Skip to comments.The RFK Assassination: The Political Landscape (Remembering 1968)
Posted on 06/03/2008 5:21:25 AM PDT by Nextrush
The Robert Kennedy campaign began in the ashes of Lyndon Johnson's re-election effort.
Eugene McCarthy had spoiled LBJ, but if there was a favorite among anti-Johnson forces in the Democrat Party, it was Bobby Kennedy. He was warmly received at the 1964 convention and those who loved his brother always looked to him to bring back the Kennedy Administration. Lyndon Johnson did not bow to pressure to make Robert F. Kennedy his running mate in 1964.
Instead, LBJ chose Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey, a man who proudly wore the label "liberal" and who would buckle under to Lyndon Johnson's leadership as a Vice-President was expected to do.
Now with Johnson in the political ashcan, Hubert Humphrey was expected to carry the banner of the LBJ and the Democrat political establishment at a time when its popularity was in decline.
Humphrey did not need to contest primary elections in 1968 and probably didn't want the embarrassment of losing any under the circumstances. Most of the delegates were coming out of small private caucuses (they weren't popularized yet) and smoke filled rooms.
Humprhey worked the political insiders and they organized for him. By early June Humprhey was well on his way to nomination with around 1100 delegates. Another 500 or so "favorite son" delegates pledged to local and state political insiders were also likely to swing his way.
Bobby Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy battled it out in the handful of primaries. Kennedy won Nebraska, McCarthy won in Oregon and now the fight between the "outside" Democrat candidates would come down to California and South Dakota on June 4, 1968.
Kennedy had around 700 delegates supporting him and McCarthy picked up around 300.
Kennedy needed to win the California Primary to make his case to the backrooms that he should be the party's presidential nominee.
Is this beginning to sound familiar?
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