Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Great Republicans Recalls Another Great Republican…Honest, We Wouldn't Lie

Patrick Buchanan. The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose from Defeat to Create the New Majority. New York, N.Y.: Crown Forum, 2014.

Nixon was elected President in 1968 with 43% of the vote. He only carried California by 224,000 votes. Had he lost California, the election would have been decided by the Democratic Congress.

Nixon was elected to Congress in 1948. While he rose as a noted anti-Communist, Nixon supported Dewey in 1948. Nixon was in favor of the Marshall Plane, NATO, and military aid to Greece and Turkey Nixon supported Eisenhower for President in 1952 over “Mr. Conservative” Senator Robert Taft.

Nixon was picked o run for Vice President. Eisenhower was about to drop Nixon off the ticket due to a fund scandal, yet Nixon’s Checkers speech kept him on the ticket. Eisenhower tried to get Nixon off the ticket in 1956 by offering him any Cabinet position except State. Nixon was deeply hurt and successfully fought to stay on the ticket.

In 1960, Nixon ran for President. Nixon flew to New York to meet with Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Nixon agreed prior to the meeting to agree to minor changes in the Republican Platform that Rockefeller and other liberal Republicans wanted. Senator Barry Goldwater called this a “sellout”.

Nixon lost to John Kennedy for President. Kennedy had been deliberately absent on the Senate vote censuring Senator Joseph McCarthy. Nixon and Kennedy had similar views on many issues.

Nixon ran for California Governor in 1963. He defeated Assembly Minority Leader Joe Shell in the primary Shell supporting keeping the John Birch Society as being of the Republican Party. Nixon disagreed. Nixon won the primary by a 2 to 1 margin

In the general election, Senator Tom Kuchel, a liberal Republican, refused to endorse Nixon. Thus, Nixon was under attack from both liberal Republicans and conservative pro-Bircher Republicans, Nixon lost the election to Governor Pat Brown.

ABC News ran a show “The Political Obituary of Richard Nixon”. The use of Alger Hiss, convicted of spying for the Soviet Union, being interviewed criticizing Nixon created a backlash that won some support for Nixon.

Nixon did not run for President in 1964. Some believe Nixon hoped for a deadlocked convention that would turn to him. Goldwater supporters, sensing this, began attacking Nixon, Nixon told Buchanan “if you ever hear of a group forming to “Stop X”, put your money on X.”

Buchanan was an editorial writer for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. Nixon hired Buchanan as a speech writer in 1966. The only other full time paid staffer Nixon had then was his secretary Rose Woods. He would not hire anyone else until 1967.

Nixon observed “the trouble with the far right conservatives is that they really don’t give a damn about the people and the voters sense that. Yet any Republican candidate can’t stray too far from the right wingers.”

Nixon distrusted William F. Buckley, publisher of the “National Review” and saw “Buckleyites as a threat to the Republican Party.” The “National Review” demanded to know if Nixon had stated that. Buchanan crafted a reply that William F. Buckley, then running as the Conservative Party candidate for Mayor of New York, had “made himself a much stronger candidate and a greater threat to the Republican candidate, Representative Lindsay.” The “National Review” accepted this and printed that “if Richard Nixon is willing to give personal leadership to Republican conservatives, he will find them ready to follow him.” William F.. Buckley followed with pro-Nixon columns.

Nixon told Buchanan a rule of politics is to “give the voters 20 percent of what they want.”

Nixon in 1968, unlike in 1960, knew the Republican Eastern Establishment was no longer essential to the Republican nomination. Republican conservatives in the West and South controlled the Republican Party. Buchanan saw Ronald Reagan as Nixon’s strongest challenger.

Nixon had campaigned for Goldwater in 1964. Goldwater returned the favor and supported Nixon in 1968.

Nixon ran on a “law and order” platform in 1969. Prior, the phrase was considered a code word for racism. Buchanan agues Nixon’s “Southern strategy” was not built upon racism. Nixon denounced the Democratic establishment for refusing to denounce George and Lurleen Wallace, Lester Maddox and George Mahoney. Mahoney was an anti-open housing candidate for Maryland Governor running against Spiro Agnew.

Buchanan believes the South switched from majority Democrat to majority Republican, not because of race issues, but because of the “South’s contempt for a liberal press and hypocritical Democratic Party.”

Governor George Romney led in the 1966 polls for the 1968 Republican Presidential nomination. Nixon deliberately stayed out of politics for six months. Romney was the focus of much press criticism of his speeches and for not taking a stand on the Vietnam War, Romney’s support dropped and Nixon led the polls.

Gaylord Parkinson managed the campaign for Bob Finch (who was Nixon’s 1960 campaign manager) for Lieutenant Governor of California where Finch won by 250,00 more votes than Ronald Reagan received in winning for Governor. Parkinson was hired for Nixon’s campaign.

Parkinson or his aides gave the media information they had been told not to give them. Nixon was attempting to move closer to conservatives while Parkinson was moving in the opposite direction. Parkinson was asked to leave amicably as his wife was ill. Governor Henry Bellman served as an interim Campaign Chairan until it was decided to hire John Mitchell.

Romney stated he was brainwashed by the Administration while touring Vietnam. He urged withdrawing from the war. That statement and position among Republicans lowered Romney’s popularity. Senator Eugene McCartthy joked it was not necessary to brainwash Romney as “a light rinse would have sufficed.”

Buchanan was among those who learned in 1968 that Lt Governor Thomas Eagleton, then running for the U.S. Senate, has been hospitalized several times for mental problems.

Drew Pearson wrote of a “homosexual ring” in Governor Reagan’s office and that Reagan knew about it and waited six months to fire them and did so only because the scandal was about to become public

Nixon did not want former President Dwight Eisenhower to campaign for him. This upset Eisenhower. Mamie Eisenhower as well as Dwight Eisenhower’s physician had asked Nixon to refuse to let Eisenhower campaign as Eisenhower was in poor health.

Nixon admired Woodrow Wilson “because Wilson had dared greatly.”

H.R. Haldemann, who managed Nixon’s 1962 campaign for Governor, urged instead of having six or seven campaign evens a day to limit them to two, one for the morning papers and one for the evening papers. That way a candidate would not be tired from speaking to supporters and would have time to think and strategize.

Nixon ran as a social and fiscal conservative in 1968. Yet he knew to support Socia Security and Medicare.

Buchanan notes Nixon stated on Vietnam “I pledge to you that new leadership will end the war.” Buchanan states that Nixon never claimed to have a “secret plan” to end the war.

Drew Pearson, in his private newsletter, wrote Nelson Rockefeller was having an affair with a staffer. When Rockefeller announced he wa not running for President in 1968, Nixon concluded “it’s the girl.” Pearson later published that the rumor was false. Pearson accused Nixon’s campaign of creating the rumor. A former FBI agent later claimed the allegations began with former Senator Prescott Bush.

Spiro Agnew nominated Nixon at the Republican Convention. Agnew and Nixon’s team could not agree on the speech. Buchanan took the rejected drafts and crafted a speech Agnew agreed to deliver.

Buchanan writes there was no discussion among staff of selecting Agnew to be Nixon’s running mate. He recalls staff reaching no consensus on who it should be. When Agnew was chosen, George Romney was placed into nomination for Vice President yet was crushed by Agnew.

The first Gallup Poll, after the Republican Convention, had Nixon at 45%, Humphrey 29%, and George Wallace at 21%. Humphrey gained in the polls and nearly won.

The riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago hurt Humphrey. Buchanan believes there was truth to Hunter Thompson’s then observation that “Richard Nixon is in the White House today because of what happened that night in Chicago.”


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