tv 1968 - America in Turmoil 2018 Presidential Campaign CSPAN December 31, 2018 12:05pm-1:35pm EST
soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy will be vietnam. >> david maraniss, associate editor and the author of nearly a dozen books including "they marched into sunlight," and marine veteran, former navy secretary and former u.s. senator james webb, who is author of ten books, including his memoir "i heard my country calling." thank you both, gentlemen, for being with us. >> thank you. >> thank you. next, from our series, 1968 america in turmoil. it had a cast of characters including lbj, eugene mccarthy, robert f. kennedy, ronald reagan, george romney, nelson rockefeller and third party candidate george wallace. our guests are pat buchanan who worked on richard nixon's presidential campaign in 1968. and barbara perry, presidential studies director at the university of virginia's miller center. first, a look at lyndon b.
johnson's televised oval office address on march 31st, 1968 when he surprised the nation with his announcement that he would not run for reelection. . the stage was set. president johnson put the finishing touches on his address to the nation. finally with the reassuring presence of his family seated nearby, the president was ready to deliver one of the most important speeches of his entire life. a speech that would alter the course of world history. >> good evening, my fellow americans. tonight i want to speak to you of peace in vietnam and southeast asia. no other question so preoccupies
our people. no other dream so absorbs the 250 million human beings who live in that part of the world. no other goal motivates american policy in southeast asia. >> first, addressing himself to the continuing problem of vietnam, the president outlined plans for a unilateral american de-escalation of that conflict. >> tonight i have ordered our aircraft and our naval vessels to make no attacks on north vietnam. except in the area north of the demilitarized zone where the continuing enemy buildup directly threatens allied forward positions and where the movement of their troops and supplies are clearly related to that threat. the area in which we're stopping our attacks includes almost 90%
of north vietnam's population. and most of its territory. thus, there will be no attacks around the principal populated areas or in the food-producing areas of north vietnam. even this very limited bombing of the north could come to an early end if our restraint is matched by restraint in hanoi. >> the president issued an appeal for unity among the american people and went on to speak in moving words of the future he foresees america obtaining. but it was in the final moments of his speech that he voiced the si syllables that stunned the nation and reverberated around the world. to a conscious millions, president johnson announced a decision that had been many months in the making but only
resolved within himself in the final hours of march. >> with american sons in the fields far away, with america's future under challenge right here at home, with our hopes and the world's hopes for peace in the balance every day, i do not believe that i should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal or partisan causes or any duties other than the awesome duties of this office, the presidency of your country. accordingly, i shall not seek, and i will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president.
>> that courtesy of the white house naval photographic unit, as we look back 50 years ago here on c-span and c-span3's american history tv, 1968 america in turmoil. we want to begin with the announcement by senator eugene mccarthy in november of 1967 to seek the democratic nomination, the tet offensive began a january 30 of 1968. richard nixon formally enters the presidential race on february 1st, and george enters on february 8th. then robert kennedy entering the democratic race announcing here in washington in the senate office building. two weeks later, president lyndon johnson stunning the nation announcing he will not seek reelection. then on april 4th, dr. martin luther king assassinated in memphis, tennessee.
hubert humphrey, the vice president entering the race in 1968. then senator kennedy winning the california primary shot at midnight on the day after the victory and dies on june 6, 1968. richard nixon accepting the republican nomination in august of that year. later in august hubert humphrey accepting the democratic nomination. amidst the riots, president nixon was elected in 1968. we want to welcome barbara perry from the miller center. thank you for joining us. and pat buchanan, for purposes of this discussion, was a military aide. pat, let me ask you about the resignation of lyndon johnson. where were you? >> i was at nixon's apartment. we were having a debate about nixon's speech he was going to give that afternoon. we were having an argument.
nixon was moving toward a more dovish position on the war, or about to, when we got word from cbs that lyndon johnson had been asked for time sunday night. so nixon was going to wisconsin the next day, and he told me, pat, i want you to be out at la guardia, the private terminal. when i come back from wisconsin, he was making an appearance out there for the primary -- to brief me what johnson said before the press gets to me. so i'm sitting in a limousine on the tarmac at la guardia, had nixon's african-american driver there. he starts yelling, i knew it was going to happen, i knew it was going to happen when lbj announced i'm not going to run again. i got out of the limo and i ran down toward the jet nixon had come in on, and the press was walking over to the jet. and i got on the plane and i told nixon, i said, johnson is out, he's not going to run again. nixon stepped out to the top of the steps on the plane and said, i guess it's the year of the
dropout. george romney had dropped out of new hampshire on him, nelson rockefeller had decided not to run yiearlier in march. we drove in to nixon's apartment and we talked going in, and i remember telling him, i thought hubert humphrey would be a tougher nominee and i thought humphrey would get the nomination. >> he did not expect to challenge senator robert kennedy? >> he didn't think kennedy was going to win the nomination. i didn't, either. >> barbara perry, let's go back to the announcement of eugene mccarthy to enter the democratic race. who was he and why was his voice so important in the '68 campaign? >> gene mccarthy was a senator in the u.s. he was very proffesorial in his demeanor, very cool, some might say aloof. he was the anti-war candidate,
and immediately got a coterie of students to support him, some of them who might have been in the hippie realm shaved their beards and cut their hair and called themselves clean for gene. he was the young people's candidate, the intellectual candidate, the upper middle class candidate for the democrats. certainly if you put the personality of gene mccarthy next to lyndon johnson and they thought they would be running to get the nomination against the incumbent president, you couldn't have found two more different personalities. but he was definitely the peace candidate, the anti-war candidate going into new hampshire and comes within 70 points of the incumbent which is part of the reason johnson drops out. >> i can't believe that it was political malpractice. johnson's name was not on the ballot. he won the race with 49% as a write-in. later on it was discovered that the hard line new
hampshire-ites, half of those who voted for gene mccarthy, thought he had not been tough enough on the war. i will say when they got to wisconsin, mccarthy just wiped up the floor with johnson there. i think johnson had polls and they knew it was coming. >> they also thought johnson was running at a 35% approval rating at that point. after that he's going to have to boost up the troop numbers in vietnam, and it was just not looking good. plus johnson would suffer another heart attack in another term, so he was really concerned. >> nixon announced, you mentioned, on february 1st. we flew up secretly on the 31st. richard registered under the name benjamin chapman. we took him into a hotel. he announced february 1st. february 2nd, it's a single column story in the "new york times," but the big picture in the "new york times" of the tet offensive. it's about the saigon police
chief. he's got a small revolver against the head of the vietcong where he fired and killed him. eddie abbott won a pulitzer for that photograph, but that really dramatized the vietnam war. >> galvanizing moments. >> it certainly was, yeah. >> this series available on our website. pat buchanan, let's talk about richard nixon. he lost the presidency in 1960. he loses the bid for governor in 1962. the headline is about richard nixon. he moved back to new york in the 1960s. why did he run in 1968 and what was the state of the republican party that year? >> in 1964, the gold water course was knocked out and nixon was the lead surrogate for gold water. he was a two-time loser and was considered a political loser and so he moves to new york, what he did is -- i went to work for him 1965 and '66. january.
i told him, i want to get aboard early if you are going to run for president. he said, i will hire you for one year. if we don't do well, nomination won't be worth anything. so we went around five weeks in 1966. he paid for it himself and got his own plane. we went to, i think, 35 states. one of the great comebacks that sprung back. nixon helped picked up 47 seats in the house. three in the senate, six governorship, 11 legislatures. greatest victory since 1946. and nixon is -- i remember tom evans came up to me and said i don't think you're going back to saint louis. i said, i don't think so. what nixon did then, he declared a six-month moratorium on politics. he said, i've been in the
limelight and got into a head-up battle with johnson at the end of '66 and johnson attacked him in the white house. nixon pulled himself completely out and one of the reasons, i said, sir, romney was running first in the polls and ahead of johnson and nixon. so i said is it wise to give him that space and time while you are going nowhere? he said i think i need to get out of the public arena and let him chew on him for a little while, which meant the press. and the press went after romney because he was the only one out there. and by mid-1967, i think it was around september 1, romney made the famous statement, when i was over in vietnam i was brainwashed by the diplomats and military. i remember eugene mccarthy said, in his case, you wouldn't need a complete brainwashing, a light rinse would have done the job.
>> along those lines, i want to take you back to that time period and a very young pat buchanan on the campaign trail with richard nixon. watch this. >> it seems to be a magnificent turnout. estimated somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 or 700 go by already. i would estimate more than 3,000 before the afternoon is over. >> are these people are all republicans or a mixture? >> i couldn't say looking at them. you can't tell a republican from a democrat out here. i would assume it's a good cross-section of people, frankly. >> i just wondered how many of these people you think are going to be sympathetic to nixon. >> well, we don't know how many are coming in, but we hope they will be going out.
>> there you are. there's three. how is that? >> thank you. >> all right. >> how are you doing? -- >> oh. tell me is this fellow a good one here? >> i really think so. >> he is a good guy. >> good, good. as a matter of fact that is what we hear. we got a lot of people saying he is too young to be chairman. and i said well, we need a fellow -- >> i agree 100%, yes sir. >> are you on his payroll? >> no. i'm retired. >> right. >> are you in the service? >> the -- >> the big one? right? what division were you in? >> heavy artillery. >> the seven, the 75s or did you have another kind? >> the guns. >> the artilleries.
>> right. >> we trained on the naval guns. well, do you know it is hard to realize, we've had so many wars since then. we thought that was the last one and then we had world war ii, and then korea and now vietnam. let's get rid of them. >> let's do something. >> let's do something. nice to meet you. >> from february 1968 campaigning in new hampshire, pat buchanan, you sound the same. >> thank you. we had a great thing put together by the late nick ruey, we had a great advancement. 3,000 people and president mrs. nixon went through receiving line. the fellow that was the chairman of the campaign in new hampshire
was dave sterling. very young guy. we picked him because out of all of the princes in new hampshire, we didn't want to antagonize any of them. we had a young state legislator. he had a bad automobile accident and he did a great job up there. our campaign in '68 with nixon, we studied teddy white's book how nixon overdid it, ran himself into the ground, so did jack kennedy. we would bring him into new hampshire for two days or maybe three days and then fly them down to key biscayne where we could relax. and take it easy and go into wisconsin. so you paced him well and we knew it was a marathon. and i can still remember it, it was just tremendously advanced. look how many came out voluntarily, et cetera. we had a terrific crowd. 3,000 people and that was the kind of event nixon wanted to do.
it was just excellent. >> with a world war i veteran, clearly, that was the driving niche of 1968. can you explain what was going on here in this country and how americans were viewing the war and why they were turning against president johnson? >> we mentioned the tet offensive, january 1968. i'm glad there are no videos of me. i will say that i was a 12-year-old in the sixth grade. my brother was ten years older than i and graduating from college, small catholic college in louisville where we grew up that spring, and he was told by his draft board, you'll graduate may 15th and drafted by june 1st. and my dad was a world war ii vet and my brother was patriotic, there was no way to deny going to the draft. he served for four years in the air force. that was the talk around our dinner table. he was in college in his hometown and here i was a 12-year-old soaking this up.
what was happening in america was that boys like my brother, girlfriends and boyfriends knew they were going. fathers were going. the draft was up and going and ending up with over a half million people serving the military in vietnam and 1,000 were dying every week. so the campuses were in an uproar. the streets were in uproar. and we didn't talk about race but we have to add that in as well. the country was coming apart in this issue and the students over the draft and the casualty figures coming out of vietnam. >> 1968 america in turmoil, and joining us, barbara perry, the president at the miller center and pat buchanan. you wanted to respond. >> i had a brother who went over
to vietnam with the 101st airborne. and he went over and broke his foot in the first jump but went over in january just in time for the tet offensive and he was over there. and even before that, when i was in saint louis as a journalist in 1965. at washington university out there, the harbor of the middle west. i was a teacher speaking on behalf in favor of johnson and kennedy's policies out there. kennedy's policy. the demonstration, it wasn't violent by then. but hostility on the elite campuses. i remember sds marching and talking in front of the buildings to kids before they became violent. after dr. king was assassinated, riots in 100 cities. my hometown in d.c. was partly
burned down. 7th street, 14th street, marine armed troops in the city. the law and order and the war in vietnam became the issues. >> and that's my next question. to try to put it in perspective, you had president johnson who narrowly won the new hampshire primary on march the 12th, and then you had senator kennedy entering the race on march 16th. lbj drops out on march 31st and dr. king assassinated all within a four-week period. >> it is hard to comprehend. to be able to see what was is come -- compacted in a month's time. my dad, who is a lifelong democrat, said, i'm really fearful for country now. i'm fearful for what's happening in the streets and voted for nixon in 1968 because he thought he was the law and order man.
he was the man who would bring law and order back to our streets and bring our country together, interestingly enough. the other thing about vietnam, we talked about the tet offensive, the united states won the tet offense siff, bive of t and the vietcong and the south, and to see that movement into the south of the vietnamese regulars and the vietcong was so fearful for the american people, and to see that in their living rooms. we want to talk about the role of the media, because pat is telling us these great stories about how the nixon administration prior to going into office, how the nixon campaign knew how to use media by 1968. people were seeing this in their living rooms. >> in february, he went over to vietnam and came back and said we are mired in a stalemate and i think many in the america elite media had broken on the war, had really decided that it was an unwinnable war.
and they tended to move at that point, and by timt niche time n took over, they would move into the camp of the demonstrators. and we thought of them as lies of the demonstrators by 1969. but there is something else in march that you don't have in there. it was stunning for us. i was with dwight chapin. you had a picture of him in there, i believe it was march 21st, something like that, when necessarily on rockefeller announced for president. and nixon told us, he didn't like watching these on television himself, he said you guys watch, tell him what he said. i said, rockefeller isn't running, he sort of dropped out. and that's where nixon got his statement of the year of the dropout, it was rockefeller and johnson. and then we had a clear path to the nomination. and to your point, you have to
realize, the revolution in 1968 was largely contained in that gigantic fdr coalition inside of the democratic party. george wallace was a populist southerner tough on pro-segregation. he was ripping the south, the basis of the democratic party apart. kennedy and johnson were the center of the party. bobby kennedy had moved dramatically to the left and with gene mccarthy, george mcgovern, that wing of the party, and all three were going to be represented in chicago. >> very quickly, wasn't governor sp spiro agnew a rockefeller supporter -- >> he brought in reporters and said he was for rockefeller and got the governors for rockefeller and the citizens for rockefeller. headed it up and announced it for three weeks and calls in reporters when rockefeller is going to announce and have a major role in it. when rockefeller never called and went out and said i'm not
running, agnew was left with egg all over his face. as someone wrote, we caught him on the first hop. nixon was right on the phone. come on up, governor, and talk to us. and he came up. you will get to it, i'm sure. he was regarded and ran against mahoney in '66. your home is your castle. he was basically a democrat who opposed open housing. agnew supported it, so agnew was seen as something of a liberal governor except on the riots where he was hard-lined, and that's one of the reasons he wound up on the ticket. >> rockefeller thought he had a chance at the convention, and he went to governors and said, support me, and agnew said, i'm not doing this again. fool me once, shame on me. >> he got governor shaffer of pennsylvania and there was a
beer commercial in those days that that shaffer is the one beer to have if you're having only one. >> let's go to leo in illinois. at the table, barbara perry and pat buchanan. >> good morning. thank you for taking this call. i want to thank you for the way you give some american history to us. i was a student in high school at the time, and when we understand the importance of this country having been created, and it feeills not jus with pride but compassion and understanding and great thanksgiving to our mighty god that america stands. and thank you, miss. i appreciate everything. thank you. bless you all. >> thank you. a comment, not a question.
>> i will comment to that optimistic view of 1968 and my colleague shares the same and he wrote a book called" resilient america" in 1968. rather than focusing on the fact that we were coming apart, and pat already explained what was happening in the democratic party, the democratic party was coming apart. the coalition was coming apart. riots on the streets and in the campuses. and yet there is a resilience in america, thank goodness and in our constitution and government that we were able to survive and move forward. >> can i bring something else to the table, in an interview with james jones as you know as a long time aide to lbj, he traveled with president johnson on the afternoon of march 31 and went to vice president humphrey's apartment and told him to read the speech. said he was not going to run for re-election, humphrey was shaken and said that the president said if you are going to run, you need to start now and humphrey said, i lost to one kennedy and i'm going to lose to another.
i mention that because vice president humphrey did not announce until april 27, almost a month after lbj announced he would not seek another term. >> well, it could have been -- we felt, for example, rockefeller. he didn't get in because nixon would have crushed him in all of the primaries. humphrey might have delayed till then. bobby kennedy was not jack kennedy. didn't have the charm or charisma. he moved to the left and he was antiwar and very sharp edged. i felt that even after california when bobby kennedy won, when we got to chicago that humphrey would take it. he had the machine put together and the president behind him and these folks. i thought he would win it and i didn't know he was that apprehensive that he couldn't beat him.
>> barbara perry, it is a what if. >> it is. i jotted down last night when bobby kennedy died, hubert humphrey amassed over 500 delegates. gene mccarthy, 258 and what was left with the new deal coalition, humphrey had the people behind him. labor and the rank and file of the party. so it is unlikely that even if robert kennedy had lived, he would have beaten gene mccarthy at the convention. also remember how devastated humphrey was that johnson wasn't going to run. i understand that meeting at his apartment after johnson announced or actually johnson went before he announced and went to that apartment to tell him, he was in tears about it. he also had that ambivalence that he wasn't going to bash the president he was serving. of course, in the end that's in
part what caused humphrey to lose the race. >> just down the street is where senator robert f. kennedy made his announcement on march the 16th, 1968. >> senator, thank you for this opportunity. he had the courage to go to new hampshire >> i don't believe that i could -- >> i can't hear the question. >> i have to repeat that? >> there is a lot of nasty things involved. the question was whether the charge has been raised about the question of whether this is opportunistic of my coming into the contest at this time after senator mccarthy had gone into the new hampshire primary.
as i have said, i spoke on these issues and questions for a number of years and how i feel about them. i felt and i think it was generally accepted that if i had gone to the primary in new hampshire, and if i won the primary new hampshire or if i had done well in the primary new hampshire, it would have been felt at that time that it was a personal struggle. it would have been written in the press. every time i spoke about the vietnam or spoken on what i think needs to be done as far as the cities are concerned. it's put in the context of a personal struggle between myself and president johnson. therefore, we would get away from what the issues are which divide this country. i think that the new hampshire primary established that the division that exists in this country and division that exists in the democratic party are there. i haven't brought that about. what brought that about is what president johnson, the policies that are being followed by president johnson.
as far as what is happening at the moment, i can't believe that anybody thinks that this is a pleasant struggle or i'm asking for a free ride. i've got five months ahead of me as far as the convention is concerned. i'm going to go into primary and present my case to the american people. i'm going to go across this country. >> pat buchanan, four days after the new hampshire primary and two weeks before lbj dropped out. >> the allegation of opportunism was in the air on robert kennedy. i remember a great writer of the "new york post" admired bobby kennedy saying he is coming down from the hills to shoot the wounded and what he's doing proves that st. patrick can't drive all of the snakes out of ireland. it was rough with bobby kennedy. he was ruthless on lbj in the
interim in between the two weeks that he resigned. accusing johnson of appealing to the darker impulses of the american spirit. i got a memo that i sent to nixon. it is astounding how ruthless he is on the president. we assume the president is going to stay in. mr. nixon said keep gathering that, we have better quotes than that. he believed more than i did that we might wind up with robert kennedy as the candidate and you would have another kennedy run. but i always thought humphrey was the candidate that had great depth on the left wing of the democratic party from that '48 convention. he was mr. civil rights. he had put civil rights on the floor of the senate and ran it through lbj. he had labor and could bring together the antiwar groups, which he eventually did, as well as the senator of the democratic party. the deep south was gone. >> robert from maryland, go ahead.
>> caller: good morning, mr. buchanan and the lady, as well as you, mr. scully. i'm a vietnam veteran and i don't think mr. nixon gets the credit he deserves. even though i voted democrat, i think nixon was a very good president. what overshadowed his goodness as a president was the vietnam war, watergate and his personality complexes. but some of the decisions he made with civil rights and other issues and epa, nixon was a very good president. just those three things over shadow his presidency. >> thank you for the call. barbara perry. >> we now look back at nixon and i think nixon thought of himself in many ways as sort of a moderate republican, and he was viewed in those days in 1968 as a moderate republican. he could be viewed in the center between someone like a reagan. we haven't talked about his
entrance into the mix, but i'm sure we will. and then rockefeller on the left side of the party. so when we look back at richard nixon's almost one and a half terms in office, we can see a number of things that he did that people now on the liberal side say, good for him. >> i would call nixon a progressive republican. he inherited the vietnam war after five years, and as you say, there were 31,000 dead when nixon came into office. but the gentleman said he was for nixon although he didn't vote for him. the american people agreed with the gentleman. he won 49 states in 1972, over 61% of the vote, i believe. against senator mcgovern who was an antiwar candidate. so his policy of getting out of vietnam and giving the vietnamese a fighting chance to survive as a free and independent country.
by and large, even though it was protested by hundreds of thousands in the streets, it was a policy that was supported by the american people and obviously rewarded in 1972 with that landslide. >> you mentioned ronald reagan, a first-term governor elected in 1966, traveling to iowa in the fall of 1967. here is what he said back then. >> the one way to make sure that crime doesn't pay, let government run it. [ laughter ] >> i remember way back in 1964, when they said all the way with lbj, and now we know what he meant. [ laughter ] [ applause ] >> he has his troubles. there's bobby kennedy. [ laughter ] >> bobby has him so nervous about the upcoming convention,
he's thinking about putting the country in his wife's name. [ laughter ] [ applause ] >> but bobby was trying to be helpful. he wanted a johnson/humphrey ticket but didn't say where to. every time he offers to help, a voice from the white house says please, bobby, we would rather lose it ourselves. he is a rare person who says the right thing at the right time to the wrong person. [ laughter ] >> now, if it seems that i'm picking unduly on the opposition, please note that i'm picking on the leadership of the democratic party. because i'm sure that there are millions of fine patriotic members of that party who are deeply disturbed with what has taken place in the nation's capitol as we move from 1960 in the new frontier to the great society. they know that the great society is not the wave of the future. it's the end of an era. a dismal rehash of the methods and language and the philosophy of the past.
>> from october 1967, vintage ronald reagan. >> i'm honored to work for them many years later, but that was the candidate i was most afraid of in the republican primaries. it wasn't nelson rockefeller. it was the possibility that ronald reagan would get into the race, and given that personality, his conservative views and the likeability of him that he could really stampede the old goldwater delegates and really pull the nomination away from richard nixon. i never believed that rockefeller could get it after kwha -- what he did to barry goldwater in 1964. republicans would have walked out if rockefeller was nominated. >> explain the reagan candidacy. was he a serious contender for the white house? >> sure. what is fascinating about him
from that clip particularly, as pat said, the facility he had with the audience and as a speaker. that goes back to his days as an. >> announcer: -- announcer for baseball. getting the game over the wire and explaining it as if he was at the game. he had a facility of telling jokes and in the to mention he was a hollywood actor. he made this interesting journey and represented the country. he made a journey from the new deal roosevelt democrat, the head of the screen actors guild and becoming more conservative as he worked for ge and that's where he picked up the facility for the banquet speech and the political speech in the ten clib. it is clear in california that he was the haeir to goldwater.
and the great speech reagan gave in 1964, supporting goldwater. so he ends up in '68 as a right-wing challenge to richard nixon. >> i believe, and you know, because of the letters of nixon and reagan which i've got copies of, that there was a deal cut at bohemian grove in 1967 where nixon told reagan, give me the first shot at romney and the liberal establishment in new hampshire, and if by wisconsin, i haven't succeeded really well, then you come in. because there's a lot of exchange. rockefeller tried to have a meeting with reagan and came up to the bedroom where he was staying at a hotel, knocked on the door and came in. reagan was writing calling nixon saying we didn't put this together. that was my belief.
he gave nixon the first shot and there was reagan people. he got 22% i think in oregon and we got 70%, and rockefeller got 5% of the vote out there in the primary in oregon 28th of may. >> the hope was that they can draw enough delegate votes away that if nixon didn't win on the first ballot in miami beach -- >> if they started going to reagan, the rockefeller people would come to nixon. they started going to rockefeller. reagan people would have come to nixon, so we were a good second ballot as well. >> did richard nixon consider ronald reagan as the running mate even though they were both from california? >> we had staff yup there in ne york. and for a while in those days, you couldn't close a six-point gap. at some point he was behind in
the polls by six points and there was a number of us that sent a memo saying you have to put reagan on the ticket. and there was a point over the vice president and talk of lindsey even if he was from the same state. nixon was going to have to roll the dice and make a dramatic choice. if he were going to do it, we thought it should be reagan. once the polls went out with nixon ahead, then you go with a moderate safe choice, like spiro agnew, a good centrist. >> 1968, year in turmoil and barbara perry and pat buchanan, columnist and author and formally with cnn. presidential candidate himself and a nixon aide in 1966, '67 and '68. tony joining us from prairieville, louisiana, on our line for republicans. thank you for waiting. >> caller: i have a comment and a question directed to pat buchanan.
i have long held a belief that had nixon won in 1960, he would have been a better president than he wound up being in 1968. had he won in 1960, what does pat buchanan think nixon would have done during his presidency following his election in 1960, thank you. >> thank you, tony. another what if. >> it is hard to know. jack kennedy's great moment was the cuban missile crisis. i don't know how nixon would have handled that. i don't think he would have launched the bay of pigs and if he had, he would have made sure it worked. you can't know these things. it would not be a great society if he was a two-term president. in that sense -- although, as you mentioned, a lot of what nixon did was very progressive, and when he got in in his m
mid-50s, he did not appeal the great society at all. >> and let's add to the what if, what if he had met with khrushchev in 1961. it would have perhaps been another bay of pigs that nixon knew about but couldn't go public with in the 1960 campaign. wouldn't it have been interesting to see nixon and him in vietnam. historians thought that because kennedy didn't have a good outing, that help precipitated the cuban missile crisis. >> then came the berlin wall in august and the missile crisis. having met nixon in 1959, he didn't like nixon at all. it wasn't gary powers but two other pilots went over russian territory and khrushchev told
folks that he didn't release them in 1960 to help kennedy defeat nixon. he didn't want to do something that nixon can claim credit for. i think you are right. i think kennedy misjudged -- i mean -- misjudged him. when he beat him in the heating kennedy told james reston, he beat the hell out of me, in that meeting with khrushchev. khrushchev took the measure of him as weak and made a grave mistake. >> what was richard nixon's reaction on the night that robert f. kennedy won california and was assassinated? >> it was 3:00 a.m. in the east, i got a call from headquarters, jeff bell, who just died, a young aide to nixon, ran for senate, he was in his mid-20s. he called me at my apartment, i was asleep, he woke me up and said, bobby kennedy's been shot. i called nixon, he said i'm already up, trudy and david had been watching the race, they had woken him up. it was amazing, one week before that, i was in oregon when nixon
won, may 28th, he swept it, as i mentioned, 70%. he went down to dinner with pat nixon. i went out to the front door with shelley, my girlfriend at the time, because bobby kennedy was coming up from california to concede the race. we saw bobby get out of the car with teddy white, he had the dog with him. i went down to the room to watch him concede that. and i remember telling folks there that that was a bobby kennedy i hadn't seen. he was at his most gracious. the concession speech to gene mccarthy was just very -- it was everything you would expect. and he said, now let's get on to california. >> think how hard that was for him to give that speech, the first kennedy ever to lose an election. >> i've read later he was very
down about it, he said maybe i just can't win these, and i can't win the presidency. eugene mccarthy, there was no better state for gene than oregon. >> what was going through the country after the assassination of senator kennedy? >> horrible shock, as you can imagine. and just imagine this, just two months after martin luther king's assassination. here our political leaders, our social activists, are being gunned down. and bobby kennedy, ironically, had been the person to rise up on that april 4th night, 1968, indianapolis, going to speak to an african-american segment of indianapolis, he's off-the-cuff, he has no script, he says our thoughts and prayers are with the king family. indianapolis is the only major city that doesn't go up in flames that night. his mother said, if this had been a work of fiction, that this family would lose two of its sons running in politics, running for a presidency and in the presidency, she said i
wouldn't have believed it, it was incomprehensible, that level of violence. >> dave from northport, new york, thank you for waiting. go ahead, please. >> hello. i just want to say thank you to mr. buchanan for all the hard work and everything he's committed his life to. i used to enjoy watching him on mclaughlin, that was a great show.
i would like to ask two quick questions. maybe more towards current events. i was curious, when you look at the vietnam war, and some of the bicker mistakes that we made there, are we making -- this is to pat, sorry -- are we making some of those same mistakes in afghanistan, we've been there for 17 years. also, pat, i'm curious about what you think about the situation with [ inaudible ]. >> dave, you're breaking up. but we get the essence of the question, thank you. >> i think we already made the mistake in the middle east, frankly, that we made in vietnam, was we went in without thinking through what the end of this intervention would be. the idea that we could turn afghanistan into a sort of a quasi western country, or that once you overthrew the regime in iraq, i agree with the late bill
odom, i'm sure you've had him on c-span, the general, who said the movement into the middle east militarily is the worst diplomatic blunder in american political history. >> because of the vietnam war, barbara perry, when did president johnson begin to think he would not serve another full term? >> i think it's after the tet offensive that he realizes, even though, as i say, our forces, the u.s. military forces, won that battle, i'll use a crudity that is easy to find among johnson' comments, he said if we pull back and halt the bombing, and remember, that speech he gave withdrawing from the race was also to announce a halt to the bombing of the north, but he
said later on, he had to restart it in the summer, but he said, i pulled back in vietnam, he said, ho chi minh drives a truck up my ass. so he couldn't find the answer, because there was no answer. between that and what he's seeing on the campuses, the students circling the white house, chanting every day and every night, hey, hey, lbj, how many kids did you kill today, and the answer was a thousand americans were dying a week until the rice paddies of vietnam. so i think the combination of that, the combination -- i think he says genuinely in that speech, look, i don't want to be taking time out on the political stump when i have all these other problems for the country that i need to address. and again, the personal issue that johnson men in his family died young. he had already had two serious coronaries in the 1950s. and indeed he barely lived to just after what would have been his second term, his second full term. he died in january of 1973. so imagine what the stress of
being in that office for another four years would have done. he could well have died in office. >> george is next, joining from us titusville, florida, republican line. go ahead, please. >> good morning, thank you for c-span. i volunteered for the draft in '68. i know the focus of the show is on '68 and the turmoil that occurred there. my question is, 50 years from now, i think you could be doing another show honor 2018, 2019, perhaps the trump presidency, and the turmoil that this is creating. in '68 i think we had some sort of consciousness throughout the nation of the constitution, the united states of america, yeah, they were in the colleges, you had columbia and all of that, but there was more -- there was more intelligence about it.
and there was a lot of emotion. today, as i look at the march on washington, sorry to say this, but it's the march of the know-nothings. they have a lot of emotion, but they have very little intelligence. everything is phrases and -- so i would like pat to comment, i wasn't one of your pitch fork people. >> can't help that. >> he forgives you. >> george, thank you. we'll get a response. thanks for the call. >> thanks very much. i agree with the gentleman. i mentioned i was in the teach-ins at washington university in 1965. and when i went out there, the young people questioned me, they knew the history of vietnam, back with the french, before then, what they were doing, geneva. they were extremely intelligent. later on i went out and spoke at
kent state and they were just emotional. i agree with him about yesterday, maybe it's the film that was taken out, but the kids seem full of passion and emotion and caught up, and not a great deal of thought, frankly. and i can understand the passion in the immediate aftermath of that killing in broward county. but so much passion, as though we can wave a magic wand and put an end to these school killings. and we can't do it. the gentleman says -- i think the generation does, and you can never know exactly, but the generation i think of the 1960s, the early to mid-'60s, was intelligent in a lot of ways. even on the liberal side, it was mature, it had ideas. some of it, like the crowd at columbia, mark penn and his friends that helped us, i put out a statement that i think -- denouncing them for revolutionary takeover of our institutions and it got 95-5
pour in our polls. >> i think we should thank the caller for service and for volunteering for the draft. my brother is a vietnam vet, i'm very supportive of those veterans. but i'm always leery, especially as a teacher and long time professor of american government, it's a sign of aging, i think, to look back to a golden age or a sign to say, oh, this new generation doesn't know anything. i think what this new generation knows is they do have passion, of course, those, as you say, who went through that horror in florida several weeks ago. they also know social media. they know how to organize. so they know how to be civically engaged. i think we did have better civic education that would have taught the baby boomers. they were also directly impacted en masse and they needed to know what was happening, they needed to know their rights because they were subject to the draft or their friends or family were
subject to the draft. but i do have hopes for this generation. i'm glad they're taking part, i'm glad they're civically engaged. i would like a little bit more education. >> let me say, in '68, i don't think we can go back to '68, because what took place wasn't only this political revolution. nixon putting together this new majority, the beginnings of it, with the wallace vote, pulling off the catholics from humphrey. but socially, culturally, morally, racially and every other way, there was a huge cultural revolution going on in those years, which i think has ultimately prevailed in a way in the society and created divisions which exist and endure to this day. while today is much less -- it's not as violent at '68, which was horrendously violent in this country, i think those divisions have endured and gone through several generations. we've got a country, it's hard for me to see how it ever comes together again. the way those of us who grew up in the eisenhower and jfk era, i was a critic, editorial writer taking on jfk.
i read him then, i was a tough editorial writer, they were very mild. we disagreed about the area redevelopment act or something. >> what happened to senator eugene mccarthy after the assassination of robert kennedy? >> what happens to him, i list it out, where he stood on the delegate count. at the moment robert kennedy had won the california primary and sadly then was assassinated. he was running a distant third. so he became disaffected in the race. it became clear as they got close and her closer to chicago, that humphrey had the rank and file of the democrats. he had the party bosses. he had mayor daley on his side. and that gene mccarthy was not going to win the nomination. and in addition to that, we
mentioned george mcgovern. george mcgovern was drafted by pro-kennedy forces. even though robert kennedy was gone, there was another person in the race. he became rather embittered by what happened to him in the race and he was -- >> he didn't endorse humphrey until the end of the race. >> that's right, he waited until very late in the game. >> when i ran against president george h.w. bush in new hampshire, i ran into gene mccarthy. he said, don't worry, when you get up there, you don't have to win, you just have to beat the points spread. >> larry from houston, texas, on the democrats line. >> yeah. i'm also a veteran, and i think the thing that caused nixon to win is because he had a cause that all my friends and a couple of them died in vietnam, as a result of it. and what it was was that the draft just turned everybody away
from the thought that we were going to have anything other than a war for the rest of our lives. >> thank you, larry. >> you know, in the draft, when i went to work with nixon, i was -- i had come out, decided that you're going to have to do away with the draft, because the country was coming apart. and secondarily, because, because we were beginning to draft people who basically, in the barracks would have been seditious, they were so anti-war. they were so anti-military at the time, that in order to fight the war, future wars, you're probably going to have to end the draft. and i told -- and i -- and nixon, i've got a memo, nixon talked to eisenhower. so i wrote nixon a memo and i said, people are liable to say, we're just doing this in order to let folks that are against the war not have to serve. and that's a bad thing.
and nixon wrote on it, ike thinks so too. so ike did not want that draft ended. i'll tell you who also pushed for it into the draft, a libertarian who joined us in '67, martin anderson, who was a young nixon aid, one of the young men around nixon, as i was then, steve. >> john from austin, texas, go ahead, please. you're next. >> uh, yes. thank you for both of you, the panelists, for the discussion today. it's very good. i've got two quick questions. the first one is, how do you view the democratic party now versus 1968? it just seems to me that a lot of people who don't really love this country have taken over, and the leadership of the democratic party. my other question is a what if question. i usually stay away from what if questions, but with the two panelists today, i think it's appropriate to ask. and the what if question is, how do you think things would have worked out had reagan been
elected president in 1968 instead of 1980? >> john, thank you. let's take the democratic party. barbara perry? >> sure. to pat's point a few moments ago, i think we come out of 1968 so polarized, and to pat's point about now, i think that polarization is ossified within our system and within the parties. and so you don't see the big tent parties that we had had in this country, for so many years, because we only have two major parties. so they tended to be big tent parties, maybe not in their primaries, necessarily. but typically they would take in people from different parts of the political spectrum. and we see that polarization, i think, to this day, certainly in the democratic party and the republican party.
i don't accept that people in the democratic party, leaders or rank and file, are unpatriotic or un-american. i don't see that at all. they just have a different view of the america that they want to lead or that they support. >> and a follow-up on the state of the democratic party in 1968. how strongly was president johnson supporting hubert humphrey? was he focused on politicsed, or was his focus on vietnam? >> well, the problem for johnson was that even if he had supported him to the hilt, he couldn't go out and campaign for him, because, first of all, it was too dangerous. the secret service did not want him to go, for example, on college campuses. which was another reason why he thought, i can't run myself. so he was not able to go out on the stump and do much campaigning for him. i think you might say, maybe as much as eisenhower didn't go out full-throatedly for nixon in 1968. so johnson, i think, was supportive. but he also had that tension
with humphrey and humphrey had tension with him over the war. >> and pat buchanan, ronald reagan, 1968, a what if question. >> he would have gone for victory in vietnam. i think he would have ended the bombing of johnson. one thing he did do, i think it was on october 31st, declared a bombing halt in vietnam and humphrey had -- people forget, humphrey, at the beginning of october, nixon 43, humphrey 28, wallace, 21. by the time the race ended, it was 43-all. much of the wallace vote in the north moved to humphrey and some of the nixon vote, so he had a tremendous campaign there. and the bombing halt i think almost put humphrey over, but then the north vietnamese, president chu, declined to come to paris for the meeting. and that's the cause of a great controversy now. but with regard to reagan, reagan was young. that's a different reagan i saw in the white house. and i think reagan would have gone for victory in vietnam and
would have gone all-out bombing and used american power and there would have been no limits on going into laos or cambodia. >> late september, vice president humphrey travels to salt lake city to do what? >> he gives a speech in which he finally comes out against the johnson policy on the vietnam war. and he speaks up in favor of peace and going to peace talks and de-americanization of the war. and some people think if he had just done that earlier, because as pat said, he was coming on strong at the end in part, perhaps, because of johnson's decisions, baa you also made a reference to president tu of south vietnam. and there's a great book called chasing shadows about the back channeling that was being done between the nixon campaign and president tu about the peace talks. >> that's a matter of some controversy. >> we're going to debt to that. >> george bloomington, illinois, republican line. go ahead with your question,
george. >> thank you. good morning. i have a question of mr. buchanan and miss perry concerning president johnson's tardiness in supporting hubert humphrey in '68. until that very late date. and i'm wondering if, it's sort of a what if question, again, but what if the president had come out sooner for humphrey? miss perry alluded to the tension between humphrey and johnson over the war, and it was palpable. >> george, thank you. >> indeed, there will always be this historical what if. what if humphrey had -- and i think it was against his personality, he was such a
joyful, positive, ebullient character, and such a loyal character, that it was hard for him to turn against his president. but i think it is possibly the case if he had come out sooner and draw the people who were supportive of mccarthy, the anti-war activists, supportive of robert kennedy, the far-left fringe, he was not going to get. they were going to be against him, as indicated in chicago. but i think if he had come out earlier, against the johnson policy, maybe humphrey would have got what he needed in the popular vote. but as pat well knows, nixon so flooded him on the electoral college vote, that it's really hard to put together. >> this is the 1968 electoral map, and you can see a very different country back then, with the republicans winning states like california and winning the upper midwest. the democrats winning states like texas, and of course, the
midwest and new england. and then there's george wallace in the south. >> got five states. >> at one point, he had seven. he had both carolinas, i think. yeah, he took those states away. and one of the reason nixon picked agnew, and agnew had a hard position, tough, hard line on riots. he had been very tough down there in cambridge, when they burned that town down. and as a matter of fact, humphrey -- you mentioned humphrey. humphrey was gaining, and i was -- if you can believe it, we were campaigning on long island. i went to the president and said, the president-elect, mr. nixon, i said, you know, i'm not doing any good here. we've got the same old message. let me go out, and i can help agnew. i went out and spent a week on agnew's plane. we were down with spiro t. agnew to win that area. so i do think that hubert humphrey, if he had moved earlier, would have done better. and one reason is, his campaign from september to that salt lake
city speech was bedeviled everywhere with dump the hump and obscene comments and he finally got to the point himself, he was denouncing fascism out here. they won't let me speak. teddy kennedy, he was being denounce. but it turned for humphrey and he began really moving up the hill at a tremendous clip. and i remember going to nixon and saying, we have to attack humphrey to drive the wedge back through the party, because it's coming together. >> we didn't do a thing. >> very quickly, who was george wallace? >> oh, george wallace, what colorful character. pat and i were talking before the show today, and he said he used to go speak with him. so we want pat to way in, but he -- so we want pat to weigh in, but he was a populist, eventually a segregationist.
so he was not in his earlier life in alabama, but he was a world war ii veteran. we look back now and realize he may have suffered from some ptsd from his service in the war. he was a bantamweight, pugilistic kind of fighter. by the late '50s when he lost a race in 1958, i will not use the "n" word, but he said he would not be out "n'd" by someone else. so he came against the anti-civil rights view and brings that into the 1968 campaign, not to think that he was going to win. he knew he probably wouldn't carry any states outside of the south. as pat said, he carried five of them. but thought he could be the broker if there was not a electoral majority for one of the two major candidates. >> or he could put it in the house, right? here's the thing, wallace had come out in '64 and he had run in the democratic primaries and he had done very well in wisconsin and indiana, right here next door in maryland. wallace got a majority of the
white vote and the democratic primary in 1964 and lbj was president of the united states. and then he comes in '68 and announces his third party run. and what he did then, i mean, he was not only a segregation, though, it was strict segregation, he got that vote. but he was also a real populist. he was bashing the students and the demonstrators. and i know some four-letter words, too. s-o-a-p and w-o-r-k. but i got to know him. i went down after i left nixon. i got to know him, and i would go down to alabama and i would speak regularly at a chair at troy state. and i would get to the airport and a state trooper would be there, and i would be with my wife, and he would say, the governor would like to speak to you. and that was after he had been shot out in laurel in the '72 campaign. and i would go to his office and we would tell old stories of the
campaigns and how he did against linzy. used to talk trash to the reporters. but he was quite a guy. and later on in his life, he sort of felt badly about a lot of the things that he had done. but 1963 with segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever. >> and standing in the schoolhouse door in 1963 as president kennedy, robert kennedy tried to integrate the university of alabama, per the federal court orders. >> i think it was choreographed. he stood in the schoolhouse door, they came, nationalized the guard, and he stepped aside and it all came up. everybody got what they wanted. >> yeah, and it worked for him politically. his big mistake was in choosing curtis la may, the air force general as his vice presidential nominee, who was making comments -- >> that was in -- >> yes, it was.
>> that was in '68. >> curtis la may came out and they asked him, what about nuclear weapons? >> they said, you know, people are too frightened of these things. we tested them out and everything was fine. although the sand crab wars little hot after -- >> people might want to use them in '64, but he was saying, let's do it! >> pat buchanan is the author of "the greatest comeback: how richard nixon rose from defeat." joining us at the table is barbara perry, the director of presidential studies a lot uva's miller center. andy from owensboro, kentucky, go ahead. >> thank you, all. i would like to thank you mr. buchanan, because he's been a good servant for the united states and everything. and i take my hat off to you, mr. buchanan. my question is, i was born in 1962. i'm 55 now. i love politics. do you think that there will every be like anymore conservative democrats? i know there was some back then,
and i know there's still conservative democrats out there. do you think that there's any that will arise in the future? >> thank you, andy. socially, culturally, no. i think we saw this out in illinois, a pro-life democrat that tried to defeat him and almost did, he's an incumbent congressman. i think that on social, cultural, moral issues, the democratic party has made its move. i think the fact they lost the entire south, which was something that kept them to a degree conservative, i don't think you're ever going to see it. as a matter of fact, i think younger americans, the millennials seem to me the majority -- well, there's pro-lifers. the majority seem to me to be of the left. and the i think the democratic party will be pulled to the left. the real danger for it in the coming election, i think, is that the left nominates its candidate in the sense the way mcgovern did -- they did in 1972, when they nominated
mcgovern. and pulled the party so far to the left that nixon was a centrist republican, but the hard line gave him 49 states. republicans aren't going to win 49 states ever again. but i think the democratic party will never be conservative enough. >> we'll see in the midterms, won't we? and maybe someone like conor lamb will be as conservative as the democrats will go. but it was an interesting choice and a successful one. i would say to the caller from owensboro, kentucky, wendell ford, who became the majority whip in the senate, and was a conservative democrat from kentucky, but now there are really no such things. because kentucky is a red state, a republican state, and it's got republicans not only throughout the senate delegation, but throughout the house delegation, itself. >> i went into politics in '66. it was one republican senator in the entire old confederacy, john tower. and he had gotten that as a result of lbj becoming vice president. so, then we got howard baker in
1968 in tennessee. but now, it's -- the reverse is true. >> it's the reverse. >> raymond from cleveland, ohio, independent line with pat buchanan and barbara perry. >> how do we go from 1968 and kent state and how do we deal with -- we didn't have the social media and the internet back then. how did people organize? >> the answer is nixon opening up the cambodian front in the vietnam war, trying to stop the flow of men and material into the south and to be used against forces in south vietnam. with the announcement of that in april of 1970, the campuses explode again, particularly kent state. there's a peaceful demonstration, but the ohio national guards open fire and several are killed. that is yet another open wound
for the united states to have to deal with. how did these people organize. i watched a documentary and without social media, the way to get to the media, in those days, media is supposed to be between the media and the people. now, we are. we are the media and the people of the media. it's what pat was saying about how to reach the media in the nixon campaign. how to do good advance work to get people out if you're having a rally or a demonstration. it was word of mouth, it was telephones, it was telegrams. >> i wrote this speak with nixon, the cambodian invasion speech.
and it was very dramatic, because i think it was, what, april 1, i think it was 1970 and what happened was, they did have riots out at camp, that's why the national guard was called in by governor rhodes. he made a rough speech on sunday and monday. the students were up there and approaching these guardsmen, who foolishly had their live ammunition and rifles. four died, i think five or more wounded. i was home and i wasn't feeling and a fellow at work for me called and he said, there's four kids shot at kent state. i said, where is kent state? but word went around. that's where nixon -- nixon came closer to being broken closer than anything i've ever seen. that's the time he left the white house on the friday, went over to the lincoln poirl at 4:00 in the morning, where all these students were gathering and took beebee reboso with him.
put him up in the speaker's chair at the congress, went over to the mayflower for breakfast. in the early hours, he was really moved by what had happened there. and the white house was tremendously divided. most didn't like the invasion of cambodia and urged nixon to go much further, sort of accommodating the students. that was the roughest time of nixon's presidency, i recall in the first term. >> we're looking at 1968 beginning with eugene mccarthy's decision to seek the democratic nomination in the fall of 1967. we will look at the timeline as we listen to garrett from orlando, florida. >> good morning. very edifying. thank you both. i would like to ask or have you comment on the dump johnson campaign, that was, you know, by congress and the legislatures.
and maybe in particular or maybe listened for loinstein. >> sure. sure. i mentioned a little while ago that johnson was bouncing down into the low to mid-30s in the approval ratings. nothing will get members of a president's party, attention in congress like really low approval ratings for the president. so that's part of the dump nixon movement. he was pushing robert kennedy to join the race as an anti-war candidate. one thing we haven't mentioned that came out in ted kennedy's oral history, where we do typically presidential oral history, but he came to us to do his oral history after 40 years in the senate. and he told the story of being deputied by his brother, bobby, to go out to the midwest, to speak to eugene mccarthy, to
say, you know, bobby's considering getting in the race, but if you will put near or at the top of your agenda in addition to being anti-war, to looking into the issues of poverty, rural poverty, urban poverty, that bobby kennedy had embraced at that point. bobby will reconsider getting into the race. and according to ted kennedy. gene mccarthy said, no, anti-war is at the top of my platform. so that was the movement of lounstein trying to get bobby to get into the race. >> lounstein tried to get a number of people. he tried to get mcgovern, right? >> that maybe. >> donna from st. louis, missouri, where pat buchanan spent many time in the 1960s. good morning, donna. >> caller: that's true. good morning. i have a question for pat. but first, i would just say, i was an independent and went to california and was a delegate for you in 2000 and i had a nice chat with brian lamb while i was there. >> and my question is, there was a time when i supported the
vietnam war in the mid-60s. i was in high school and graduated in '66. you knew it was unwinnable, though, if all the chinese pouring in there, with as they did in korea. why didn't we handle vietnam like truman handled korea? i always wondered that? >> well, with truman. >> it was general eisenhower who came in and decided that that we're not going for victory. and you had a dmz where the two armies were lined up. and he threatened the chinese and he got basically an armistice. with vietnam, you had a -- you had a much different story the chinese were not in vietnam. the north vietnamese were in the south. it's a very good question. looking back, and anybody that's been involved in any way, and i
wasn't over there, but i was writing speeches in the white house and working for nixon as an aid before he ran. got to ask yourself, afterwards, the vietnam war accomplished a lot of good things. it held the line and all of those countries did not move from indonesia all around, but moved toward the west. but should we have gone in in the first place? >> barbara perry, was richard nixon undercutting the johnson administration in trying to keep the war going through the election of 1968, saying you'll get a better deal with me? >> well, that's what the latest literature, the historical literature says about that question. but i'm going to pass it over to pat, because i think he was there and he will know the answer to it. but the historians are saying, yes, that, indeed, nixon was back channeling with ana chenault. >> who was what? >> ana chenault, i understand,
was the widow of general chenault from world war ii. and was the go-between between, according to the historians' literature now, the nixon camp and the south vietnamese, encouraging the president of south vietnam to hold off on participating in peace talks, get a better deal under nixon, and remember, nixon was running, saying that he had a plan to end the war. he was being very public about that, but i'll let pat address the behind the scenes issues. >> yeah, i don't credit the -- what recent authors have said about this. i was with nixon and i had nothing to do with it. i remember going into see him that saturday, before the election, and telling him a friend of mine had called, john sears, and said, michigan's gone and we're down 3 nationally in the harris poll. if there were a signal sent, why didn't president chu say the reason i did this was this? none of these main actors were
questioned or came forward to validate the suggestion that nixon told mitchell to tell president chu don't go you will get a better deal from nixon. this is not a dumb man. one fellow said nixon told him when he heard about the bombing throw a monkey wrench into this. he used that phrase all the time about everything. >> i don't know if there are tapes of the wire taps but there are tapes of president johnson talking about this issue that you can listen to and that he told humphrey this was happening, humphrey refused to release it. >> humphrey said he didn't
believe it. >> from gaithersburg, maryland, phil. go ahead, please. good morning. >> caller: thank you for having ms. perry and mr. buchanan on, they are two fabulous guests and i appreciate that, c-span. my comment is i was a history student at the university of maryland in 1968 and the college campus behavior seems to be 50 years ago was quite different than it is today. many points of view were listened to, many points of view could be tolerated.
today it seems to be that college campus behavior is much more progressive and anyone who disagrees is silenced. >> i agree 100%. i think -- as i say, i was out there, they were hearing our view, they didn't like our views if you supported the war, but they invited you out there and they invited pro war and anti-war speakers on campus. but today you get a real sense of intolerance and a sense of -- that we have found the truth and we don't want to hear any more dissent and certain forms of dissent are racist and bigoted and homophobic and things like that. that goes to the idea that one side in the cultural war is evil and there's only one good side. >> two final points, this is a headline from the smithsonian website in 1968 when nixon said, sock it to me, on laugh-in, tv was never quite the same. it is very brief, only five seconds. listen carefully.
>> sock it to me. >> why was this significant? >> well, it was because nixon basically was the stiff -- he was considered stiff and correct was a real -- that was a real sort of progressive-type show. i didn't think it was a good idea, but i think paul keys who was a very good friend of nixon and was a writer for rowan and martin, i believe, persuaded nixon to do. >> pat said he was considered uptight and stiff, and also sweaty from 1960 in the debates with jack kennedy. so, to go on a hip and happening show, and to sort of make fun of himself like, sock it to me, as is, but they told me to say it. it's a turning point, i think, for politicians to go into popular culture. >> in our remaining minute, the lessons from 1968, barbara perry, what are they? >> i think we've touched on some of them already and they are this increasing polarization i think has kicked off the
polarization we see today in the parties and in today's culture, pat has made reference to culture wars, we still see those today.linkage between 1964 and goldwater, his brand of right wing populism in through the reagan years and nixon to some extent but reagan with movement conservatism and all the way up to donald trump. i think we see some of the seeds of both the democratic left and the republican right and democratic populism and republican populism to this day. >> pat buchanan, we give you the final word. >> i think that's very true. what you see is that goldwater sort of laid this foundation with this powerful conservative movement which basically captured the party but couldn't capture the country, and nixon picked up that movement and brought that republican party together and then picked up the
two pieces of democratic party, the northern catholics and southern protestants, created a new majority that won for republicans five out of six presidential elections after 1964, which was astounding considering the defeat then. but you're right, in the democratic party the gene mccarthy, bobby kennedy, george mcgovern wing would capture the party and nominate mcgovern in '72, but i think what you've got subsequent to '68, that year was -- we really crossed a continental divide and we have never been able to get back over that divide, i think, and it's because it involves more than simply politics, it involves the most fundamental beliefs about men, about right and wrong and good and evil and justice and injustice. there is just very little upon whic really agree these days. >> for your insights, your perspective and your stories, barbara perry of the university of virginia and pat buchanan, to both of you, thank you for being with us. >> good to see you, friend.
>> our pleasure. now, we continue our series. 1968, america in turmoil, with a look at civil rights and race relations, including martin luther king jr.'s poor people's campaign, his assassination in memphis, black power, and the commission report. our guests are kathleen cleaver, former black panther communications secretary, and historian peniel joseph of the lbj school of public affairs. first, here's cbs anchor walter cronkite on april 4th, 1968, announcing that martin lute every king jr. has been shot and killed. >> good evening. dr. martin luther king, the apostle of nonviolence in the civil rights movement, has been shot to death in memphis, tennessee. police have issued an all-points bulletin for a well-dressed young white man seen running