tv George Wallace Campaign Film CSPAN August 13, 2016 12:17am-12:48am EDT
facing that states including immigration and the right to carry weapons. >> you go first. >> good evening, and welcome to "the contenders." we come to you live from the governor of the mansion in montgomery, alabama, wartime political candidate george wallace. elected governor of alabama and four times, george wallace lived here for 20% of his life. before we begin our conversation on george wallace and his
legacy and introduce you to our guest, here is a look at his political style. >> if you cannot decision at harvard between honesty and being over active, you should come down to alabama and we will show you some lot down there. both national parties in the last number of years have about down to every group of anarchists that have roamed the streets of san francisco and los angeles. [applause] now they have created themselves a monster and the chickens are coming home to roost all over this country. i love you, too. i sure do. i thought you were a she. you are a he. in california, a group of anarchists laid down in front of his automobile.
if you elect me president, if i come to arkansas it will be the last thing ever. >> we are joined here in the governor's mansion -- in front of the governor country mansion in montgomery, alabama -- two miles south of downtown buggery -- dan t. carter, the author of "george wallace -- the politics of rage." >> in the 20th century lost a conservative and i cannot think of anyone more than influential, not so much in creating ideas, but in showing there was a tremendous amount of support in the country for what was at that time the new conservatism that ultimately evolved.
>> what is the new conservatism? >> it meant more lost over the years, but in the early stages it was very closely went with the activism of the federal government and, particularly, the flashpoint of the civil rights movement. that is where george wallace got his start, but it was something that was far broader than simply what was happening in the south. >> george wallace was first elected governor of alabama in 1962. where did he come from? >> one of the most politically active counties and areas of alabama. there was not much to do except get involved in politics, so that is what george wallace did. he turned out to be very good at it. coming back after world war ii having served as an engineer, flying in the pacific, he ran for the state legislature,
easily won. he was an up-and-coming figure. he then was elected judge. he was so popular he decided to run for governor in 1958. the problem was he ran as a moderate. a moderate in alabama in 1958 was someone who emphasized law and order. certainly governor wallace was a segregationist just as much as his opponent, john paterson. there were nuances you had to listen for. when judge wallace, as he was then, emphasized that he was born to uphold the law and criticized his opponent for having the backing of the coup plots klan -- ku klux klan, that was a way of saying to voters i am a segregationist, but i am 8
reasonable segregationists. the loss in the primary. john paterson ran, as he himself said later on, as a stronger segregationist candid. that is why wallace lot. at that point, i. he faced a critical kind of crossroads in his career. there was no place for him to go except to tap into the rising tide of anti-government conservatism, which was at that time built around the civil rights movement. >> then he is elected easily in 1962. what did he change? >> he became a much stronger opponent of segregation and essentially -- later on we associate him with a standing in the schoolhouse door. "i will stand in the schoolhouse door to prevent segregation."
that is what he did, although he had to back out of the door pretty quickly. >> he ran for governor in -- but it in 1964. lyndon johnson had become president after the assassination of john kennedy. johnson insisted he was too busy, so he did not actually run as a candidate. >> when wallison announced he was. to run for the democratic primary, nobody paid any attention to him. he got about two paragraphs in the "new york times." when he went to the northern states in 1964, the governor predicted he would not get 1% of the vote. he got 33% of the vote. it stunned everyone i think it was at that moment that pundits,
political observers realised that the separation in the south, was going on in the south was not just southern. clearly there was a constituency for someone like wallace. >> george wallace ran for president in 1964, 1968, 1972, and 1976. in 1968 he won five states and 46 the electoral votes. that is the last time an independent candidate has won any electoral votes. here is george wallace announcing in 1968. >> over the years i have repeatedly stated that one of the existing political parties must offer the people of this country a real choice in 1968, that i would lead a political effort that would offer this choice. i have travelled throughout our country in the past year, literally from concord, new hampshire to los angeles,
california, to miami, florida. the american people are hungry for a change in the direction of our national government. they are disturbed and concerned about the trends being followed by our national leadership. there has been no response by any of the parties the which showed the american people that they are -- they are heeding the growing the solution that amounts to a one-party system in the united states. no prospective candidate of the two existing parties or anyone in leadership positions have come forward with any indication that there will be any difference in their platforms. no one has suggested that the wishes of the american people will be heard. so, today i state to you that i am a candidate for president of the united states. my wife, the governor of alabama, joins me in this decision. my wife and i, together, in making this announcement are carrying out our commitment the people of alabama made during
her campaign in the year 1966. i will run to win. we will, of course, discussed in depth as time goes on the issues and our solutions to problems that face the american people. >> dan carter, what was george wallace so successful in 1968? >> his campaign was successful for the reasons he was usually successful. he had an almost a natural ability to size up both the audience as he spoke to and public opinion. a couple of pollsters used to say -- i always listen to what governor wallace is going to say because i knew the next time i would call that is the way it was quintuple. that may be an exaggeration, but he was certainly aware that in 1964 he may have seemed like a flash in the pan, revolving
around the civil rights act of 1964. by 1968 you have riots in the cities. you have the anti-war movement. you had a general reaction throughout the country as americans realized the civil rights movement was not only having an impact in the south, but the passage of the civil rights act in 1965 was. to effect the rest of -- affect the rest of the country as well. everything from housing to jobs. he knew it was out -- there is a constituency -- he knew it was out there -- opposed to the activities of the federal government. the role of the courts, the role of the presidency and johnson. he knew that as an independent candidate he also had the possibility -- and it was a long shot. he did not think he was going to win, secretly. but he knew there was a possibility they could get enough votes as a third-party
candidate to throw the election into the house of representatives, something that had not been done over 100 years. he always thought he was going to be elected. but he was pretty realistic and realizable was a long shot. he was also thinking about 1972. even if they did not win in 1968, he saw himself as stronger by 1972. he was not governor at the time in 1968 when he was running. >> his wife, lurleen wallace, had been elected in his place in 1966. she practically died in office. albert brewer succeeded her and supported him in that campaign. he was not governor, but he did have the support of the state of alabama pretty successfully. >> what was happening in april,
1968 when martin luther king was assassinated? what was george wallace's reaction? what did he do? blacks he made perfunctory -- >> the may perfunctory remarks about how tragic it was and talk about it a couple of times. he really did not respond publicly very much. he responded earlier much more to the assassination of john kennedy, despite the fact that he always saw kennedy his foil for standing in the schoolhouse door, trying to keep out black students in 1963. he really respected him. when kennedy was assassinated, it disturbed him deeply, i think, in part because he realizes that the assassination
of a public figure like kennedy could happen to him as well >> you have a picture in your book of president kennedy touring alabama in 1963. not a picture that jfk wanted to have published. >> he made every effort to make sure he was not photographed side-by-side with george wallace. he may have not liked wallace. in some ways, he admired his political skills. he did not like him, but he realized that politically this was not going to do him any good to have this picture next to governor wallace. >> there is the picture. you could see it was sticking by a long lens. jfk getting off the helicopter and greeting governor wallace. what was his reaction in june 1968 when rfk was shot? >> he really did not like robert kennedy. they had had a number of
disagreements. they had met at some great length in the month preceding the standing in the schoolhouse door. once again, he used it to talk about the rise of lawlessness in america, but i do not think he was deeply touched by it at all. >> dan carter, in 1968, how serious did hubert humphrey take george wallace? >> humphrey worried about him because he saw him as potentially pulling votes. as time went on i think humphrey came to realize that wallace was going to be pulling boats from nixon. he did not worry about him as much. nixon is the one who came to be deeply concerned about him. as the campaign opened, nixon was so far ahead in the polls that it was only by the time you
got to late september that he began to realize that humphrey was moving back a little bit, coming up in the polls, and what -- and wallace was pulling 20% of the votes. these were his voters, his political advisers felt. he had to figure out a way to get the support of wallace voters without directly attacking him. >> president nixon won in 1968. 31.7 million votes. 301 electoral votes. hubert humphrey, 31.3 million votes and 91 electoral votes. george wallace received nearly 10 million votes and 46 electoral votes. here is george wallace discussing the 1968 campaign. >> the support we have in at this region of the