Skip to main content

tv   1968 - America in Turmoil Liberal Politics  CSPAN  May 2, 2018 10:25pm-11:58pm EDT

10:25 pm
even on cspan. we continue our series, 1968, america in ter moil with a look back at liberal politics 50 years ago, lbj's great society redefined the role of the government and challenged traditional values but the deaths of robert kennedy and martin luther king challenged the times. first we hear from senator robert kennedy, during his march 16th 1968 presidential campaign announcement. i have traveled and i have listened to the young people of our nation and felt their anger about the war that they are sent to fight and about the wormed that they are -- world
10:26 pm
that they are about to inherit. in private talks and in public, i have tried in vein to alter our course in vietnam before it further saps our spirit and our manpower and raises the risks of wider war and further destroys the country and the people it was meant to save. i cannot stand aside from the contest that will decide our nation's future and our children's future. the remarkable new hampshire campaign of senator mccarthy has proven how deep are our divisions within our party and within our country, until that was clear, my presence in the race would have been seen as a clash of personalities rather than issues but now that that fight is won and over policies
10:27 pm
which i have long been challenging, i must enter that race, the fight is just beginning and i believe i can win, i have previously communicated this decisions to president johnson and lawsuit last night, my brother senator edward kennedy gave my decision to senator mccarthy, i made clear my candidacy would not be in opposition to his but in harmony. i aim to support and expand his valiant campaign in the spirit of his november 30th statement. taking one month at a time, it's important that he achieve the largest possible majority next month in wisconsin, pennsylvania and the massachusetts primary, i strongly support his efforts in those stays and i urge my
10:28 pm
friends to give him their help and their votes. both of us will be encouraging delegates to the national convention, both of us want above all else an open democratic convention in chicago, free to choose a new course for our party and for our country, my decision reflect no personal animosity or disrespect towards president johnson. he served president president kennedy with the utmost loyalty and was extreme lu kind to me and members of my family in the difficult months which followed the events of november of 1963. i have also commended his efforts in health and education and i have the deepest city for the burden that i carries today but the issue is not personal.
10:29 pm
it is our profound differences over where we are heading and what we want to accomplish, i do not lightly dismiss the deign dangers and the difficulty of challenging an incumbent president but these are not ordinary times and this is not an ordinary election, at stake is not just the lowp of our party and even our futures, -- leadership of our party and our futures, it's our right fo the moral leadership of this planet. i thank you. >> from march of 1968, a tumultuous year, the announcement that robert kennedy would seek the nomination, joining us is the
10:30 pm
oldest daughter of senator kennedy, kathleen kennedy townsend, thank you for being with us. >> is good to be with you. >> also join us is michael cohen, the author of american malestrom, coming out in paper back later this year, president johnson, a key political figure in what we are talking about, what was his standing as the year began. >> he was in a tough political position, the war in vietnam had become a stalemate and there was a growing opposition to the war in washington, dc and in party. he was facing a primary challenge within his party from senator mccarthy then the tete offensive occurred, it showed that the administration was leug about the war, there was
10:31 pm
no light at the end of the tubl. things had fallen apart in veto number. it became clear that johnson was not likely to survive. >> what was the tete offensive. >> you had viet cong gorillas taking over the embassy, you had massive casualties. mostly by the north vietnam people. it was a failed military offense but it had a huge effect at home. we felt that the war was lost. >> where did this put the vice president at the time, humphrey. >> he was a classic liberal.
10:32 pm
he supported civil rights legislation and had support among liberal groups, when he became vice president, he became a loyal supporter of johnson. he was a bigger supporter of the war than johnson in some respect. this created a lot of problems with his party. liberals thought he turned his back on the party and among some, they believed that he lost his beliefs. >> kathleen kennedy townsend, we want to talk about your father but first i wanted to ask you about senator mccarthy, he announced to challenge the sitting president, president johnson, what was your father thinking about as he was ramping up his campaign.
10:33 pm
>> as you know, a number of people were asking my father to run for president and my father was ambivalent about it because he thought it would be seen only as a fight against president johnson, personality versus personality, when he spoke out against the war, very few people listened to what he said. what they publicized wat the personal animosity, senator mccarthy did not have that personal animus and that personal history. >> when did your dag decide to
10:34 pm
seek the nomination, what was the tipping point. >> i think that the tete offensive was the tipping point. he had said early in january that he would not run and after the tete offensive, i think he changed his meupped because he saw that there was no way that this war was going to be won the way it was and that president johnson could not acknowledge what was going on and president johnson understood that it could not be won and lives were being lost in a fruitless horrible effort so he decided that he wanted to run, he made that decision before the new hampshire primary. he had made that decision before that time. >> a popular magazine in the
10:35 pm
1760s and 70s and you and your father are on the cover, the next president's daughter, you were 16 years old at the time. what was going on. >> i remember that, it was funny to be on that. i have not seen that picture fo r a long dr for a long -- for a long time, thank you for putting it up. >> what was going on in your family, were you questioning whether or not he should seek the nomination. >> we thought our father was terrific and my mother was a big supporter of him running because she knew that in his gut, he wanted to run for president, she knew he saw what was going on in the country,
10:36 pm
not just in vietnam. she thought that was his destiny in a sense and was saying he should run, my father, understanding politics, was worried about the issue with president johnson and the second issue was he ran his brother's campaign and he understood when you want to run for president, you want to make sure that you can win and you have lined it up and you have a campaign in place, he established that for his brother but he had not done that for himself in 1968. it was more of a passionate crusading campaign which, part of him liked that but part of him still held that oal political knowledge about how
10:37 pm
to put together a campaign. it's an interesting balance. >> beyond the leaders of the democratic party in 1968, what was going on within the party among the rank and file. >> one of the most interesting figures is al lowenstein, he decided that johnson should not be the nominee and he needed to be defeated. it was based on his opposition to the war in vietnam. he went around to look for someone to challenge johnson for the nomination, at first kennedy said no, mccarthy was interested. he was going around the country making his option to the war known but he was not a well- known figure, he was aloof.
10:38 pm
not popular on capitol hill. he had been the number two choice for the vice president nominee but he lost that to humphrey, when mccarthy challenges johnson, it was in part because of the activism. when mccarthy got involved, a group of appellate war activists got behind the campaign, it's one of the reasons that he did so well in the primaries in wisconsin and oregon. one of the reasons he wanted to run was to create an outlet for appellate war activists to be heard. in some ways, it was the most successful thing he did, he gave the antiwar active i was a voice, in the end, the active i
10:39 pm
was were the ones that toppled johnson. without mccarthy, i do not think that ken did you guess into the race and without the two of them in the race, i do not think that johnson drops out. >> we are looking at a year in crisis, a lot happening in that year, joining us from west palm beach florida is kathleen kennedy townsend and my -- michael cohen, give us a sense of mccarthy and why he entered the race. >> he is an interesting figure, like i said, he was an aloof guy, an intellectual, you saw his liberal poles but he had a conservative demeanor. he believed in the april
10:40 pm
process, the reason that he ran was because he was fearful that the democrats opposed to the wear were going to create a third or fourth party. he wanted to give them an outlet within the party and within the political process to make their voices known, he had a traditional view of politics, even though was also someone who was lawzy, i was -- lazy, he did not like campaigning. he always said, i am not a morning person, he had a hard time talking to people sometimes, he could be a very effective politician but did not like the details of campaigning, if he had his drothers, he would have given
10:41 pm
speeches the whole time. here's my position and here's my opponents position, you decide. but that strategy did not work so well politically, it became more difficult to be effective. >> kathleen kennedy townsend, what was the relationship like between your father and senator mccarthy. >> they were both catholics but i think that they were different kinds of catholics, mccarthy was more intellectual and reserved. my father was shy but he liked people, he was empathetic, he had the issue of vietnam but he also spoke very much to working
10:42 pm
people, to the poor, to the disenfranchised. so he had a much, i would say, larger heart that embraced lots of people and touched them and was touched by them. they had very different personalities and passions. >> march 1968. your father formal yu announces his candidacy in the same location where john kennedy announced. >> what do you remember about that owe caution. >> it was very exciting to have my father announce his presidency, we were thrilled that he was going to run, a number of people asked, weren't you afraid. one of the things we have learned is not to be afraid. so we were very happy about the fact that he was going to run,
10:43 pm
that he was going to do what was in his heart and that he had something to offer the country, so there was a lot of chaos but we were accustomed to growing up in chaos, there were 10 kids and my mother was pregnant with one more. we went to the saint pass ricks parade. there was an irish sense of, lets get out there and fight and make our views known. >> this is senator mccarthy. >> what is your reaction as a politician and can you take him. >> i have not been moved to withdraw at this point. i thinkthat i can win in wince kons and i do not see a reason that i could not win the other
10:44 pm
primaries. >> has this caused you to reassess your positions. >> i do not think that reassessment is necessary, i have announced to run in the primaries and i have made no change in my plans because of new hampshire or in consequence of the announcement of senator kennedy. >> i hear a rumbling and indications of a deal in the future, you are proposed to deal with bobby kennedy. >> i am not prepared to deal with anybody as far as my candidacy is concerned. i committed mice to a -- myself to a group of people, you said i would be the candidate and i intend to run, i committed myself to run.
10:45 pm
i will stand firm, if i find i cannot win, i will say, you are free people and you can make the best judgment you can make. >> that interview was conducted after the announcement of senator robert kennedy, what is your reaction. >> i think that the senator had a tough issue with the kennedys. i think that he thought he should be the first catholic president not john kennedy. he never got over the way that
10:46 pm
bobby kennedy got into the race . i think what is interesting, mccarthy did not like at that kennedy was emotional. he used to say that kennedy held these outreach groups to african americans and hispanics, i thought that was not the ways that politician should work, he did not think it was appropriate. he would not have been successful in today's politics, it created a lot of animosity and a sense that as time went
10:47 pm
on, he came to dislike kennedy and that defined a lot of his campaign, he became more critical of kennedy. >> less get a response and then we will get to your phone calls that's politics, i think that mccarthy, as you can see, he did not win the nomination, it was not as though he wept
10:48 pm
back and said, what can i do to help more americans participate. more african americans and indians and others, that was not his way of asking and that's not where his heart went. >> kathleen kennedy townsend, the former loo lieutenant governor of mr land. -- maryland. >> we are here this weekend because its my mother, ethel kennedy's 90th birthday, we had a great celebration last night. lots of brothers and sisters and cousins and grandchildren and great grandchildren were a fabulous evening to celebrate my mother's extraordinary life and her life in my father and
10:49 pm
her ability to say, can you achieve things. my mother believed in my father which was a very important part of his success. we are going to albert in chicago. democratic line. >> good morning cspan-3. i was just wondering. >> how are you? >> dpood. i was just wondering if your father had in mind who he wanted to be his running mate in that campaign? >> i do not think at that point
10:50 pm
my father had a tough fight. he was really focused on winning winning the primaries, then he had a couple of months to figure out who would be his running mate. >> frank, good morning. >> good morning, in 1968, i formed with others, in corning new york, a dissident democratic group that supported mccarthy, it was a shoe string operation but it was exciting because we managed to 12 of the went to chicago, i also met al lowenstein, you know about his
10:51 pm
tragic end
10:52 pm
. >> and i had been in town only three years. i came here in '65, so i can understand his comment. >> thank you for the call. that's a great story, it reminds me of something interesting, when i was researching my book i went through the papers and found all these oral histories of people that worked on the campaign, and people would say people that are involved in the campaign that they didn't really like ma -- they didn't like mccarthy, but because he was this very difficult person he was very can you remember
10:53 pm
rage, he took on johnson. you wouldn't have seen the anti war wing of the party and debate about the war in vietnam so mccarthy inspired a great deal of loyalty and among the supporters, he had a great deal of animosity toward kennedy in part because they felt like he had stolen mccarthy's thunder. he had challenged johnson, but at the same time he did it when no one else would and i think it created a lot of loyalty but also people who remained involved in the political process after the '68 campaign. people who worked on both campaigns i think more often than not, people who worked with mccarthy stuck around to work
10:54 pm
for ma -- to work for mcgovern. >> it was clearly a very tough relationship, as you know my father objected to his brother's choice of johnson for vice-president. they didn't really mesh personality-wise at all and they really didn't get along very well, so that was just clear. they just came from different parts of the world and different backgrounds and they didn't get along. but i said in, you know, looking back 50 years, what they did share was a commitment to
10:55 pm
dealing with the issues of poverty in this country and i give -- and johnson also signed the '65 civil rights act and he signed the immigration act which my father very much agrees with so on some issues they really did agree even though they didn't always get along but the real break came over the war. >> as we set the stage on some of the key players in 1968 we want to move on and talk about the primary campaign that began in new hampshire, ended in california, with a victory, 46% for senator robert f. kennedy, and this ad from the primary campaign. >> robert kennedy and some people who aren't registered this year, in ten years these americans will inherit the problems we don't solve today. >> it is suggested in the next
10:56 pm
several decades the people will start to have to wear gas masks in new york city it is becoming so pow poluted. there are laws we can pass about dumping and throwing refuge in lakes and streams and into the air. we'll all have to live underground and industry has to do something and the interest you might take it in, i think that's what's going to make the difference in this country. >> nebraska can make the difference. >> the 1968 campaign by robert f. kennedy, we're looking back 50 years later, america in turmoil. joining us from west palm beach florida and greg is our next
10:57 pm
caller from new castle pennsylvania, please. go ahead. >> i'm one of the guys that ended up spending years in the jungle in vietnam, and a lot of the mesh that was going on involved because of drugs in china. but i'm firmly against the democrats because of the vietnam war and the mess it turned out to be, you know, and the draftees and the rich people could also avoid the draft, and i'm just making my comment. >> thank you. kathleen kennedy thompson how would you address that
10:58 pm
sentiment. >> i think it's an excellent sentiment. when my father was running for president he said the same thing, how unfair it was that people who could go to college got out of the draft, and that the people who couldn't afford college or didn't get out of the draft and he said that was unfair and he said that to college students, so he was willing to go right into people who were benefiting from the unfair system and say this is unfair, this is unjust, this is not the way this country should act. so i think my father was very clear that he didn't like the fact that so many people who couldn't afford college went to vietnam and those who were well off were able to get out of it. >> from northeastern washington -- >> what's unusual, i just want to underscore because often times politicians tell people what they want to hear and one
10:59 pm
of the things unique about my father is telling them what they didn't want to hear telling them about their responsibility and how difficult it was and he was willing to do that. >> we'll go to washington state, bryan is next. good morning. >> good morning, c span. great show. a question for each of your guests. first question is do you think that the liberals in politics will be able to make things -- daylight very clear how things look when each party is in charge of our country and then who comes along and has to fix things? >> thank you, bryan. that's more of a contemporary question, i suppose. i guess the thing i would say is this goes back to the first question from greg and i just want to thank him for his
11:00 pm
service. one of the ironies about vietnam it was the democrats who propagated the war and lyndon johnson, one of the most liberal presidents we ever had ended the war. it was not just within the parties but i think in general about their ability to handle foreign policy and military affairs. the irony of vietnam is johnson in part wanted to minimize the political fall out from letting vietnam fall to the communist, and i think this is something that came back in the debate in the 1950s, and for the way for democrats to avoid that label was to fight in vietnam, of course the result was it basically showed a lot of people that democrats couldn't effectively handle foreign policy or manage the war effort in vietnam so in a lot of ways
11:01 pm
it created assigns i think the democrats were leaking national security, and that image i think has been propagated for 50 some years since then and i'm not going to say that richard nixon fixed the war, the problem johnson created because he was out of vietnam, but there is a sense there that i think democrats created this problem and it under mind them politely for a long time to come. >> kathleen kennedy thompson i want to share with you a column to look at 1968, it's available online, he says the year america came apart. among the things he talks about the the race riots following the assassination of dr. martin luther king, johnson was seen as
11:02 pm
a lackey. your thoughts on that? >> well, i think that vietnam did destroy a lot of the establishment because they knew that they weren't winning it and they were still sending people over to vietnam to die in a war that they knew was not going well, and they were dishonest with the american people, and it was a disaster and as i would say and i think people historically could say you weren't going to win that war. if you don't have the people in south vietnam, the government itself didn't want to fight, you can't prop it up from outside and it's so ironic and so sad when you think of how many people died both vietnamese and americans and now we can have
11:03 pm
good relationships with vietnam and was really, you know, a tragedy. i think michael pointed out lyndon johnson was afraid democrats would be criticized for losing, and yet they're criticized any way, so at least we could have been criticized and not had so many people die and had a quicker reconstruction of vietnam. >> will is joining us from wisconsin. please go ahead, sir. >> how you doing. i just want to point out something that's missing from sort of the national conversation. we have a personality who happens to be running for governor of one of the states that has to win, illinois, and he happens to be your brother. i just wanted to kind of pick your brain and see what are your sentiments toward of lack of identity for the democratic
11:04 pm
party and lack of engagement for support? >> well, i think, well first of all, my brother did run for governor of illinois and i think he would have been a terrific governor. as you know his opponent spent $60 million against him so it's very tough when you're running against $60 million, but across the country i have to say i think the democrats have been revised and reenergized because of what's going on in washington. we're winning elections we haven't one in decades and i think there's this new energy and new sense that we have to get involved, we have to get engaged. i'll give you a statistic on women, this year 34,000 women are running for office. this is our country and we're going to get engaged and get involved of the the other thing
11:05 pm
that's interesting about who's running is how many people have served in iraq, in afghanistan, and they're running as democrats, so i hope this will be sort of the end of vietnam, you know, era that the military can't be democratic because so many democrats are running who have been in the military. >> michael, i was going to say i tend to agree with what the captain says, the division of the military party were extraordinary, not just over the war in vietnam, there was a whole bunch of things that really divided the party. you had a wing of the party, more conservative democrats, somebody like bobby kennedy, he had a lot of opposition within the party. labor didn't like him, southern democrats couldn't stand him.
11:06 pm
there was some serious, serious fault lines in the party, nothing like that today. you do see this debate obviously between the bernie sanders wing of the party and they're not, i don't want to -- there is differences but nothing on the scale of what we saw in '68. the differences were fundamental and i think there was a big wing of the party. i think mccarthy supported anti war activists who viewed the party and johnson in general and you have activists who regularly picketed, it's knowing like '68. as the politics have become in our country, the animosity, not just between the two parties but
11:07 pm
inside the two parties -- >> the box is called the politics of the division with michael cullen in fairfax, virginia. susan could ahead, please. >> i'm calling with a comment, i want to say hi to kathleen, i'm richard mackey's niece. so good to see you, kathleen, you and your family have been very much on my heart. my husband was a high school senior in maryland in 1968, and last night he was showing the picture, the so long bobby picture on the arts and style on the washington post picture to my daughter elizabeth last night, and telling her a little bit of the history of that time
11:08 pm
and i just wanted to say hello and glad to hear you celebrated your mother's 90th birthday and hope to see you back in this area sometime soon and my brother andy strayhorn sends his love as well. >> very nice, susan. >> we're looking at 1968 and the democratic primary. here's an excerpt. >> robert kennedy had decided to run. >> with the decisions made by this convention today, with our hopes and the world's hopes for peace and balance every day -- >> he did not realize that they listened to the program he was about to tell a nation he would
11:09 pm
not run for the presidency again. >> accordingly, i shall not seek and i will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your president. . (music)). >> the vice-president of the united states. >> vice-president humphrey became the last major democratic candidate to end the race. humphrey acquired a potential number of votes before the national convention. . >> michael, let's talk about the democratic party, what the
11:10 pm
structure was in 1968 and what changed. >> so we just saw that video and there are pictures of humphrey, he never ran a single primary in '68, they were controlled by powerful democrat, big city, big democratic party, power brokers, so even though kennedy/mccarthy faced off in these primaries, once humphrey entered the race in '68, it was predetermined he would be the nominee of the party unless mccarthy or kennedy could convince enough delegates to change their allegiance. these two, this decision of the convention in '68, one of the things of the convention in '68
11:11 pm
was creating an informed commission to create a way democrats chose their nominee and that has completely rechanged our politics, because the whole spending years in iowa, new hampshire trying to win over support, that all happened because of this reformed commission which said the nominees should be chosen at the state convention and that has created a modern primary system we have and again it was something that was not really talked about much in '68. it was something they were pushing but because of the way mccarthy's campaign, one of the things he said you need to have an out let to make their voices
11:12 pm
heard and most of the delegates are chosen at state conventions, so one of the important elements of mccarthy's campaign, we were living in a very difficult world because of that. >> kathleen kennedy thompson, james jones who served as the de facto white house chief of staff to president johnson said on the afternoon of march 31, 1968, when lyndon johnson met with his vice-president announcing he was not going to seek renomination, humphrey reportedly said i have lost to one kennedy and i will lose to another. have you heard that story. >> no, i have not but thank you for sharing. >> what about humphrey though and his standing in the democratic party and how your father would have campaigned against him. >> well, the
11:13 pm
campaign against hubert humphrey would have had to have been with the democratic insiders and you would have to go to them and say hubert humphrey is tainted by his association with lyndon johnson and it's only me who has won the primaries, otherwise hubert humphrey would have looked illegitimate to the voters, and obviously my father knew many of the democratic insiders because he had met and worked with them in the 1960 campaign, and as the attorney general and as a senator he knew what they were so he had a relationship with them and i think he could have made a pretty strong argument about what needed to be done. i think that it would have been
11:14 pm
very hard having won as many primaries as he did, he did beat them in the biggest california primary, i think he would have had a very good argument it would have looked bad for the democratic party to nominate hubert humphrey and i think it would have been a compelling chase. >> we're going to come back to the california primary shortly but let's go to glen joining us from pennsylvania. you're on the air. >> yes, good morning. my question is ms. kennedy, would you agree that every time the republican get in the white house we have chaos, mahem, and i appreciate your dad and bobby for their good intention and
11:15 pm
good human being, okay? >> thank you, glenn. . >> i'm a democrat so i believe the government has a role and makes government work effectively and i think that's a different attitude than some of the republicans have. i think we all agree we're not talking about present day politics. >> i mean i would just say to that as far as every politics whoever comes after president trump will have to find a way to fix washington. >> next week we'll turn our
11:16 pm
attention to conservative politics and the republican party and the nomination of richard nixon after his defeat to john kennedy. craig in tulsa, oklahoma, you're next. >> yes, it's an honor to speak to a kennedy, and i've always respected john f., he was almost a conservative in many ways. i just want to point out liberal politics in '68 was a change in how we face war. it was the liberals that brought on the idea that it's like the florida the war, it was in '68 in the liberal politics, and there's nothing wrong with it, but you can't bring in the idea because of liberal politics when you have an action we have to take, the first question is when are
11:17 pm
we going to bring our boys home, there's nothing wrong with that but we need to win and one thing about conservative politics they say we have to win and there may be sacrifice and that's realistic in the ugly thing of war, it's necessary sometimes and i think a bad thing with liberal politics, i think the liberals need to reconsider and yes we want our voice to come home but it shouldn't be time lined and bring our boys home now and before we start. >> craig, thank you. michael? >> i would say a lot of men felt the war in vietnam was a mistake and the boys should come home. one of the reasons why vietnam was the success it was was there was no real strategy behind the war effort. there was no political strategy and in a sense one of the
11:18 pm
reasons why vietnam was the disaster it was was because lyndon johnson refused to have a court with the war effort or withdraw the troops. and johnson couldn't decide which way to go, escalate the war and get it over with or begin bringing american troops home and it lead to that in '68, and johnson refused to acknowledge the war was going badly, he refused to shift courts, he refused to seek an alternative strategy and seek this middle ground between too much escalation or withdraw and it ended up as a disaster or i'll have to reject the moment, the war wasn't being won. >> let's put the year in
11:19 pm
context, we are talking about eugene mccarthy, the senator to challenge a sitting president in his own party. that announcement was made on november 30, 1967. president johnson fairly defeats mccarthy. he didn't lose the primary it was just his margin of victory. >> he one by four points, i believe. the part he one was extraordinary and i think showed his dissatisfaction within the parties. bobby kennedy actually used that. the party is divided. >> that's right, the party was clearly, there was a huge division. one thing worth pointing out though about the new hampshire vote, 20% voted for george wallace, it wasn't a bunch of
11:20 pm
hippies saying we shouldn't bring johnson home. he wanted a way out of vietnam. they didn't care if it was withdrawal or escalation, they wanted to find a way to bring troops home, there's a lot of this, he didn't run on a mass form, and he send a message to washington about how you feel about the war effort and he could bring in people not just opposed to the war but he could bring in more moderate, conservative voters who supported the war effort, but were upset with how the way the world was going to it created a big coalition in new hampshire. >> four days after, robert f. kennedy enters the race. president johnson announcing he
11:21 pm
will not seek reelection. of course senator kennedy winning the california primary on the evening of june four, and then tragically shot after midnight, dying the following day. hubert humphrey accepting the nomination on august 29th, and richard nixon he lepthd president on november 5th. >> let's go to ohio. you're next. >> how are you, and mrs. kennedy my sympathies in the loss of a wonderful person robert kennedy. >> thank you very much. >> i'm sorry? ? thank you. >> i said thank you. >> you're welcome. i was age 23 in the years i studied humphrey, but i read material that they broke on the vietnam war and johnson stopped including humphrey in some of the briefings and he was really
11:22 pm
on the outside. and i felt when i was witnessing this first primary that i would vote in, that robert kennedy brought sort of a love an a positive that i thought, in contrast i disagree with mr. cone. my impression at age 23, i thought he was under mying the military. he was in an atmosphere, so my friends were or plea abused and abandoned. the military was blamed for things and they're among the bravest and finest people in the world who fought there and bob kennedy brought love and respect across the boarder. from my feeling and my life at age 23, that i could not in the same breath talk about your
11:23 pm
wonderful bob kennedy and g mccarthy. those are my thoughts and i would ask for your thoughts, please. >> thank you for the call, i think if anything he probably shouldn't have been in vietnam and he thought the war, his criticism of the war of the political leadership, particularly of president johnson, and the strategy that was being utilized in vietnam, so i think there were people perhaps that were in the camp but mccarthy and the supporters who made it more critical. >> kathleen kennedy thompson who on the critical stage did your father rely on for advice when he began his primary campaign leading up to california, who did he count on? >> well, he -- you know he had two terrific aides in adam and peter who he trusted. really what my father, and you
11:24 pm
read his speeches and you talked to him he really believed in the young and he thought the young people with whom he spoke on college campuses had a lot to say and that's who he often listened to, but what he really was moved by was those who said, you know, go to the indian reservations, go to the delta, go to the inner city, so he was listening enlarge part to his heart and to what was going on with young people. he losses the oregon primary and comes back to win the california primary. how did he do that? what changed? >> well, the easy answer is the demographics changed. he won, i think, i can't
11:25 pm
remember exactly, but almost 98% of his span i can vote hispanic vote, he won in some present sinks areas all of the african-american votes, where the people who, hispanics and african-americans were not a large part of the population in oregon so that was one of the go differences in the two states so unlike about g. mccarthy, my father was tireless campaigner. he got up really early, he worked 15-hour days, all over the state, listening to people, engage with people, hearing people, and that thrust, that energy and that ability and that determination to win was i think compelling, but it was also
11:26 pm
helpful that his message of everybody has a role to play in this society, everybody can participate, everybody should have a job. >> the demographics was the reason kennedy was successful in california and indiana. he 180 to 90% of the african-american vote. in california he had a big pulling lead going into that campaign and it narrowed and part of it was because of his empathy to hispanic voters. of course kathleen kennedy, as your father said the win in chicago in reference to the
11:27 pm
democratic convention which we'll be walking through in a moment, but walk us through the evening of your father's assassination and the days that followed. >> i'm not going to go through that kind of tragedy, that's not what i would want to do, but i think what you saw on the days that followed was the enormous out pouring for my father, the train that went from new york to washington which was supposed to be two hours i think lasted seven, eight hours because there were so many people on the tracks that came out, both, as you know train tracks go through working class areas of the country, of the states, and both white and black came out saluting with their hands over their hearts because they saw their champion was fallen, and i think that what my father was able to do was to reach out to
11:28 pm
people who afterwards did not get along sole. i mean, michael is right, in california the whites were afraid of my father's affection with african-americans and hispanics but there was still a white working class population that believed in my father. they saw him take on tough issues in his career. they identified with his sense of justice, and they really felt that they had lost something. >> yeah, i just want to add to that, i think -- i didn't read much about it in the book but the train ride from new york to washington is really an extraordinary story of just thousands of people coming out to say good-bye to kennedy, and i think it's a combination of not just love for him and love
11:29 pm
the kennedys in general, but this assassination happened two months after the assassination of martin loot there luther king and i think some of the politics of it, it really destroyed humphrey's chance to win the president presidency, and he said something at the time of something about that the -- that the assassination hurt his can presidency, after the assassination of kennedy the
11:30 pm
numbers shifted. its was a very tragic moment but in a sense it did turn people to the view that how much more can this contree take? you think it's promising now and i'm not minimizing the difference, when you have two assassinations in two months, people ask how can this country survive. >> if your dad would have lived, would he have gotten the nomination in 1968. >> it's always hard to speculate. as i said i think would he have because i think he was -- he one the california primary, he won every primary he entered except for oregon and he had good relationships with the insiders and could have made a very good argument he was the candidate that could pull people together so i believe he could have won.
11:31 pm
i think that if he wasn't nominated and he had won all these primaries, it would really hurt humphrey because it would look like he wasn't really the candidate of the people, and i think humphrey about have understand that as well, as well. >> that's what i believe, you know, it's easy to say because who knows, actually, what would have happened, but i do think my father would have understood after the california primary he had to get along with mccarthy, and the question is whether mccarthy would be willing to do that because he if was, as you heard earlier, it might have been possible to say that for the good of the country we have to work together. >> so i say this and this is not a criticism, and i mean this as
11:32 pm
a positive, bobby kennedy ticked a lot of people off, labor did not like him, the southern democrats not a fan and lyndon johnson did not like him at all and i think it would have been hard for him to win the nomination, in a large part because of johnson, but i think the threat of kennedy being the nominee would have been enough to convince johnson to have given humphrey more leeway to distance himself on the white house and the war on vietnam, and this ended up being he couldn't bring back liberals in his own party to support his can him. i think if kennedy would have
11:33 pm
lived would have helped him to be a nominee and there's nothing on vietnam i don't like, but after kennedy was killed there was no longer an issue. johnson fought tooth and nail. humphrey tried recreating the sum over of '68 to craft a message that would be somewhat his own message of the board to say that johnson is lacking and to his discredited, when the law went down it ended up in the convention in chicago at the dnc, he even dorgs ed endorsed the war. humphrey ends up endorsing johnson's position and i think ultimately had he done something different, had he come out in favor of the war he would have
11:34 pm
one the election. >> greg, in pittsburgh, pennsylvania pennsylvania, go ahead, sir. >> thank you, i was a nine-year-old on the tracks in baltimore and as you can tell i'm welling up just thinking about it, but my question is this: as, looking forward and i hope this isn't too far off track but what was the trajectory in the democratic party after 1968 that made them incapable of mounting such a fractured challenge to richard nixon four years later? can you summarize what was going on in the party that they were not able to put together a reasonable challenge to nixon in 1972. thank you. >> thank you. well, i would say, i mean, the problem is the party is hoplessly divided. it was divided not just on the
11:35 pm
war but the establishment activityist winning. several of the unions refused to endorse him, a lot of democrats that didn't support mack golf mack govern. cgovern. you have civil rights, mcgovern was much more liberal on civil rights issues, and that ended up creating huge divisions within the party. i do think what is worth if humphrey wins, those divisions are not as severe. he was in a better position to navigate both sides of the party more than george mcgovern would have been. >> michael cullen and joining us
11:36 pm
from west palm beach florida, kathy kennedy townsend. >> mrs. town send, i was curious, in what ways were your father's views similar to his brother john toward richard nixon and in what ways were they differentin what ways were your father's views similar to his brother john toward richard nixon and in what ways were they different. >> that's a good question. when they were in the senate together, they got along as a republican and democrat. there was not the same animosity between the parties in the 50s as there is now, because they bought fought in world war ii. you may disagree on some policies but what you shared is the threat of death and seeing
11:37 pm
your fellow soldiers die, so i think that always creates a kind of bond. my father, you know, running the campaign against nixon i don't think they supported him, so i think the president kennedy changed his views about nixon or changed his relationship to nixon in a sense during the campaign. >> larry from nebraska. >> the reason i called, in 1980 they came with a colleges of speeches with your father and i always found the god bless speech to be the symbol of his campaign because he it was a
11:38 pm
heart felt leap of face in the founding fathers and because of a disconnect he felt there should be an effort by the president if he had been elected president he would have traveled to keep the connection and i'm wondering if that's what we need today in order to -- because there is a little bit of disconnect, but do you think there's anyone in any party that might be able to believe that as well. >> thank you. thank you for reading my father's speeches. i really appreciate that, i think he has a lot to say and i think it speaks to us as well today. i think that's an important point of what my father was able to do after the martin luther king as assassination, he went
11:39 pm
into minneapolis, into the inner city to say martin luther king died and how his brother was killed by a white man and to say we have all suffered and there's pain and during the speech he asked, he said we all have to have love and compassion for those who suffer, whether they be white or black and let us say a prayer for our country and indianapolis was one of the few cities in the country who didn't break out to riots because there was a politician that was able to reach out to people's pain and say i understand where you're coming from and let's look together and you can see number one that if somebody is able to do that, and does do that and has the courage to do that after he was told by the chief of police and the mayor don't go into the inner city, he did it any way, so it makes a
11:40 pm
difference. so there is actions one can take that can lift people's spirits up and bring peace. that i think is your question. as to who can do it today, i think we have a whole slew of candidates on the democratic side and it's very exciting to see what they'll say and do and we'll learn moreover the next 24 months who does it the best. >> we even can you remember ramming you to follow us on twitter and we have a question we would like you to answer and the question is this: which party has changed the most since 1968? you can follow us on twitter and cast your votes and we'll have it up during the course of the week. let's turn to chicago and the convention. it was in late august, giving the democratic party only two
11:41 pm
motion to get ready for the november election. how significant were those anti war protests nchlths tests --. they were a party that was fractured and i think it raised questions in people's minds that they couldn't even run a country country. the protests in chicago did not represent the core of the anti war. the groups that were there to get these, you know, abbey hoffman and jay rubin and stuff like that, i think they wanted
11:42 pm
to see the police over react which of course they did. that sort of points out the american corruption of the politics, it's often forgotten but the post -- that chicago created a commission to look at the violence and they concluded the police are the ones who put them in riot care and if i did they acted in a way that was incredibly, but those pictures i think it made it hard for humphrey to run for president. it's an interesting story he initially credit cited the chicago police which independented up creating a
11:43 pm
backlash. most people supported them and you have to backtrack and that supported liberals, so it did create a lot of problems for him because when he -- he ended up rallying in the campaign. >> kathleen kennedy, how serious was the country in asking that ted kennedy be his running mate. >> there is a lot of afengs for our family but i know my uncle was not interested. we were a torn apart family. my mother had 11 chirp without a father and there was a lot of hearing that had to go on in our family. let's go to tom inner
11:44 pm
re-pennsylvania. good morning -- in pennsylvania. >> what sticks out in my mind most about john kennedy and robert kennedy they were the last leaders we had that represented the broad middle class in america. what's happened since then is we wouldn't up with the republicans representing the top, no more than 10 percent, the democrats representing the liberal, the far left radical liberal left and the 80% of us in the middle have no representation in national politics and very often in state politics, do you foresee anybody coming forward in the near future tour to
11:45 pm
represent america's middle 80%. >> tom, thank you. let's turn to kathleen kennedy so you know, i think we had the best economic performance for middle class and actually for working people in the '90s, through the economic policies and that was a very productive time. i think that president obama worked very hard to develop a strong middle class and obviously i think the healthcare bill even though it wasn't popular really helps people because they can have healthcare even if they lose a job so i would disagree with the premise in a sense but that's understandable on my party. the question is, and i think there's going to be a lot of
11:46 pm
democratic candidates that i said earlier who reached out to these party, and we'll decide who is going to do the best job, it's not just a fraction of the party. >> guy which party has changed the most since 1968, you can follow. hubert humphrey accepting his party's nomination. >> the pay cut my fellow americans, this is not the first time that our nation has faced a challenge to its life and its purpose, and each time that we had to face these challenges, we have emerged with new greatness and with new strength. we must make this moment of crisis, we must make it a moment
11:47 pm
of creation. (mrausapplause) as it has been said, in the worst of times a great people must do the best of things and let us do it. we stand at such a moment now in the affairs of this nation, because my fellow americans, something new, something different has happened. there is an end of an era, and there is the beginning of a new day.
11:48 pm
and it is the special genius of the democratic party that it welcomes change, not as an enemy but as an ally, not as a force to be suppressed, but as an instrument of progress to be encouraged. >> 1968, hubert humphrey the democratic nominee. michael. >> just as to that last caller, one of the ironies, you mentioned kennedy and the middle class, mccarthy did much better than kennedy among the middle class. an interesting thing there's something about the humphrey speech, it's interesting, he almost one the nomination for the presidency i should say and did so in part because labor rallied around him. he had long standing support with unions going back to the 40s, and they rallied and they
11:49 pm
also rallied against george wallace, and in a sense that was the last -- not the last one but certainly maybe the best one i can think of of labor really almost bringing democratic nominee over the finish line. and from that point on, democrats have a factual relationship with the labor movement. in and a big part of the reason was this is what we talked a lot about today, are the rare also issues. >> let's go to lieu. go he had, lu, in new york. >> thank you. mrs. townsend thank you for being on this show this morning. we're all very grateful for your
11:50 pm
father's dedication to america. he was such a good man. >> thank you. >> you know, i was 12 years old and i was in social study yeast, and he with were following the primaries with my teacher and i work up the #234ek9 northerning, and we miss your father very much and i want to tell you we all need to come together as a country to face our problems. we can't be divided, it's so important for all the churches and all the faiths to come together and find common ground. >> thank you for the call. kathleen kennedy townsend your reaction. >> i think that's true and i think that part of that is from both sides of the aisle to
11:51 pm
respect the other side, to understand that even if we disagree on policies, we -- both sides love america, and each side, you know, each person has a sense of dignity within themselves, and i think that really when we talked about how we need love and compassion towards those in our country, it really is a wonderful thing to say because i think what he was able to understand that if he disagrees with somebody he can respect from where they came from and respect them as a human being. at one point he said we are all on this earth for a short period of time and we all have a hope that our children will do better and have' opportunity, that's what we share. and let's figure out a way if we cannot humanize the other size
11:52 pm
and rather work with them, i think it would be a much better poll sticks. unfortunately that's not how people raise money, but it is the way to build a stronger country and i thank you for your country. >> let's look at richard nixon getting 301 electoral votes. governor george wallace obtaining 46. the popular vote was closer. why did richard nixon win. that's a good question. i would say a couple of factors, i would think primarily the sense of distongues in the country. i think desires to going bake to the 1960 election, everything is fine, and it's hard to understand how it was, how
11:53 pm
dysfunctional it was, p, -- i think that was a big factor for nixon, i think another important factor was you just read the electric tore y'all numbers, i think i have another week then humphrey will pull the nomination out. i pulled the election out, it, but one thing about nixon, there were people behind him. nixon was not a popular figure. one day, i would just tell you
11:54 pm
the one thing -- they didn't like richard nixon, they didn't like him, they didn't respect him and i think that was a view held by a lot of americans, it speaks to reach candidates he barely, barely hems him, and it would have been a larger number. >> we'll focus on the party next week. kathleen thomas, what is the legacy for fib all causes and for the democratic party. i i hope that we should get involved, we should have our voice heard and voice of the young have a lot to teach us. as my father said they have the
11:55 pm
greatest stake in the future and i think that the young made enormous difference in 1968, and i think the young can make a lot of difference today. >> yeah, i think -- i kind of agree with that, the lesson in '68 was you have this anticipation by all kinds of people who opposed the war in vietnam and wanted to see political change and i think one of the take aways from liberals in '68 was that the engagement can make a difference and i think you could go to the anniversary of lyndon johnson dropping out of the presidential campaign and a lot of that was because of the liberals who came out and opposed his nomination, so i think.
11:56 pm
>> the book is called the 1968 election and politics. joining us from west palm beach is kathleen kennedy townsend. thank you for being here, we appreciate it. >> live sunday morning, america in turmoil. we look at the impact of the vietnam at home. while the war was fought in the jungles of vietnam, civil disobedience on the streit and the epic battle to survive the vietnam war and. watch 1968, america in turmoil live sunday at 8:30 eastern on
11:57 pm
cspan washington journal and american history tv on cspan 3. 50 years ago on march 31, 1968, president johnson announced his decision not to run for reelection that year. up next on real america, lbj's entire 40-minute address from the oval office. he begins by outlining the steps to limit the war in vietnam. >> each week american history tv real america brings you films that provides context for today's public affairs issues.

31 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on