgment. he said trust the people with the truth, all the truth. what wins is more important than
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who wins. so, in response to another suggestion, the '56 campaign was really more substantive because he had more time than the '52 campaign but he used the campaigns and the interim as leader of the party an advisory councils to lay what arthur sles inninger called the great society, in fact i heard arthur, the late famous historian very close to newt and jack kennedy here in illinois once called, we also called jack jack. john f. kennedy the executor of the stevenson revolution. but those campaigns were aimed at not only at the american people and they were substantive, he used half-hour blocks of time for eloquent subsequent speeches, they were
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also aimed at the world and they listened. >> senator steveson, you talked about the '52 and '56 campaigns, your father lost about a million and so votes between those and a couple more states, what did he not do as well in '56, what did you think -- did he make mistakes? >> oh, i think -- first of all, eisenhower was enormous popular. remember, these were years of economic prosperity and growth. ike was popular. the war was getting -- i can't remember exactly -- but ended -- no, that would come later in korea. no, what happened -- one of the things that happened, i think eisenhower would have gotten re-elected anyway, the uprising in hungary and the invasion of suez by france, britain and
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israel, these international crises rallied the countries as they always do behind the president. you know from then on, there really just much doubt about the outcome. >> i want to go back to the '52 campaign and senator stevenson's point, which is accurate, which is he started out with nothing. there was a debate over where to have the political headquarters. it was in springfield. but the story is told and you can tell many it's true or not, the story is told he didn't expect it to be publicized. very shortly after the convention, he came back to springfield and conscious of these crushing responsibilities that had just been handed him, he left the executive mansion one night, by myself, without
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guard, entourage and walked to the lincoln home, knocked on the door, of course the custodian recognized him, let him in and he sat all by himself in the lincoln parlor for some period reflecting, meditating on a man who confronted even greater responsibilities a hundred years earlier. but the interesting thing about that story is not only it happened but that stevenson didn't publicized it. he didn't expect anyone to know about that story, is that accura accurate? >> it's true. none of us didn't know about it until years later, i said this, i asked, is this true? he said, yes, but he didn't talk about >> it the stories -- the family's involvement goes back five generations. i tried to record it.
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american politics and history as we knew it in the black book. it begins with lincoln patron, lincoln was a constant presence in this family. lincoln was an inspiration. woodrow wilson, former president of princeton, wilson was an influence, also, the enlightened internationalism of wilson heavily influenced my father. but lincoln whom might never have been president without the citizen who among other things proposed the lincoln/douglas debates, lincoln was an inspiration and forever a presence in this -- in this family. >> and our next call for our three guests talking about adlai
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stevenson comes from oak island, north carolina. jimmy, please go ahead >> caller: thanks for taking my call. i'm a world war ii veteran and of course it was part of the eisenhower army. but i didn't feel like at the time i'm from north carolina, which you see was one of the blue states that voted for adlai both times. we felt that adlai was a politician and more able to handle the political things and general eisenhower was more of a military person and he would know times were good, i was wondering, what do you all think -- how would the united states have changed in that eight years if adlai stevenson would have been president rather
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than dwight eisenhower? >> senator stevenson, let's start with you. >> you know, dwight d. eisenhower has been quoted and recently by a member of his family as saying that if he had known stevenson was to be the democratic candidate he would not have run for president. i think on the large international iinternags ntion al issues there was not a great deal of difference between them. one thing my father really felt strongly about, richard nixon was loathed by just about everyone in washington. his strength was at the grassroots. and, you know, after that incident and eisenhower retention of nixon on the ticket
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i think that caused some doubts in his mind about eisenhower but he respected eisenhower and my father was such a figure in the world that john foster perhaps reluctantly made him a roving official ambassador of the eisenhower administration, in his travels throughout the world he could officially represent the united states. if there had been a difference and the real difference is then, i think, were between democrats and the eisenhower wing of the republican party with the taft wing. eisenhower's problems were with taft. and the conservative wing of the republican party. if my father had been a president you would probably have the new frontier, federal aid to education and other such programs might have taken effect earlier.
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as it was, much of it didn't take effect until after the assassination of kennedy when johnson very shrewdly, i remember him consulting my father, what do i do now? you adlai should be in these shoes, so what is your advice? my father said, i guess you take some time now and put your program and administration together and he said, no, this is my moment. within a hundred days the program was all through congress. you know, he knew timing. he was a real politician. but that program had been developing over, you know, since the '52 campaign and might have been accelerated, you know, had my father won. >> newton. >> i think adlai got it exactly
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right. i would add one thing, because adlai was so committed to getting rid of nuclear war i think we might have had faster progress than actually occurred later in dealing with the russians and in dealing with nuclear disarmament, i think that was such a passionate belief that i think he would have given much more attention and persuasion to it than what occurred and i think, also, that the -- we would have had more friends throughout the world than we ended up with at that time. >> you know, it's interesting. it's hard to imagine -- of course, that's what we're doing is imagining. but it's hard to imagine president stevenson sending that plane in may of 1960 on the eve
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of a great summit. one quick thing, i do think they had real respect for each other, i think also had as most political adds ver sars learned to discover the weaknesses of each other. i think eisenhower over the time grew resentful that stevenson was the only eloquent speaker. if words all that mattered the american people could vote for earnest hemingway for penalty. our next call comes from portland, oregon, hi, joe >> caller: howdy, and thanks for taking my call. in '52, i was in a high school living in a republican household. in '56, i spent the summer as an intern, i remember well in '56,
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there was a disappointment at the convention because there wasn't really a contest in '52. can you elaborate on how the decision was made to throw it open to the convention -- to have a good time or at least in part to dodge the animosity all of the candidates who didn't get it? >> newton minnow if you can start. >> i think adlai felt that he had seen firsthand how the vice president was picked in '52. it was so casually done. he realized it needed much more attention. he also was under a lot of pressure, he was didn't like keith olber, he thought jack
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kennedy was very promising but was too young and too inexperienced and so, he decided -- also decided it would give a lot of excitement to the convention which had been pretty much prearranged as his own nomination. so, he decided to open it up and i think it turned out to be as he predicted. it turned out to be an exciting contest and it introduced jack kennedy to the country. so, there was a lot of good things with it. >> newt has it right. the outcome of the presidential balloting was a fore gone conclusion, to create some excitement and interest he decided to throw open the balloting for vice president and quietly, we were all rooting for john f. kennedy though we had a great deal -- my father adored hubert humphrey and senior
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senator al gore but i remember at the convention when the balloting was seesawing for vice president and kennedy was ahead, running downstairs to kennedy's suite where sergeant shriver's brother in law was guarding the door, running in jack kennedy was pulling up his trousers, shook his hand and congratulated him. by the time i got back up to my father's suite, i saw him lose. we all of us were rooting for jack kennedy. but newt is absolutely right, this brought kennedy to the nation's attention and also spared him involvement in a failed campaign for president and vice president. >> let's move four years ahead to the 1960 democratic convention in los angeles. senator stevenson, would you
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describe the relation between your father and jack kennedy in 1960. >> well, i think -- i think the relationship between my father and jack kennedy was close. i know my father respected kennedy and i believe it was mutual. but there was and newt was closer really a circle, a very protective circle around john f. kennedy which was also fearful and resentful and in this case concerned that stevenson was a threat. people were pouring in from across the country. literally hammering on the doors and in some cases knocking down the doors of that convention to demand another nomination for their candidate. eleanor roosevelt was there. and jim mccarthy gave a brilliant nominating address for stevenson and this caused a little anxiety in the kennedy
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camp and it probably caused a little interest or thought on my father's part, maybe if things were deadlocked he could still win the nomination. he had felt that if the leader of the party and out of royalty to eleanor roosevelt and other supporters that he should be neutral and he was neutral. if he had a chance neutrality was the best way to get there. one statesman told me, he was in father's suite on the eve of the balloting and my father said, when bobby kennedy calls tell him i have gone to bed and left introductions not to be woken. sure enough bobby kennedy called. he said, tell him this is his last chance and he better talk to me or he won't be secretary of state.
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and he responded, i'm sorry he's instructed me to tell me that he has gone to bed. so, that was the end of any chances for secretary of state. but it signifies something about the relationship not with jack kennedy but very, very protective circle around jack kennedy. the cuban missile crisis, my father was vilified. we'll play two pieces of video here, we'll start at the 1960 convention, adlai stevenson at the podium. here it is. >> i won't attempt to tell you how grateful i am. for this moving welcome. the 1960 democratic convention.
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i -- however, i have an observation, after getting in and out of the biltmore hotel and this hall i know who you will nominate, it will be the last survivor. >> details of my participation haven't been worked out, i would gladly campaign where he wanted me to in the north and west and the east able possibly in between. >> do you think you can persuade all the tooefenson followers to vote for kennedy? >> i hope so.
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>> how you will go about it? >> i hope they'll support it vigorously in the same manner that i do. >> i hope they'll follow vigorously as they did in los angeles, governor. >> i hope they'll follow you as vigorously as they followed me in los angeles. >> we saw a little bit from the convention and then at the press conference after kennedy got the nomination. >> i had the most extraordinary experience i had involving both adlai stevenson and jack kennedy was on may 29th, 1960, it was jack kennedy's birthday, it was the day after the last primary in oregon. and jack kennedy was flying from oregon to hyannis port for a family's birthday port and bill
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blair had suggested that he stop in chicago and that bill and i would pick him up and drive him here to the farm and he would have lunch with adlai and we were hoping, because bill and i had both concluded that it was impossible for adlai to be nominated again, we were hoping that they would come to some terms and adlai would support kennedy. we got in a car and drove out here and in the course of it, bill was driving, jack was in the front seat i was in the backseat, jack kennedy said, do you think i should talk to him about secretary of state? and bill was smarter than i am, he didn't say anything. there was silence. i didn't like silent. i said you probably shouldn't do that. and he said why. i said, adlai would be offended.
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came out here, adlai and nancy -- adlai iii and nancy were here, they managed to get the two of them alone into adlai's study and the minute they came out i had seen it hadn't gone well and we're getting back in the car to go back. and i was dying of curiousty, i said did you say something about secretary of state? he looked at me, and you satolde not to. he said, you did the right thing. i would have been very offended. beside he should decide who he wants. i called hyannis, jack hadn't
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arrived yet. i told bob exactly what i told adlai. >> can i ask you a question, we saw the clip from the '60 convention, that joke stevenson made from the podium in a moment of maximum spence, he wrote memorably describing that scene, it was stevenson's moment and he threw it away, that he was in a position with the right remarks to have taken that convention away, is that unrealistic? was that convention jack kennedy's no matter what happened? or can you see if -- can you see a scenario in which stevenson at the peak of his form might have had in fact said something? >> i think he knew at the time it wouldn't happen. he talked to richard j. daley,
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who said the illinois delegates were going to vote for kennedy. i think he knew at that point. one other thing, adlai, i have always thought that gene mccarthy's speech was insincere, i thought he was working for lyndon johnson, because he had never been that close to governor stevenson and i just finished reading jackie kennedy's tapes, she said that jack kennedy said the same thing. two people who thought that mccarthy was making -- >> let's let senator stevenson get in here >> i don't think i want to attribute that to mccarthy. i think that's unworthy of gene
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mccarthy. number one, newt minow's advice was absolutely right. my father would have resented it. i don't think there was a chance at that convention of his winning the nomination. he had encouraged everybody to go out and support the candidates of their choice including richard j. daley of illinois. the illinois delegation was pledged to john f. kennedy. you make a pledge you don't break it. the nomination was sewed up. yet there was a lot of tension and fear and a lot of dinism in the works. after the convention, my father campaigned strenuously all over the country for john f. kennedy and bobby kennedy's first stop on the campaign trail was right here. at the home where we had a great rally out on the lawn for bobby kennedy.
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>> now, newton minow referred to jackie kennedy's new book put out by caroline kennedy, there were some audiotapes attached to that, and she talked -- >> shortly after the assassination. >> correct, and they were just released. here's jackie kennedy talking about adlai stevenson and john f. kennedy. >> and the big thing with governor stevenson wanting to stay, telling him he would have to have the u.n., i remember that jack about that. >> how was that? >> you know, it was unpleasant. i mean, he didn't like it having to do it or anything but he wasn't going to give him the state department. i remember the earliest times we
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spoke of it, we knew that governor stevenson would get the u.n. i remember their conference on the doorstep was rather vague where stevenson said he didn't have anything to say. >> why did he suppose you think did stevenson decide against it. >> he thought that man had a real disease of unable to make up his mind and stevenson irritated him. it would have been an awfully difficult relationship. >> senator stevenson, could we get your reaction. >> well, unfortunately, i really couldn't hear it.
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i knew jackie kennedy and i can tell you that i don't think she was political at all. in fact, she was very art istic woman, intellectual, who used to leave washington on weekends, which were sometimes spent at bobby's home playing football, she wasn't athletic, she would go to new york to the theater with my father. from all i could see they had a very good relationship and he gave her, you know, kind of an escape from washington. i've heard about these -- i've heard these comments not just these all of her comments that they are critical of just about everybody, so, i don't know what kind of credibility to place on that. from what i could see, her relationship with my father was
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very good and in some ways closer to than some of the kennedys. >> newton minow, a short comment. could you hear the audio? >> yeah. i think -- i was with adlai and jackie not often but several times. i think they had a very, very good relationship. >> what about john f. kennedy and adlai stevenson. >> john f. kennedy and adlai had a very important experience. i had a very minor role in the cuban missile crisis buzz i was involved a little bit. and when it was over, there was an article in the saturday evening post, written by stewart olsen and charlie bartette and in it there were some critical comments not attributed to any
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single person what adlai had proposed which was actually what the united states did it was -- we closed our missile headquarters in turkey and greece in exchange for the bargain that was reached about cuba. but, it was critical and i knew that adlai was upset by it and early in the morning one day, president kennedy called me at home and he said, will you tell your leader -- he always would refer to when he talked to me about adlai, tell your leader that i did not leak that story. there's a rumor around that i'm the one who leaked it. i didn't leak it. i called the governor and i had his number and i got him on the phone in five seconds, he picked up the phone in the embassy in new york, and he said i can't talk to you now i'm on the way
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to the "today" show to be interviewed. i said give me one second, the president just called me and told me to tell you he did not leak that story to the saturday evening post. the governor didn't say anything. 15 minutes later i turned on the "today" show and he gave jfk holy hell about the episode. later on, jfk write him a letter apologizing making it clear what adlai had attributed to the cuban missile crisis was indispensable. >> our callers have been patient. bill, go a ahead with your question or comment about adlai stevenson. >> caller: can you elaborate on the influence of richard j. daley, of course, as you have referred to him as the mayor of
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chicago, the influence he had on stevenson's rise in illinois politics? >> senator stevenson, can we start with you, sir? >> it's the other way around. my father got richard j. daley started in politics. as i mentioned earlier, my father recruited these extraordinary professionals from and they came with, you know, without the endorsements of political leaders and campaign contributors. but there was one partial exception and that was richard j. daley who was state senator and maybe had the endorsement and he served with great distinguished in my father's cabinet as director of the department of revenue, he's really a first-rate cabinet officer and then later, my father supported richard j. daley when he contested for
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mayor of chicago against an incumbent mayor of that city, this is incredible the governor of the state siding with a challenger to the incumbent governor. so, my father was -- had a lot to do with the rise of richard j. daley, it wasn't the other way around at all. >> washington, d.c., go ahead, dave, we're talking about adlai stevenson. >> caller: hi, peter. i just want to tell a story -- >> hi, congressman. how are you? >> caller: good. i just want to tell a story about adlai stevenson in madison, wisconsin n the '60 campaign. i was a student at the university of wisconsin and adlai had come to madison to give a speech to the civil war roundtable. afterwards he was scheduled to appear with then-governor nelson
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at the old park hotel, and we had a large crowd of democrats gathered, they were over an hour late and the crowd was very restless. they ushered adlai up to the front of the room. they said folks, i'm sorry we're so late, lot of questions at the civil war roundtable, he said i got to get the governor over to the mansion and get him to bed he has a long day tomorrow. i'll give one of my typically short speeches and adlai butted in, i'll give one of my typically long speeches. the crowd erupted in laughter. that shows how quick adlai was on his feet and how clever he could be in making the audience feel good. he was my hero.
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>> congressman obi, a lot of talk this evening that adlai stevenson was the architect of the later great society, would you agree with that >> caller: i think he certainly defined in the '56 campaign what most of the issues became of the democratic party ran on and stood for for years. he really set the agenda for the coming decade in that campaign. >> that was congressman david obi, we didn't know he would call. thank you for calling in, sir, and watching. >> seattle, richard, hello. richard? from seattle. >> caller: i'm the author about eleanor roosevelt. i'd like to relay one of the anecdotes from the campaign
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trail that was a favorite of the campaign team. and then, give you a little comment from that. about the woman who came up to him after the speech and said, mr. stevenson, your speech was positively superfluous. to which he applied, i've been thinking about having it published posthumously. >> senator stevenson i know you're in your dad's office over there. there's a set of books of his speeches, they were best-sellers, correct. >> yes, incidentally my own book is here. i try to record american politics as we knew it over those five generations including the humor which enriched our
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politics and could be used to very, you know, really good effect, you could for example use it debten grate an opponent. the recordings, starting with lincoln and ending with china and enlose on the life cycle of nations and empires is aimed to recall what we're doing tonight the values that created this country and contrast those of which are undermining it today. >> i want to get your reaction to the cuban missile crisis, adlai stevenson was united states ambassador to the united nation and a year earlier, you talked about the strain relationship with the white house, the kennedied a min stras, in fact, put its ambassador in a humility
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position in the bay of pigs. and so a year later, in the fall of 1962, you have a situation in which we have evidence installing offensive nuclear missiles on castro's cuba. and what transpires, the great paradox i can't think of a less sound bite political figure than adlai steven yet he's immortalized one of the great sound bites of the 20th century on youtube >> let me ask you one simple question, do you ambassador soren deny that the ussr has placed and is placing intermediate range missiles and sights in cuba, yes or no?
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don't wait for the translation, yes or no? >> mr. stevenson, will you continue your statement? you'll receive your answer in due course, do not worry. >> i'm prepared to wait for my answer until hell freezes over if that's your decision. >> richard. >> until hell freezes over one of the greatest soundbites. maybe one of the presidents allegedly said i didn't know that adlai had it in him.
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that's true. >> you mentioned the bay of pigs earlier, he was fed a lot of misinformation which he relayed to the supreme court council and it came out of course that this information was false and he felt very embarrassed. but it was the kennedy administration that was embarrassed and newt alluded to the bay of pigs earlier, it was exactly what my father had propose, trading off obsolete bases in turkey for withdraw of missiles. but they insisted on keeping the deal secret. my father didn't want it to be secret because he didn't want to embarrass kirshov, that didn't happen, he was embarrassed. he fail, he was succeeded by a
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group from which emerged the hard-liners and the cold war escalated because the kennedy administration had to be tough instead of compromising and g e giving him an easy way out. >> one of the goals is figure out how the contenders changed american politics. after we take this call, we'll discuss that. >> caller: i was just curious as to whether or not you have heard an organization and adlai stevenson to attended the conference before. >> thank you for your call. go ahead, senator stevenson. >> i have been to one of the conferences. i don't know about my father.
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i don't know what the implications are, i guess, the conferences were occasional meetings of very senior figures from around the world. they got together to discuss the problems facing the world, absolutely nothing sinister about them. yes, this adlai stevenson has been to a couple. i don't know if my father ever was or if they even existed at that time. >> senator stevenson is in his father's study, in the stevenson's farm, a new exhibit about adlai stevenson and there's a photographer, we looked at this before we started, this is 1945, the u.n. formation, do you remember that photograph over there around the table, you were commenting on the different players in the photograph? >> yeah, i do. i don't have it in front of me. you got dulles, you have governor stevenson before the
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governor ship -- young rockefeller. the secretary of state at the ti time, who was about to be fired. >> what was adlai stevenson's role in the founding of the u.n.? >> do you want to talk that? >> i had to do with a proprietary conference -- >> he also was a delegate to the conference in san francisco and then he was, which, the united nations was adopted or approved. but by 1945, we were living in london where he was the u.s. delegate to the propair toir committee, which laid the foundation, putting the building
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blocks together including the location in new york, he represented the united states at that commission where great men from all over europe and canada, they used to assemble at our home at night because we had access to the economicommissarys in on the birth of the united nations. he died 20 years later a couple of blocks from our home in london. >> we want to talk about adlai stevenson and his effect on the democratic party. here he is in 1952 talking about the democratic party. >> i have been hearten by the conduct of this convention, you have argued and disagree because
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as democrats you care and you care deeply. but you have disagreed without calling each other liars and thieves. you have not spoiled our best traditions in any naked struggles for power. and you have written a platform that neither equivocates, contradicts nor evades. you have restated our party's record. its principles and its purposes in language that none can mistake. nor am i afraid that the democratic party is old and fat and indolent. after 150 years, it has been old for a long time. and it will never be indolent as long as it looks forward and not back. as long as it commands the allegiance of the young and the hopeful, who dream the dreams and see the visions of a better america and a better world.
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you will hear many sincere and thoughtful people express concern about the continuation of one party in power for 20 years. i don't belittle this attitude. but change for the sake of change has no absolute merit in itself. the people are wise, wiser than the republicans think. and the democratic party is the people's party, not the labor party, not the farmers party, not the employers party. it is the party of no one because it is the party of everyone. >> newton minow. >> i think adlai's contribution to the country was to edu -- he hoped campaigns would educate people, and he succeeded. he succeeded in teaching all of us that politics was something
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all of us should be involved in. i recently met the governor of indiana -- >> mitch daniels? >> -- mitch daniels. and i said, i'm sorry you're not running for presidency. and he said, why do you say that? i know you're a democrat. i said, i learned from my boss, adlai stevenson, that the best people in both parties should run, not the worst people. and i believe that. and i think adlai taught that to all of us. and i think that's a legacy to be extremely grateful for because his contribution is enduring today. >> yeah, i think historically, of course, he's a bridge between the new deal, really, and the new frontier. he holds aloft the banner of liberalism in the '50s, a difficult era. but it's an interesting kind of liberalism. adlai stevenson believed in american exceptionalism every
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bit as much as many on the right do today. but it was an exceptionalism that was about ideas and ideals. it was leading by example. it was not an exceptionalism enforced by military force. and of course the other thing is he brought a whole generation of young people who were inspired by his words, by his example, by his approach. his very unorthodox approach to politics. >> we only have a few minutes left. and carrie jo, moorehead, minnesota, we want to hear from you. please go ahead. >> caller: in 1952, when i was 13 years old, i was privileged to meet adlai stevenson. he came to the hotel warren where my mom and dad owned the hotel. and i was privileged to wait tables on him.
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we kids grew up in the hotel. and after meeting him, i admired him the rest of my life. i'm now 72 years old. and i am still just so admiring of this wonderful democratic person. and i'm just so thrilled that he was a man of morality, and he was a man that fought for the working people. we need more adlai stevensons in this world right now! and i'm just so happy that i met him. and the rest of my life -- >> all right, carrie jo, thank you for that call. let's let you talk to an adlai stevenson. senator? >> well, you know, the question we are left with is adlai stevenson possible today in this
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money-drenched, corrupt, dysfunctional politics? would he even compete? could he compete for president of the united states? going from stand to stand raising money from money to interest for jingles on television, the half-hour blocks of time would be impossible. i'm not sure that he would be possible today, let alone a franklin roosevelt. it wouldn't have been physically possible for him, which is why we've created the stevenson center to try to address the systemic weaknesses in democratic systems that might make an adlai stevenson possible. we try, as i do in my book, to recall these values, this history that created this country and contrast them with our politics today. can a politics as corrupted as ours be expected to purify, to
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reform itself? i think that's the issue we are left with. i don't worry about the american people. i have enormous faith in the american people. but they are left with a process that represents everybody else. >> senator stevenson, as adlai stevenson iii, if you have to go to a store or show your name somewhere, do people react? >> well, the old folks -- some of the old folks, i was in a store the other day, and i saw this young woman at the counter looking at my credit card. she was looking at my name. i said, is that name familiar to you? she said, no, but it's cool. i think we're forgotten. i think our politics, i'm afraid, is largely forgotten, too. this has been a wonderful program for the opportunity to recall other politics and another america. >> jim in east brunswick, new
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jersey, please go ahead with your question or comment. >> caller: yes, gentlemen. i'd like to ask the group to reflect on an event late in the governor's life. i've recently reviewed several hours of cbs news coverage of the events of november 22nd, '63. and throughout that afternoon, walter cronkite, henrik severite, harry reasoner, referred to governor stevenson visiting dallas a few weeks earlier and being accosted and warning the president not to go there. and i researched that. it seemed that an airport event, a woman hit to struck governor stevenson over the head with a placard. and it seemed little more than that. but i wonder if the panel could reflect on that, any regrets from the governor not stressing -- >> all right, jim, we got that call. and richard norton smith, you talked about this earlier, the situation. very quickly. >> well, yeah, very briefly.
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he had gone to dallas, i believe, for a united nations day event and had been confronted by this not an angry people, including the woman with the sign. and she did indeed, i think he was spat upon, and he was struck. he certainly left with a vivid sense of potential dangers that the president might encounter. >> and newton minow, do you know, did he call the president and warn him, or was that just a thought? >> i don't know the answer to that, i'm sorry. >> senator stevenson, do you know the answer to that question? >> no, my recollection is, first of all, somebody said after he had been -- he was asked if he wanted this woman who had hit him over the head with a placard prosecuted. he said no, i want her educated. my recollection is that he did not warn the white house and deeply, deeply, deeply regretted
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afterwards that he had not. you know, i'm sure had he called and described this experience, it would have had no effect, but he felt very guilty for not having done more or anything to try to prevent the president from going to dallas. >> now, we've got time for about one more call. richard, i just want you to think about, what have we not talked about tonight that we needed to bring out? so you think about that and we're going to take this call from phillip in fort worth, texas. hi, phillip. >> caller: good evening. "the contenders" is one of the great series that c-span has done. i really appreciate it. i grew up in the 1960 election, i was 12 years old. i was just becoming politically aware. so i grew up during the '50s. and while i'm a conservative and have always been so, and i doubt that mr. stevenson and i would have agreed on very much, i have been exposed to his speeches,
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his rhetoric, a lot of the things he said, and i'm of the opinion that he is one of the last really great political speechmakers in our age. and we were speaking a moment ago about jingles and things like that. i saw him making that speech, he was taking some of it from his notes pre-teleprompter days. it wasn't just coming off the paper. he knew what he was saying. it was coming from his heart. and i've always admired his speechmaking abilities. and i just don't see that in our political process today. he had something to say. he had took a little time to say it at times, but he was a man who knew what he wanted to say and said it well. >> newton minow. >> he took great effort in those speeches. he worked on those speeches himself hour after hour. he was criticized by the politicians for spending so much time on the speeches.
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but in some ways, that's his legacy. as we wind up the program, i have to say one of the biggest surprises in my life was when he died so suddenly. and adlai iii called me to tell me that he and i were co-executors of his will. i didn't know anything about that before he passed on. but that was, to me, a very touching thing of our relationship. but i think as we wind up the program, he was one of -- even though he didn't win, he won the hearts of millions and millions of americans. and he won a great place in history. >> he raised the standards. the one question i think i'd love to ask senator stevenson because at the end of his father's life, it has become almost a kind of folklore that
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ambassador stevenson was seriously contemplating resigning from the united nations, encouraged to do so by his liberal friends who were opposed to lbj's vietnam policies. and i'm wondering if he ever discussed that with his dad and what his sense is of his dad's intent. >> yes. first, you know, i think these labels, conservative and liberal, can be very misleading. arthur schlessinger used to call my father a conservative. but he had this integrity. he was a creature of reason. when i served in the senate, we weren't democrats, republicans. we weren't really right, left. we were for the country, products of the enlightenment, ideology didn't play much of a role.
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but to your point, he did not tell this to me, but i did hear from a very, very, very close friend that he was planning to resign from the united nations at the end of the year largely because he was very uncomfortable, abdicating policies that he didn't support. and by that i mean vietnam. and he, of course, died in june of '65, july of '65 before he could resign. i think he was planning to resign. quietly. no protest. that would not have been, you know, his way at all. but because he really couldn't continue to advocate policies that he didn't support. >> and that will have to be the last word. adlai stevenson ii is buried in
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bloomington, illinois. senator adlai stevenson iii, thank you for being with us this evening. newton minow, you as well, richard norton smith, this has been "the contenders," and we leave you with this week's "contenders" from the 1956 convention. >> i say trust the people. trust their good sense. their decency, their fortitude, their faith. trust them with the great decisions. i say it is time to take this government away from men who only know how to count and to turn it back to men and women who care. while congress is on break, we're showing you american history tv, normally see on weekends. coming up, adlai steve snson's acceptance speech. in about 20 minutes, a discussion on the impact of the
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1952 campaign between adlai stevenson and dwight eisenhower. tonight, american history tv in primetime focuses on the presidential campaign of adly stevenson. we begin with the contenders, our c-span series of candidates who didn't win. and that's followed by aded ad stevenson's acceptance speech and the discussion of election 1952. american history tv primetime starts at 8:00 eastern each night this week. the c-span radio app makes it easy to continue to follow the 2016 election wherever you are. it is free to download from the apple app store or google play. get audio coverage and up to the minute schedule information for c-span radio and c-span television, plus podcast times for our popular public affairs, book and history programs. stay up to date on all of the election coverage. c-span's radio app means you
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always have c-span on the go. governor adlai stevenson accepted his party's presidential nomination at the 1952 democratic national convention in his home state of illinois. he entered the convention insisting he was not a candidate for president, but allowed his name to be put forward and the delegates selected him as the nominee on the third ballot. governor stevenson lost the 1952 general election to general dwight eisenhower with 44% of the popular vote. to general eisenhower's 55%. the speech is just over 15 minutes and our coverage is courtesy of nbc news. >> quite a moment in the life of adlai stevenson and i judge that it is. getting a tremendous ovation after that handsome introduction by president truman.


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