The Deadly Bet: LBJ, Vietnam, and the 1968 Election (Vietnam: America in the War Years)
In , the Vietnam War, political assassinations, and racial unrest buffeted the United States. Relations Throughout History , led President Lyndon Walter LaFeber.
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It was also accepted at the beginning of the year that Johnson's record of domestic accomplishments would overshadow public opposition to the Vietnam War and that he would easily boost his public image after he started campaigning. Kennedy from New York, an outspoken critic of Johnson's policies with a large base of support, initially declined to run against Johnson in the primaries.
Poll numbers also suggested that a large share of Americans who opposed the Vietnam War felt the growth of the anti-war hippie movement among younger Americans was not helping their cause. Although the American military was eventually able to fend off the attacks, and also inflict heavy losses among the communist opposition, the ability of the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong to launch large scale attacks during the Tet Offensive's long duration greatly weakened American support for the military draft and further combat operations in Vietnam.
Running as an anti-war candidate in the New Hampshire primary , McCarthy hoped to pressure the Democrats into publicly opposing the Vietnam War.
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Since New Hampshire was the first presidential primary of , McCarthy poured most of his limited resources into the state. He was boosted by thousands of young college students led by youth coordinator Sam Brown ,  who shaved their beards and cut their hair to be "Clean for Gene". These students organized get-out-the-vote drives, rang doorbells, distributed McCarthy buttons and leaflets, and worked hard in New Hampshire for McCarthy. On March 12, McCarthy won 42 percent of the primary vote to Johnson's 49 percent, a shockingly strong showing against an incumbent president.
Even more impressively, since Johnson had more than 24 supporters running for the Democratic National Convention delegate slots to be filled in the election, while McCarthy's campaign organized more strategically, McCarthy won 20 of the 24 delegates. This gave McCarthy's campaign legitimacy and momentum. Sensing Johnson's vulnerability, Senator Robert F. Kennedy announced his candidacy four days after the New Hampshire primary.
Thereafter, McCarthy and Kennedy engaged in a series of state primaries. Kennedy won most of the primaries in which he and McCarthy were in direct competition. On March 31, , following the New Hampshire primary and Kennedy's entry into the election, the president announced to the nation in a televised speech that he was suspending all bombing of North Vietnam in favor of peace talks. Johnson concluded his speech and startled the nation by announcing "With America's 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 partisan causes or to 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.
The deadly bet: LBJ, Vietnam, and the election - Walter LaFeber - Google книги
Indeed, he died on January 22, , only two days after the new presidential term concluded. Bleak political forecasts also contributed to Johnson's withdrawal; internal polling by Johnson's campaign in Wisconsin, the next state to hold a primary election, showed the President trailing badly. Historians have debated just why Johnson quit a few days after his weak showing in New Hampshire. Jeff Shesol says Johnson wanted out of the White House but also wanted vindication; when the indicators turned negative he decided to leave.
Gould maintains that Johnson had neglected the party, was hurting it by his Vietnam policies, and underestimated McCarthy's strength until the very last minute, when it was too late for Johnson to recover. His health was not good, and he was preoccupied with the Kennedy campaign; his wife was pressing for his retirement and his base of support continued to shrink.
Leaving the race would allow him to pose as a peacemaker. Bennett, however, claims Johnson "had been forced out of a re-election race in by outrage over his policy in Southeast Asia".
The Deadly Bet : LBJ, Vietnam, and the 1968 Election
It has also been reported that Johnson decided to wind down his re-election bid after popular and influential CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite turned against the president's policy in Vietnam and recommended peace negotiations during a CBS News editorial which aired on February Since the Vietnam War had become the major issue that was dividing the Democratic Party, and Johnson had come to symbolize the war for many liberal Democrats, Johnson believed that he could not win the nomination without a major struggle, and that he would probably lose the election in November to the Republicans.
However, by withdrawing from the race he could avoid the stigma of defeat, and he could keep control of the party machinery by giving the nomination to Humphrey, who had been a loyal vice-president. He told Humphrey, who refused to use allegations based on illegal wiretaps of a presidential candidate. Nixon himself called Johnson and denied the allegations.
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Dallek concludes that Nixon's advice to Saigon made no difference, and that Humphrey was so closely identified with Johnson's unpopular policies that no last-minute deal with Hanoi could have affected the election. However, in primaries where they campaigned directly against one another, Kennedy won three primaries Indiana, Nebraska, and California and McCarthy won one Oregon. Smathers from Florida, Senator Stephen M. Young from Ohio, and Governor Roger D. Branigin of Indiana. Instead, Humphrey concentrated on winning the delegates in non-primary states, where party leaders such as Chicago Mayor Richard J.
Daley controlled the delegate votes in their states. However, McCarthy upset Kennedy in the Oregon primary. McCarthy stumped the state's many colleges and universities, where he was treated as a hero for being the first presidential candidate to oppose the war.
Kennedy campaigned in the ghettos and barrios of the state's larger cities, where he was mobbed by enthusiastic supporters. Kennedy and McCarthy engaged in a television debate a few days before the primary; it was generally considered a draw. However, McCarthy refused to withdraw from the race and made it clear that he would contest Kennedy in the upcoming New York primary, where McCarthy had much support from anti-war activists in New York City. The New York primary quickly became a moot point, however, for Kennedy was shot shortly after midnight on June 5; he died twenty-six hours later.
Kennedy had just given his victory speech in a crowded ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles; he and his aides then entered a narrow kitchen pantry on their way to a banquet room to meet with reporters. In the pantry Kennedy and five others were shot by Sirhan Sirhan , a year-old Rosicrucian Palestinian of Christian background and Jordanian citizenship, who hated Kennedy because of his support for Israel.
Sirhan admitted his guilt, was convicted of murder, and is still in prison. Political historians still debate whether Kennedy could have won the Democratic nomination had he lived. Some historians, such as Theodore H. White and Arthur M.
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Schlesinger, Jr. Jack Newfield, author of RFK: A Memoir , stated in a interview that on the night he was assassinated, "[Kennedy] had a phone conversation with Mayor Daley of Chicago, and Mayor Daley all but promised to throw the Illinois delegates to Bobby at the convention in August The journalist Richard Reeves and historian Michael Beschloss have both written that Humphrey was the likely nominee, and future Democratic National Committee chairman Larry O'Brien wrote in his memoirs that Kennedy's chances of winning the nomination had been slim, even after his win in California.
Total popular vote: . Robert Kennedy's death altered the dynamics of the race. Although Humphrey appeared the presumptive favorite for the nomination, thanks to his support from the traditional power blocs of the party, he was an unpopular choice with many of the anti-war elements within the party, who identified him with Johnson's controversial position on the Vietnam War.
However, Kennedy's delegates failed to unite behind a single candidate who could have prevented Humphrey from getting the nomination. Some of Kennedy's support went to McCarthy, but many of Kennedy's delegates, remembering their bitter primary battles with McCarthy, refused to vote for him. Instead, these delegates rallied around the late-starting candidacy of Senator George McGovern of South Dakota, a Kennedy supporter in the spring primaries who had presidential ambitions himself. This division of the anti-war votes at the Democratic Convention made it easier for Humphrey to gather the delegates he needed to win the nomination.
When the Democratic National Convention opened in Chicago, thousands of young activists from around the nation gathered in the city to protest the Vietnam War. On the evening of August 28, in a clash which was covered on live television, Americans were shocked to see Chicago police brutally beating anti-war protesters in the streets of Chicago in front of the Conrad Hilton Hotel. While the protesters chanted " the whole world is watching ", the police used clubs and tear gas to beat back or arrest the protesters, leaving many of them bloody and dazed. The tear gas wafted into numerous hotel suites; in one of them Vice President Humphrey was watching the proceedings on television.
The police said that their actions were justified because numerous police officers were being injured by bottles, rocks, and broken glass that were being thrown at them by the protestors. The protestors had also yelled insults at the police, calling them "pigs" and other epithets. The anti-war and police riot divided the Democratic Party's base: some supported the protestors and felt that the police were being heavy-handed, but others disapproved of the violence and supported the police.
The Deadly Bet: LBJ, Vietnam, and the 1968 Election (Vietnam. America in the War Years)
Meanwhile, the convention itself was marred by the strong-arm tactics of Chicago's mayor Richard J. Daley who was seen on television angrily cursing Senator Abraham Ribicoff from Connecticut, who made a speech at the convention denouncing the excesses of the Chicago police.
In the end, the nomination itself was anti-climactic, with Vice-President Humphrey handily beating McCarthy and McGovern on the first ballot. After the delegates nominated Humphrey, the convention then turned to selecting a vice-presidential nominee. The main candidates for this position were Senators Edward M. Ted Kennedy was Humphrey's first choice, but the senator turned him down.
The convention complied with the request and nominated Senator Muskie as Humphrey's running mate. The publicity from the anti-war riots crippled Humphrey's campaign from the start, and it never fully recovered. Many believe that this is due in part to the violence and chaos of the convention. Source: Keating Holland, "All the Votes Really," CNN . The American Independent Party , which was established in by Bill and Eileen Shearer, nominated former Alabama Governor George Wallace — whose pro- segregation policies had been rejected by the mainstream of the Democratic Party — as the party's candidate for president.
The impact of the Wallace campaign was substantial, winning the electoral votes of several states in the Deep South. He appeared on the ballot in all fifty states, but not the District of Columbia. Although he did not come close to winning any states outside the South, Wallace was the most popular presidential candidate among young men.
Wallace did not expect to win the election — his strategy was to prevent either major party candidate from winning a preliminary majority in the Electoral College. He had his electors pledge to vote not necessarily for him but rather for whomever he directed them to support — his objective was not to move the election into the U. House of Representatives , but rather to give himself the bargaining power to determine the winner. Wallace's running mate was retired four star General Curtis LeMay.
Prior to deciding on LeMay, Wallace gave serious consideration to former U. Senator, Governor, and Baseball Commissioner A. Happy Chandler of Kentucky as his running mate. Paradoxically, Chandler supported the segregationist Dixiecrats in the presidential elections. But, after being reelected Governor of Kentucky in , he used National Guard troops to enforce school integration. LeMay embarrassed Wallace's campaign in the fall by suggesting that nuclear weapons could be used in Vietnam. Also on the ballot in two or more states were black activist Eldridge Cleaver who was ineligible to take office, as he would have only been 33 years of age on January 20, for the Peace and Freedom Party , Henning Blomen for the Socialist Labor Party , Fred Halstead for the Socialist Workers Party , E.
Harold Munn for the Prohibition Party , and Charlene Mitchell — the first African-American woman to run for president, and the first woman to receive valid votes in a general election — for the Communist Party. Comedians Dick Gregory and Pat Paulsen were notable write-in candidates. A facetious presidential candidate for was a pig named Pigasus , as a political statement by the Yippies , to illustrate their premise that "one pig's as good as any other. Nixon developed a " Southern strategy " that was designed to appeal to conservative white southerners, who traditionally voted Democratic, but were opposed to Johnson and Humphrey's support for the civil rights movement, as well as the rioting that had broken out in the ghettos of most large cities.
Wallace, however, won over many of the voters Nixon targeted, effectively splitting the conservative vote. Indeed, Wallace deliberately targeted many states he had little chance of carrying himself in the hope that by splitting the conservative vote with Nixon he would give those states to Humphrey and, by extension, boost his own chances of denying both opponents an Electoral College majority.
Since he was well behind Nixon in the polls as the campaign began, Humphrey opted for a slashing, fighting campaign style. He repeatedly — and unsuccessfully — challenged Nixon to a televised debate, and he often compared his campaign to the successful underdog effort of President Harry Truman , another Democrat who had trailed in the polls, in the presidential election. Humphrey predicted that he, like Truman, would surprise the experts and win an upset victory. Nixon campaigned on a theme to restore " law and order ,"  which appealed to many voters angry with the hundreds of violent riots that had taken place across the country in the previous few years.
Following the murder of Martin Luther King in April , there was massive rioting in inner city areas. Hardest hit were Detroit and Washington. The police were overwhelmed and President Johnson had to call out the U. Nixon also opposed forced busing to desegregate schools. During the campaign, Nixon proposed government tax incentives to African Americans for small businesses and home improvements in their existing neighborhoods.
During the campaign, Nixon also used as a theme his opposition to the decisions of Chief Justice Earl Warren. Many conservatives were critical of Chief Justice Warren for using the Supreme Court to promote liberal policies in the fields of civil rights , civil liberties , and the separation of church and state. Nixon promised that if he were elected president, he would appoint justices who would take a less-active role in creating social policy. Anderson had argued in the paper for an end to the draft and the creation of an all-volunteer army.
Humphrey, meanwhile, promised to continue and expand the Great Society welfare programs started by President Johnson, and to continue the Johnson Administration's "War on Poverty. However, Humphrey also felt constrained for most of his campaign in voicing any opposition to the Vietnam War policies of President Johnson, due to his fear that Johnson would reject any peace proposals he made and undermine his campaign. As a result, early in his campaign Humphrey often found himself the target of anti-war protestors, some of whom heckled and disrupted his campaign rallies.
After the Democratic Convention in late August, Humphrey trailed Nixon by double digits in most polls , and his chances seemed hopeless. According to Time magazine, "The old Democratic coalition was disintegrating, with untold numbers of blue-collar workers responding to Wallace's blandishments, Negroes threatening to sit out the election, liberals disaffected over the Vietnam War, the South lost. The war chest was almost empty, and the party's machinery, neglected by Lyndon Johnson, creaked in disrepair.
In order to distance himself from Johnson and to take advantage of the Democratic plurality in voter registration, Humphrey stopped being identified in ads as "Vice-President Hubert Humphrey," instead being labelled "Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey. Curtis LeMay's suggestion of tactical nuclear weapons being used in Vietnam conjured up memories of the Goldwater campaign.
Polls that showed Wallace winning almost one-half of union members in the summer of showed a sharp decline in his union support as the campaign progressed. As election day approached and Wallace's support in the North and Midwest began to wane, Humphrey finally began to climb in the polls. In October, Humphrey—who was rising sharply in the polls due to the collapse of the Wallace vote—began to distance himself publicly from the Johnson administration on the Vietnam War, calling for a bombing halt.
The key turning point for Humphrey's campaign came when President Johnson officially announced a bombing halt, and even a possible peace deal, the weekend before the election. The "Halloween Peace" gave Humphrey's campaign a badly needed boost. In addition, Senator Eugene McCarthy finally endorsed Humphrey in late October after previously refusing to do so, and by election day the polls were reporting a dead heat.
The Nixon campaign had anticipated a possible " October surprise ," a peace agreement produced by the Paris negotiations, to boost Humphrey and thwarted any last-minute chances of a "Halloween Peace. Haldeman to put a "monkey wrench" into an early end to the war. Bryce Harlow , former Eisenhower White House staff member, claimed to have "a double agent working in the White House I kept Nixon informed.
Nixon has been told of it," Democratic senator George Smathers informed Johnson. Nixon asked Anna Chennault to be his "channel to Mr. Thieu " in order to advise him to refuse participation in the talks, in what is sometimes described as the "Anna Chennault Affair. On November 2, Chennault informed the South Vietnamese ambassador: "I have just heard from my boss in Albuquerque who says his boss [Nixon] is going to win.
And you tell your boss [Thieu] to hold on a while longer. William Bundy stated that Kissinger obtained "no useful inside information" from his trip to Paris, and "almost any experienced Hanoi watcher might have come to the same conclusion". While Kissinger may have "hinted that his advice was based on contacts with the Paris delegation," this sort of "self-promotion Humphrey later regretted this as a mistake.
The election on November 5, , proved to be extremely close, and it was not until the following morning that the television news networks were able to declare Nixon the winner. The key states proved to be California, Ohio, and Illinois, all of which Nixon won by three percentage points or less. Had Humphrey carried all three of these states, he would have won the election. Had he carried only two of them or just California among them, George Wallace would have succeeded in his aim of preventing an electoral college majority for any candidate, and the decision would have been given to the House of Representatives, at the time controlled by the Democratic Party.
Nixon won the popular vote with a plurality of , votes, or a victory margin of about one percentage point. In the electoral college Nixon's victory was larger, as he carried 32 states with electoral votes, compared to Humphrey's 13 states and electoral votes and Wallace's five states and 46 electoral votes. Out of all the states that Nixon had previously carried in , Maine and Washington were the only two states that did not vote for him again; Nixon carried them during his re-election campaign in He also carried eight states that voted for John F. This was the last time until that the state of Washington voted Democratic and until that Connecticut, Maine, and Michigan voted Democratic in the general election.
Nixon was also the last Republican candidate to win a presidential election without carrying Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. This is the first time which the Republican candidate captured the White House without carrying Michigan, Minnesota, Maine and Pennsylvania. He would be the last Republican candidate to carry Minnesota four years later, in , as of Remarkably, Nixon won the election despite winning only two of the six states Arizona and South Carolina won by Republican Barry Goldwater four years earlier.
He remains the only presidential candidate to win in spite of defending such a low number of his own party's states. All of the remaining four States carried by Goldwater were carried by Wallace in They would be won by Nixon in Wallace was victorious in counties Nixon said that Humphrey left a gracious message congratulating him, noting, "I know exactly how he felt. I know how it feels to lose a close one. Nixon's victory is often considered a realigning election in American politics. From to , the Democratic Party was undoubtedly the majority party, winning seven out of nine presidential elections, and their agenda influenced policies undertaken by the Republican Eisenhower administration.
The election reversed the situation completely. From until , Republicans won seven out of ten presidential elections, and its policies clearly affected those enacted by the Democratic Clinton administration via the Third Way. The election was a seismic event in the long-term realignment in Democratic Party support, especially in the South. Democrats could no longer count on white Southern support for the presidency, as Republicans made major gains in suburban areas and areas filled with Northern migrants. While Democrats controlled local and state politics in the South, Republicans usually won the presidential vote.
In , Humphrey won less than ten percent of the white Southern vote, with two-thirds of his vote in the region coming from blacks, who now voted in full strength. Another important result of this election was that it led to several reforms in how the Democratic Party chose its presidential nominees. In , the McGovern—Fraser Commission adopted a set of rules for the states to follow in selecting convention delegates.
These rules reduced the influence of party leaders on the nominating process and provided greater representation for minorities, women, and youth. The reforms led most states to adopt laws requiring primary elections, instead of party leaders, to choose delegates. After , the only way to win the party's presidential nomination became through the primary process; Humphrey turned out to be the last nominee of either major party to win his party's nomination without having directly competed in the primaries.
This was also the last election in which any third party candidate won an entire state's electoral votes, with Wallace carrying five states. This election was the last time until that the Democratic nominee won Connecticut, Maine, and Michigan and the last until when Washington voted Democrat, and the last time a Republican won the presidency without winning Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.
This disparity prompted the introduction of the Bayh—Celler Constitutional amendment in Congress, which would have replaced the Electoral College with a direct election of the presidency. The effort was not successful and the Electoral College is still in force.
Source Popular Vote : Leip, David.