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tv   1968 - America in Turmoil Liberal Politics  CSPAN  August 9, 2018 8:04am-9:39am EDT

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and about the world they are about to inherit. public, ie talks in have tried in vain to alter our course in vietnam before it further saps our spirit and our manpower. for the raises, the risk of wider war, and further destroy the country and the people it was meant to save. i cannot stand aside from the contest that will decide our nations future and our children's future. the remarkable new hampshire campaign of senator eugene mccarthy has proven how deep are the present divisions within our party and within our country. until that was probably clear, my presence in the race would have been seen as a clash of personalities rather than issues. overhat fight is won,
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policies which i have long been challenging, i'm a center that race. a fight that is just beginning -- i must enter that race. i find that is just beginning i believe that i can win. i'd previously communicated this to president johnson and late last night, my brother, senator edward kennedy, battled myconsin to communicate decision to senator mccarthy and make clear to my brother and senator mccarthy that my candidacy would not be in opposition to his, but in harmony. my aim is to both support and inand his valued campaign the spirit of his november 30 statement. time, ite month at a is important now that he achieve the largest possible majority in in wisconsin, in pennsylvania, and in the massachusetts primaries. i strongly support his effort in those states and i urge all my
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friends to give him their help and their votes. both of us will be encouraging like-minded delegates in the national convention. elseof us want above all and "a convention in chicago, free to choose a new course for our party and for our country. finally, my decision reflects no personal animosity or disrespect towards president johnson. served president kennedy with the utmost loyalty and was extremely kind to me and members of my family in the difficult months which followed the events of november of 1963. i often commended for his efforts and help on education and in many other areas. i have the deepest sympathy for the burdens that he carries today.
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with the issue is not personal. it is our profound differences over where we are heading and what we want to accomplish. i do not lightly dismiss the dangers and the difficulty of challenging an incumbent president. timesese are not ordinary and this is not an ordinary election. at stake is not simply the leadership of our party, and even our country. it is our right to the moral leadbecame clear the johnson
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politically would be hard-pressed and have strong
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support among liberal groups and the democratic party and when he became vice president for ways, humphreye was a bigger supporter of the war than johnson is. he became the public face of trying to sell the war to the american people. this created a lot of problems fomus and that history
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with lyndon johnson, so when gene mccarthy was running, he was running more clearly against the war.
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theopular magazine in 1960's and 70's, teen magazine
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and it with you and your father on the cover. you were 16 years old at the time, i haven't seen that ask her for a long time. it's very sweet of you to put it
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position to the war known. for democrats, he was a very
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curial figure, not very popular on capitol hill. he'd been the number two choice for johnson to be his vp nominee, he lost out to hubert humphrey. when mccarthy challenged it was
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very exciting to have my father announce his presidency. we were thrilled he was going to askedd a number of people were you afraid and one of the things we learned in our family is not to be afraid. her father's
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candidacy, senator eugene mccarthy for march of 1968. let's watch. >> what is your reaction as a politician? can you take him? glaxo haven't been moved to withdraw and i think i can certainly win in wisconsin and i see no reason to win -- to believe i couldn't go on and win another primaries.
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>> does this cause you in any way to reassess your overall position? >> i don't think there has been any reassessment. i have been committed since i first announced to run in the primaries to which i have responded and i made those changes in my plans, either because of new hampshire or in consequence of the announcement of senator kennedy. i keep hearing intimations of a deal at some point in the future. are you prepared to deal with bobby kennedy? >> are not prepared to deal with anybody as far as my candidacy is concerned. i committed myself to a group of young people and i thought rather idealistic adults and i said i would be their candidate. i intend to run as i committed myself to run, in the situation develops a convention where i can't win, i will release my delegates. i don't have any power over them
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anyways, i don't have a block of delegation i could trade with and i did -- if i did have, i wouldn't trade with them. as far as i'm concerned, it will be an open and free convention. andll run as hard as i can stand as firm as i can. if i find i can't win, it will say to my delegnot john f. kenn. he never really got over the way that bobby kennedy got in the race in 1968. the morning after.
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vice president biden came and speaker nancy pelosi and steny hoyer and lots of brothers and sisters, cousins, grandchildren,
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father you can achieve things. feet callswhat your you. my mother believed in my father, which is a very important part of his success. albert in chicago, democrats line. go ahead, house and it was
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clearly a very tough relationship. as you know, my father objected to his brother's choice of johnson for vice 1968
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the ratic campaign from r.f.k. campaign. >> robert kennedy and people 345 are not registered this year. in 10 years these americans will inherit the problems we don't today. >> it is suggested in the next
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several decades people will have to wear a gas mask in new york becominguse the air is so polluted. you breathef refuse every year and the same to a degree in other areas. that will spread to the rural areas. hings we can do about automobiles and laws we can pass about dumping and throwing and e in lakes and streams into the air. otherwise as secretary gardner have to live underground. industry must do something and might take hat you in it. i think that is what will make the difference in this country. >> nebraska
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who could go to college got out and that the people who couldn't afford college didn't get out of the draft. he said that was unfair. he said that to college students. he was willing to go right into people who were benefiting rom the unfair system and say this is unfair. this is unjust. this is not the way this country act.d so, i think that my father was very clear he didn't like the that so many people who couldn't afford college went to vietnam and those who
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part was to minimize the fallout from letting it fall to communists and it was something that came back from the wayte in the 1970's for democrats to avoid that and was fight in vietnam the reliability was that it a lot of people that democrats couldn't ffectively handle foreign policy because of the effort in
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vietnam. o in a lot of ways it created, 1968. e said the year america came apart. among the things he talked about the race riots following the martin nation of dr. luther king, the loss of your father and summering anti-war which made democrats bitter and humphrey seen as a the american and establishment the best and
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brightest had been broken at the vietnam. your thoughts.
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some democrats couldn't stand
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him. there were serious fault lines arts and ty.
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style on the "washington post" elizabeth last night and telling her a little it about the history of that 1968 and democratic
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primary. here is an excerpt. now they are facing ompetition for a new candidate and robert kennedy had decided to run. >> with the decisions that are convention today. >> there were other unexpected events. >> with our hopes and world's hopes for peace in the balance day.y i do not. > they didn't realize the president's speech that he was about to tell the nation he
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would not run for the presidency again. not seekingly, i shall the will not accept, nomination of my party for another term as your president. ♪ ♪ united president of the states. >> thank you. >> vice president humphrey became the last major democratic to enter the race. as heir to the support that had the president humphrey acquired a substantial number of delegate votes before convention. and ank you very much.
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controlled by powerful democrats party power ratic brokers. o, even though kennedy and
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hubert humphrey had not participated in the primaries who was hard to the ign against him so campaign against hubert humphrey would have to be with the insiders of t
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test. test. t because he refused to
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cknowledge that it was going badly and shift course, refused o seek an alternative strategy and tried to seek a middle green and und between escalation withdrawal and ended up worse so i reject the architect
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november of 1967 to challenge a president in his own party. that announcement was made november 30 of 1967. president johnson flairly defeats eugene mccarthy in the 12 hampshire primary march and that is key, michael cohen. he didn't lose it. margin of cally his victory. mr. cohen: he won by four days
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robert f. can't enters the race. that you on march 16, 1968. he son announces march 31 will not seek re-election.
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hubert humphrey enters the race which is til april 27 a key thing to keep in mind. senator canada won the the ornia primary on evening of june 4 and then after midnight dying the following day. hubert humphrey accepting the and richardugust 29 and richardugust 29 nixon elected president
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captioning performed by vitac >> -- that robert kennedy brought sort of a love and unity, there was a positiveness to it. in contrast i disagree with mr. cohen. my impression at age 23 in listening to mccarthy, i thought he was undermining the military, contributing to an atmosphere which some of my friends i thought were horribly abused and abandoned, the military was blamed for things and they were among the bravest finest people in the world who fought there. in contrast bob kennedy i thought brought love and respect across the board. from my feeling and my life at
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age 23 that i could not in the same breath talk about your wonderful bob kennedy and gene mccarthy. those are my thoughts and i would ask for your comments, please. >> fred, thank you for the call. let's begin with michael cohen. >> i would say in defense gene mccarthy i don't think he was critical of the military and soldiers themselves. he thought they shouldn't have been in vietnam and his criticisms were of the political leadership of the country, particularly of president johnson and the strategy that would be utilized in vietnam. so i think -- i mean, i think there were people perhaps were in the mccarty camp, mccarthy some of his supporters may have been more critical of the military but i don't think that's true of mccarthy himself. >> kathleen kennedy townsend who did your father rely on for advice as he began his campaign leading up to california? who did he count on? >> well, you know, he had two terrific aides in adam wolinski
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and peter edelman who he trusted. well what my father -- if you read his speeches and if you talked to him he really believed in the young and he thought that the young people with whom he spoke on college campuses had a lot to say and that's who he often listened to in a sense. i mean, there were all the old kennedy hands, ted sorensen, dave powers who you hear about, but what he really was moved by was those who said, you know, go see cesar chavez, go to the indian reservations, go into the inner city, go to the delta with marianne wright-edelman. so he was listening in large part to his heart and to what was going on with young people. >> he loses the oregon primary and comes back to win the california primary. how did he do that? what changed? >> well, the easy answer is the
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demographics changed. he won, i think -- i can't remember exactly, but almost 98% of the hispanic vote, for instance, in california. he won huge in some precincts 100% of the african-american vote. so he was winning working -- working class people, he was winning in that group, whereas the people like -- you know, hispanics and african-americans were not a large part of the population in oregon. so that was one of the big differences between the two states. he, unlike, as you said about gene mccarthy, my father was a tireless campaigner. he got up really early, he worked, you know, 15-hour days all over the state listening to people, engaged with people, hearing people and that thrust,
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that energy and that ability and determination to win was, i think, compelling, but it was also helpful that his message of everybody has a role to play in this society, everybody can participate, everybody should have a job that gives you dignity was also a compelling message. >> the demographics were the reason why kennedy was successful in california and in indiana. in indiana he won in large measure because he won 80% to 90% of the african-american vote. he won about 30% of the white vote in indiana and only beat mccarthy if i remember by four or five points. in california he had a double digit polling lead going into that campaign and it narrowed and part of it was because of his identification with black and hispanic voters. the more kennedy was seen as someone close to both communities the more white voters tended to back away from him. >> and of course kathleen kennedy as your father famously
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said now it's on to chicago and let's win there, a reference to the democratic convention which we will talk about in just a moment. walk us through the evening of your father's assassination, what you remember and the days that followed. >> well, i'm not going to go through that kind of tragedy, that's not what i would want to do, but i think what you saw in the days that followed was the enormous outpouring of affection for my father. the train that went from new york to washington, which was supposed to be normally two hours i think lasted seven, eight hours because there were so many people on the tracks that came out, both -- as you know, train tracks go through working class areas of the country, of the states, and both white and black came out saluting with their hands over their hearts because they saw that their champion had -- was
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fallen. and i think that what my father was able to do was to reach out to people who afterwards did not get along so well. i mean, michael is right that in california a number of whites were afraid of my father's affection with african-americans and hispanics, but there was still a large white working class population that believed in my father, they had seen him take on tough issues in his career, they identified with his -- his sense of justice and they really felt that they had lost something. >> yeah, i mean, i just want to add to that. i think -- i didn't write about much in the book, but the train ride from new york to washington is really an extraordinary story of just thousands and thousands of people coming out to say good-bye to kennedy, and i think it's -- was a combination not
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just of people's love for him and love for the kennedys in general, but i think a real sense that you have to remember that this assassination happened two months after the assassination of martin luther king and the riots that followed that assassination. i think there was a real sense when kennedy was killed that the country was coming apart at the seams and i think people felt as though this was sort of -- how much more of this violence could the country take. and i do think that, you know, the politics of it, i think it really -- it destroyed humphreys' chance of winning the presidency. he still could have won but it really hurt him, and he said that at the time. people came to see the country as falling apart and wanting a change and believing democrats couldn't fix the problems in the country. he said something at the time, something about that the -- you know, that the assassination basically derailed his candidacy and a lot of that i think is true. if you look at the polling up to that point humphrey was leading nixon in head to head polling.
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after the assassination of kennedy those numbers shifted. so i do think that it was a very seminole moment, obviously, of course a very fra jik moment, goes without saying, but seminole in the nation's politics that it really did turn people to the view that how much more could this country take. the problems we see now, i'm not minimizing them at all, they're significant. when you have two major assassinations in two months, political assassinations it causes people to question what is happening in the country and can we survive. >> and the what if question, kathleen kennedy townsend, had your dad lived, would he have gotten the nomination in 1968? >> well, it's always hard to speculate. as i said, i think he would have because i think that he was -- he won the california primary, won every primary that he entered except for oregon and he had good relationships with the insiders. i think could have made a very good argument that he was the
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candidate that could bring and pull people together. so i believe he could have won. i think that if he wasn't nominated and he had won all these primaries, it would really hurt humphrey because it would look like he wasn't really the candidate of the people. i think humphrey would have understood that as well. that's what i believe. you know, it's easy to say because who knows actually what would have happened, but i do think that my father understood after the california primary that he had to get along better with gene mccarthy that they had to make a deal in some way. and the question is whether gene mccarthy would be willing to do that because he was, as you heard earlier, bitter with my father, but it might have been possible to say for the good of
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the country we've got to work together. >> so i will say this and this is not a criticism and i mean this as a positive, but bobby kennedy ticked a lot of people off, a lot of people within the democratic party. labor did not like him. the southern democrats, not a fan. of course, lyndon johnson didn't like him at all. i actually think it would have been very hard for him to win the nomination in large part because of johnson. i think johnson would have done everything he possibly would have done to keep kennedy from being the nominee. i do think that the threat of kennedy being the nominee would have been enough to convince johnson to have given humphrey more sri lay to distance himself from the white house and the war on vietnam. this ended up being i think the reason why -- the level that humphrey lost. he couldn't distance himself from johnson on the war. only in late september when he sort of distanced himself from johnson and the war did the liberals come home.
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i think had kennedy lived just the mere presence of him as a possible nominee would have been enough for johnson to do everything he possibly could do to help humphrey be the nominee which would have been saying to humphrey if you want to say something on vietnam i don't like i think he would have supported it. after kennedy was killed that was no longer an issue. johnson fought tooth and nail to prevent humphrey from distancing himself in any way. humphrey tried in the summer of '68 to craft a message that would be somewhat his own message on the war, that would say he wasn't johnson's lackey and johnson wouldn't let him do it. humphrey to his discredit went along with that and ended up in the convention in chicago in -- at the dnc, he endorsed basically johnson's position on the war after his entire campaign in which mccarthy and kennedy challenging him on the war in vietnam, all these voters coming out and saying we want a change on the war, humphrey ends up endorsing johnson's position.
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had he come out against the war i think he probably would have won the election. >> our series "1968: america in turmoil." greg, in pittsburgh, pennsylvania, you're next. >> caller: thank you. i was a nine-year-old on the tracks in baltimore and as you can tell i'm welling up just thinking about it. but my question -- my question is this: as looking forward, and i hope this isn't too far off track, but what was the trajectory in the democratic party after 1968 that made them incapable of mounting such a fractured challenge to richard nixon four years later? can you summarize what was going on within the party that they were not able to put together reasonable challenge to nixon by 1972? thank you. >> thank you. >> well, i would say -- i mean, the problem is the party was hopelessly divided. it was divided between not just on the war, but between sort of
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its establishment and sort of activist wings. so you had a situation in which george mcgovern ends up being the nominee in '72. several of the unions refused to endorse him. you had a lot of moderate conservative democrats who didn't support mcgovern's candidacy. you had huge divides in the party. and i shouldn't minimize vietnam because it was obviously important. mcgovern was a very strong anti-war candidate and a lot of democrats, especially south democrats, didn't support that position, but i think also you had this huge divide between southern democrats and northern democrats, particularly over civil rights. johnson -- mcgovern was much more liberal on civil rights issues and a whole host of cultural issues and that ended up, i think, creating huge divisions within the party. i do think for what it's worth if humphrey wins in '68 those divisions are not as severe. i think humphrey was better positioned to be able to navigate both sides of the party than certainly someone like
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george mcgovern would have been. >> for our radio audience our guests in washington, michael cohen and joining us from west palm beach florida kathleen kennedy townsend. and jeff is on the phone from warm springs, georgia. go ahead, please. >> caller: mrs. townsend, i was curious, in what ways were your father's views similar to his brother john toward richard nixon and in what ways were they different? >> that's a good question. interestingly enough, when richard nixon and my uncle john kennedy were in the senate together they got along. they had both fought -- i mean, they got along as a republican and democrat, but there was not the same animosity we had between parties that -- in the '50s that there is now. i think that's in large part because they had both fought in world war ii, so there was a respect for people who were in the trenches together, who put their life on the line together. you may disagree on some policies, but after all what
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you've shared is the threat of death and seeing your fellow soldiers die. so i think that there's -- that always creates a kind of bond. my father, you know, then ran the campaign against nixon, i don't think they respected him during the campaign as much clearly, when you run against somebody it can be rather very tough and difficult, and so i think that president kennedy changed his views about nixon or changed his relationship to nixon in a sense during the 1960 campaign and that carried forward with my father. >> phil from omaha, nebraska. you're next. go ahead, please. >> caller: hello. ms. townsend, glad to see you. i remember you came to omaha about ten years ago for catholic democrats. the reason i called is because in 1980 there was a collection of speeches on your father and
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i've always thought the scott's bluff speech to be a symbol of his campaign because it was a heart felt leap of faith in the founding fathers and then he basically was -- because there was a disconnect he felt there should be a collaborative effort by the president if he had been elected president he would have traveled to keep the connection and i wonder if that's what we need today in order to -- because there is a little bit of a disconnect but not quite as much as '68. do you think there's anybody in any party that might be able to believe that as well? >> thank you, phil. >> thank you. well, thanks for reading my father's speeches, i really appreciate that. i think he has a lot to say and i think it speaks to us today as well. we haven't discussed what he did say and did do after the martin luther king assassination and i think that's an important point of what my father was able to do, which is to -- if you don't
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mind me going into that, which is to go into indianapolis to the inner city and to say to people there that martin luther king had died, which they didn't know, and then talk about how his own brother had been killed by a white man so to try to say we all have suffered and there's pain, and then during the speech he asks -- he said we all have to have love and compassion for those who suffer, whether they be white or black, and let us say a prayer for our country. indianapolis was one of the few cities in the country that didn't break out into riots because there was a politician who could reach out to people's pain and say, i understand where you're coming from, and let's work together. i think that's -- you can see, number one, that if somebody is able to do that and does do that and has the courage to do that after he was told by the chief of police and the mayor don't go
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into the inner city, he did it anyway, that it makes a difference. so there is actions one can take that can lift people's spirits up and bring peace. that's, i think, your question. as to who can do it today, i think we've got a whole slew of candidates on the democratic side and it's very exciting to see what they say and what they'll do and we'll learn more over the next 24 months about who does it the best. >> we encourage you to follow us on twitter @c-spanhistory. we have a question we'd like you to answer, we will have it up for the full week and some of the responses next week as we focus on 1968, america in turmoil. the question is: which party has changed the most since 1968. you can follow us on twitter and cast your vote and we will have it up during the course of the week. let's turn to chicago and the convention. the convention was in late august to coincide with lyndon
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johnson's birthday. >> that's right. >> expecting that he was going to be renominated, giving the democratic party only two months to get ready for the november election. how significant were those anti-war protests? >> hugely significant. in the sense that it created an aura around the party of dysfunction. it was impossible to look at that convention and see what the democrats were doing and not conclude democrats were a party that was just incredibly fractured. i think it raised questions in people's minds, reasonable questions, could democrats govern the country? they couldn't even run a convention. that was certainly the sentiment among a lot of people. i think it's worth pointing out that the people who were protesting in chicago did not represent, i think, the core of the anti-war left. many of mccarthy's supporters stayed home from chicago, fearful of violence and the groups that were there, the hippies and, you know, abby hoffman and jerry ruben and
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folks like that, they had a much, i think, more frankly nialistic view of politics. i think they wanted the violence and to see the police overreact which they did, in a way to point out the corruption in american politics. in a sense they were successful. i mean, it's often forgotten, but the host -- chicago created a commission to look at the violence and basically concluded it had been a police riot, the police were the runs that had been rioting and not the demonstrators. they acted in a way that was cruel and incredibly -- i don't want to say homicidal, that's too strong, but violent towards the protesters. those pictures did a lot of damage to the party and made it hard for humphrey to run for president. it's interesting the stories that he initially criticized the chicago police which ended up
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creating a backlash because most people actually thought the police acted appropriately. they were find with the violence against the protesters. then he had to backtrack from that pie which upset liberals. when the race started he was basically running in the high 20s, low 30s in the polls and was double digits behind nixon. ended up rallying by the end of the campaign, but he started off incredibly hamstrung as a candidate. >> kathleen kennedy townsend, how serious was hubert humphrey in asking your uncle, senator ted kennedy, to be his running mate? sn>> he probably, you know, saw that there was a lot of affection for my family, but i think my uncle -- i know my uncle was not interested, he thought we were a torn apart family. my mother had 11 children without a father. there was a lot of healing that had to go on in our own family.
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>> let's go to tom in erie, pennsylvania. go ahead, please. >> caller: good morning. what sticks in my mind the most about both robert kennedy and john steny is they were the last leaders that we had, political leaders, that truly represented the broad middle class in america. what's happened since then is that we've wound up with the republicans representing the top no more than 10%, the democrats representing the liberal -- the far left radical liberal left and the 80% of us in the middle have no representation in national politics and very often in state politics. do you foresee anybody coming
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forward in the near future that will -- that has the potential to truly represent america's middle 80%? >> tom, thank you. let's turn to kathleen kennedy townsend. >> well, i would respectfully disagree. i think that president clinton did a very good job in lifting up the middle class. i think we had the best economic performance for middle class and actually for working people in the '90s, through the economic policies, and that was a very productive time. i think that president obama worked very hard to develop a strong middle class and obviously i think the healthcare bill, although it wasn't popular, really helps people because they know they can have healthcare, even if they lose a job. so i would disagree with the premise in a sense, but that's -- that might be understandable on my part.
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it is -- the question is -- and i think there are going to be a lot of democratic candidates, like i said earlier, who i think will reach out to different aspects of the democratic party and you will be able to decide who is going to do the best job of appealing, i hope, to all of us and that it's not just a faction of the party. >> again, our question which party has changed the most since 1968. you can follow u us @c-spanhistory. let me go back to april 1968. vice president hubert humphrey accepting his party's nomination. >> but take heart, my fellow americans. this is not the first time that our nation has faced a challenge to its life and its purpose, and each time that we've had to face these challenges we have emerged with new greatness and with new strength. we must make this moment of
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crisis, we must make it a moment of creation. 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.
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and it is the special genius of the democratic party that it welcomes change, not as an entry, but as an ally. not as a force to be suppressed, but as an instrument of progress to be encouraged. >> 1968, hubert humphrey, the democratic nominee. michael cohen. >> so just to that last caller, i mean, one of the ironies, he mentioned kennedy and the middle class, is that ke one who did b against middle class voters was mccarty. there's something about the humphrey speech is interesting, you know, he almost won the nomination -- almost won the presidency and did so in part because labor rallied around him. he had long standing support
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among unions and going back to the '40s. they rallied behind him, they also rallied against george wallace who they saw as someone who was against the interest of labor. in a sense that was the last -- i mean, really not the last one, but certainly maybe the best time i can think of labor really almost -- lk bringing the democratic nominee over the finish line. from that point on democrats had a fractured relationship with the labor movement. in '72 like i mentioned before a lot of unions supported nixon against mcgovern and a big part of the reason frankly was race. this is something we have talked a lot about today, but the racial issues that emerged out of the late '60s really ended up doing a lot of damage to democrats and cut their support against working class supporters. >> let's go to lou in greenlawn, new york. >> caller: good morning, steve. thank you. mrs. townsend, thank you so much
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for being on this show this morning. we are all very grateful for your father's dedication to america. he was such a good man. >> thank you. >> caller: you know, i was 12 years old and i was in social studies and we were following the primaries with mr. gaetz, my teacher, and i woke up the next morning and i asked my parents about the primary, who had won, and they had told me about your father and we are all still very upset. we miss your father very much. but i want to tell you that we all need to come together as a country to face our problems. we can't be divided. it's so important for all the churches, all the faiths to come together and find common ground. >> lou, thank you for the call. kathleen kennedy townsend, your
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reaction. >> i think that's true and i think that part of that is from both sides of the aisle to respect the other side, to understand that even if we disagree on policies, both sides love america and each side -- you know, each person has a sense of dignity within themselves. i think that really when my father talked about how we need love and compassion towards those in our country, it was really a wonderful thing to say because i think what he was able to understand is that even if he disagrees with somebody, he can respect where they came from and he can respect the dignity that they have as a human being. he -- at one point he said, you know, we are all on this earth for a short period of time and we all have a hope that our children will do better and have an opportunity. that's what we share.
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let's figure out a way that we cannot demonize the other side rather than work with them. i think would be much better politics. unfortunately, as you know, that's not how people raise money, that's not how people get viewership on cable tv, but it is a way to build a stronger country and i thank you for your comments. >> michael cohen, let's look at the electoral vote totals from 1968, richard nixon getting 301 electoral votes compared to 191 for then vice president hubert humphrey. governor george wallace obtaining 46. the popular vote was closer. why did richard nixon win? >> why did nixon win? that's a good question. i would say a couple factors. i think primarily the sense of dysfunction in the country, i think a desire for americans to -- this is to quote a grades used in the 1920 election return to normalcy. '68 is very -- it's hard to sort of understand it now, but how --
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how just dysfunctional the country was and how divided it was, the sense the country was coming apart at the seams. you not only had the riots after the king assassination, both assassinations, you had the violence in chicago, but you had half a million troops fighting a war in vietnam that a good portion of the country opposed. so i think that that was a big factor for nixon. i think also for -- another important factor was humphrey's inability to distance himself from johnson. if he had done so he might have actually pulled the race out. you just read the electoral numbers, but i have the numbers in my book, but a couple tens of thousand votes in different states switched sides and humphrey wins. i think another week and humphrey probably pulls the election out. it was that close. i think, you know, one thing i remember about nixon is that he started the race with about 43% of the vote in the following j polling, that's what he ended up with. he didn't bring more people behind him. nixon was not a popular figure.
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someone asked earlier how bobby kennedy felt about nixon. i will tell you my research in the book the one thing that was consistent about every political figure i looked at, republicans, democrats, is none of them liked richard nixon. they all didn't trust him, didn't like him, didn't respect him. i think that was a view held by a lot of americans and i think, you know, it speaks to how weak a candidate he was that in a year in which republicans should have, i think, won by a larger margin, he barely defeated humphrey. of course there is also the wallace factor which i think certainly hurt nixon's totals to some extent, it probably would have been a larger margin. >> kathleen kennedy townsend, final question. 50 years later what's the legacy of 1968 for liberal causes and for the democratic party? >> i hope that the top legacy is that we should participate, we should get involved and we should have our voice heard.
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and that the voice of the young have a lot to teach us. as my father said, they have the least ties to the past and the greatest stake in the future. i think that the young made enormous difference in 1968 and i think the young can make a lot of difference today. >> yeah, i think i tend to agree with that. i think one of the lessons in '68 was that, you know, you saw participation by not just young people, but all kinds of people who opposed the war in vietnam and who wanted to see political change, rallying behind two candidates and that i think led to an important political shift in the country and i think one of the take a ways for liberals in '68 is that the engagement can make a difference and i think we could go 50th anniversary of lyndon johnson dropping out of the presidential campaign and a lot of that was because of the anti-war activists and the liberals who came out and opposed his renomination.
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so i think kathleen kennedy townsend is right, a lot is about participation, absolutely. >> the book is called "american maelstrom: the 1968 election and the politics of division." our guest is michael cohen here in washington and joining us from we palm beach, florida, is kathleen kennedy townsend, the eldest daughter of senator robert f. kennedy. to both of you, thank you very much for being with us here on c-span and c-span 3's american history tv. we appreciate it. american history tv will continue in a moment. we are showing c-span's series "1968: america in turmoil" this month while congress is on its august recess. usually american history tv is only on the weekends, saturdays at 8:00 a.m. eastern through monday at 8:00 here on c-span 3. coming up, a discussion of political news coverage 50 years ago and how the three tv networks and print newspapers covered the chicago democratic convention. then, trail blazing women lawyers from the 20th century based on oral history interviews
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with 100 senior female lawyers across the united states. and later, another look at liberal politics 50 years ago when the democratic party was very different hand it is today. here are some of the programs you will see this weekend on american history tv. here on c-span 3. saturday night at 10:00 and sunday afternoon at 4:00 eastern a world war ii film directed by frank capra on the orders of general george marshall to explain the cause of the global war to u.s. troops. it's part of our real america series. then on oral histories sunday morning at 10:00 eastern a continuation of our interviews with former congress women. the first republican female representative from north carolina, sue myrick. then sunday rosemarie zagari
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looks at women in america's founding era and their political value to patriot leaders speaking support to fight the evolution. a world that gave women the bases for demanding more rights in the future. that's this weekend on american history tv. we don't live in the same parts of the country, we don't have the same vocation, we don't have the same particularly outlook, but where we are all the same is men of color and women of color, is the way that we rye to instill a sense of fear. you can call it respect, but a sense of fear at the sobering consequences of what could happen if you an interaction with the police go wrong. >> sunday nights on after words. d.l. hugly shares his thoughts on race in america with his book how not to get shot and other advice by white people. >> how about having a police department that is respectful of the public they work for. how about having a police department that is held to a i here why standard than the
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children are supposed to be respectful. there is a certain point when children just don't listen. just don't listen. should they die for that? that's what they are called teenagers for. should we accept as a society is that really the best we can do to tell our children to be more responsible than the adults trained to serve their community. >> watch after words, sunday night at 9:00 p.m. eastern on c-span 2's book tv. >> this summer marks the 50th anniversary of the chicago democratic convention. next on american history tv, a panel discussion on how the media covered the chaotic 1968 presidential nominating convention, especially the street rioting, and chicago police response. northwestern university's ma dchd -- medill school of journalism hostd this event.
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>> professor donna leff is a reporter for chicago today, chicago tribune and the ypsilanti press. she teaches courses in the analysis of urban issues, culture and business of journalism and media law and ethics. her research involves the role of minorities and race in media coverage and professional. she is involved in studies involving the impact of investigative reporting on social issues. donna, the floor is years. >> thanks, abe. so to set the stage for tonight's discussion i'd like to just frame the issues briefly before i turn to our panel. we're charged with looking at the way the media covered the democratic national convention in august of 1968 and how the participants clashed both in perspectives and kind of literally physically. my memories of these nights depend on television and newspaper coverage. this was a time


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