Skip to comments.The Republican National Convention-August 5-8, 1968 (Remembering 1968)
Posted on 08/04/2008 10:55:39 PM PDT by Nextrush
The summer of 1968 was a great time to forget the unpleasantness of changing schools that had happened earlier in the year.
I found escape in television and the offerings of the three and only networks along with "educational television" that would soon be known as PBS.
The game shows of daytime ("Match Game", "Lets Make A Deal") along with the entertainment of prime-time ("Dragnet", "Red Skelton") were running as usual until early August when political convention coverage took over.
It was wall-to-wall day and night coverage of the Republican National Convention I was seeing. The convention was being held in Miami Beach, Florida.
NBC's Chet Huntley and David Brinkley were presiding in front of a board showing candidates for president and their delegate numbers.
I saw Richard Nixon leading the pack, along with Nelson Rockefeller and in third place Ronald Reagan.
It was the first time I remember hearing these men's names. Other names were on the list, the "favorite son" candidates like George Romney of Michigan.
Behind the scenes the convention was unfolding with the backroom process leading to its inevitable conclusion.
The Republican Party would not allow a repeat of the conservative organization that allowed Barry Goldwater to take over the backroom caucus and state convention meetings of 1964.
This time the establishment of the backrooms was bringing Richard Nixon out of retirement. The man who was Eisenhower's vice-president, lost to Kennedy in 1960, then suffered defeat again running for governor of Calfornia in 1962. Nixon was now the man of the insiders.
There were a handful of GOP primaries in 1968 where voters gave California Governor Ronald Reagan the most votes. Reagan ran unopposed on the California ballot where he got most of those votes.
New York's Governor Nelson Rockefeller was in the fray like he was in 1964, but still damaged goods for being too liberal and for divorcing his wife to marry another woman. "Rocky" had his strength but was still far short of Nixon in delegates.
Nixon sewed up a majority of delegates and got the nomination.
Lyndon Johnson had painted Barry Goldwater as a "warmonger" in 1964, but now Johnson wore that label and Nixon pledged to bring an honorable peace in Vietnam.
Ronald Reagan only officially announced his presidential candidacy on August 5th, the first day of the convention.
When Richard Nixon picked his running mate, he chose Governor Spiro Agnew of Maryland. Agnew won election in 1966 by drawing a lot of black support against the old segregationist Democrat Party organization in Maryland.
Agnew openly supported Nelson Rockefeller for president, but earlier in the year angered many black leaders when he attacked the violence following Martin Luther King's assassination.
Agnew would go on to be known as a conservative type critic of the liberal media during the Nixon presidency, with the president distancing himself from the comments.
But at this point Agnew's selection was Nixon's way of appeasing the Rockefeller wing of the party, again locking conservatives out.
Nixon would again look to Nelson Rockefeller for a another member of his team when he chose Rockefeller foreign policy advisor Henry Kissinger as his national security advisor.
Nixon and Agnew were ready to campaign while Democrats still had to wait for two more weeks and their convention in Chicago to chose their candidates.
“Ronald Reagan only officially announced his presidential candidacy on August 5th, the first day of the convention.”
Most people don’t know how close Ronald Reagan actually came to getting the GOP nomination in 1968. At the time, delegates were required to vote for their state’s primary winners. Nixon went into the Convention with a very small majority of committed delegates. Reagan and Nelson Rockefeller (talk about strange bedfellows) coordinated to try to prevent Nixon from getting the 667 votes he needed to win the nomination. By the time the convention started, it was well known that many delegates obligated to vote for Nixon intended to switch to Reagan on the second ballot, if Nixon fell short of the number he needed. As it turned out, Nixon managed to eke out a narrow victory with 692 delegates on the first ballot. Reagan got only 182 votes on the first ballot. However, had Nixon received 25 fewer votes, his delegates would have quickly defected to Reagan.
Johnson=murderer of American soldiers.
I turned 7 in August 1968 (more precisely, the week of the other, more "celebrated"/lionized/immortalized [sarcasm off] convention of that year).
My newly divorced mom and I watched the RNC on TV in our newly-built apartment in suburban Philly (PA side). I remember wondering what an elephant was doing on the front of the podium, not knowing that the parties had mascots. And on the night Nixon accepted, I marveled at the balloons cascading from the ceiling.
And slightly off topic, I joined my aforementioned mom that summer at a Delaware County Republican picnic at the Springfield Country Club. I remember one of the tables sporting repeated images of Snoopy getting shot down by von Richtofen (IYR "Peanuts" was like "The Simpsons" later on - the fad funnie of 1968).
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