tv Washington Journal 1968 - Presidential Campaign CSPAN March 25, 2018 10:30pm-12:01am EDT
download the landmark cases podcast at c-span.org. >> interested in american history tv? can view website, you our tv schedule, preview upcoming programs, and watch college lectures, museum tours, archival films, and more. american history tv at c-span.org/history. >> next, from our nine week series 1968, america in turmoil, a look at the presidential campaign. 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 and barbara perry, presidential studies director of the
university of virginias center. first a look at the lyndon b. johnson's televised oval office address on march 31, 1968, when he surprised the nation with his announcement that he would not run for reelection. >> on the last evening of march 1968, the stage was set. shortly before 9 p.m. washington time, in the midst of last-minute electronic preparations, 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. so preoccupieson our people. no other dream so absorbs the
250 million human beings who live in our part of that world. no other goal motivates american policy in southeast asia. >> first addressing himself to the continuing problem of vietnam, the president outlined plans for unilateral american de-escalation of that conflict. >> i have ordered our aircraft and naval vessels to make no attacks on north vietnam. north of the demilitarized zone continuing enemy buildup therapy threatens allied forward positions and where the movement of their troops and supplies are clearly related to that threat. the area in which we are stopping our attacks includes almost 90% of north vietnam's population. and most of its territory.
thus there will be no attacks around the principle populated areas around the food producing areas of vietnam. even this very limited bombing of the north could come to an early end it if our restraint is matched by restraint in hanoi. >> the president went on to speak in moving words that the future he foresees america obtaining. it wasn't the final moments of his speech that stunned the nation and reverberated around the world. to a disbelieving audience of countless millions president , johnson announced a decision that have been many months in the making, but only resolved within himself. and in the final hours of march. >> with american sons in the
field far away, america's future under challenge right here at home, with our hopes and the world's hopes for peace and balance every day. i do not believe i should devote an hour of our day or my time to any personal partisan causes or than thes other awesome duties of this office, the presidency of your country. accordingly, i shall not seek and i will not accept the nomination from 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. theant to begin with announcement by senator eugene mccarthy in november of 1967 to see the democratic nomination. tet offensive began on january 30 of 1968. richard nixon formerly enters the president's race on february 1 and george wallace, the governor alabama enters on february 8. president johnson wins the new hampshire primary but narrowly against eugene mccarthy and then just a few days later senator robert f kennedy entering the democratic race announcing here in washington, two weeks later president lyndon johnson stunning the nation announcing he will not seek reelection. then on april 4, dr. martin luther king assassinated in memphis, tennessee. it were humphrey, the vice president entering the race on april 27 1968, and in senator robert f kennedy winning the california primary, shot after
midnight on the day of victory and dies on june 6, 1968. richard nixon accepting the republican nomination in august of that year. later that year, amidst the riots richard nixon is elected president on november 5, 1968. we want to welcome our guest, barbara perry from the university of virginia. thank you for joining us. pat buchanan, who was the next and eight in 1968. let me begin by asking you about -- who was a nixon aide in 1968. let me begin by asking you about the announcement of lyndon johnson, march 31, where were you? >> on the saturday before that sunday, i was at nixon's apartment. he was going to give his speech on vietnam. we were there and having an argument. nixon was moving toward a more dovish position on the war when we got word from cbs that lyndon johnson had asked for
time sunday night. so when nixon was going to wisconsin the next day and he told me, pat, i want you to be out at the private terminal, when i come back from wisconsin, he was making an appearance for the primary, to brief me on what johnson said before the press gets to me. i am sitting in a limousine at the tarmac at laguardia, and nixon's african-american driver was there and a new it would -- he starts yelling, 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 he was walking through the jet and i got on the plane and i said johnson is out and he will not run again. nixon stepped out to this top -- to the top of the steps and he said i guess is -- it is the year of the dropout. george romney had dropped out of new hampshire on him.
nelson rockefeller had decided not to run earlier in march. in two nixon's apartment and i remember telling him i thought hubert humphrey would be a tougher nominee and i thought humphrey would get the nomination. challengenot expect a robert kennedy? craig seated not think kennedy would win the nomination. i did not either. >> let's go back to the announcement of eugene mccarthy. who was he and why was his voice so important in the 1968 campaign? >> gene mccarthy was a senator from the midwest who had been a professor of economics and sociology. very aloof and he entered the race as the piece candidate. he got students to support him.
he got them to shave their heads and cut their beards. he was the young people's candidate, the upper-middle-class bang candidate for the democrats. if you put the personality of gene mccarthy next to lyndon johnson, they thought they would be running to get the nomination, you could not have found two more different personalities. but he was definitely the antiwar candidate and comes with an seven percentage points of the reason johnson dropped out. guest: johnson's name was not on the ballot. he won the race with 49% as a write in. half thought that johnson had not been tough enough on the war.
i will say april 2 when they got to wisconsin, mccarthy just walked up the floor with johnson there and i think his guys had holes and they knew it was coming. >> they knew that johnson was coming at 35% approval rating at that point. he was going to have to boost up the troop numbers in vietnam. it was just not looking good. plus, he suffered a heart attack. >> nixon announced on february 1. we flew up secretly on the 31st and nixon registered under the name benjamin chatman. we took him into a hotel. february 2, it is a single story of the new york times. the big picture is about the saigon police chief who has got a revolver next to the head of the the at call -- to the head of
the viet cong where he fired and killed that really dramatized it. >> it was galvanizing moment. >> let's talk about richard nixon. he lost the presidency in he 1960. loses his bid for governor in 1962. he moves back to new york in the mid- why did he run 1960's. in 1968 and what was the state of the republican party? >> in 1964 goldwater was wiped out and nixon was really surrogate for goldwater. nixon was basically a two-time loser and was considered a political loser. so he moved to new york. i went to work for him, 1965, 1966, and january of 1966. he said i will hire you for one year and if we do not do well, the nomination will not be worth anything.
five weeks in 1966, nixon campaigned, pay for it himself, got his own plane. he must have been 35 states. it is a great comeback, nixon him and helped pick up 37 seats in the house, three seats in the senate, hundreds of legislators, greatest republican victory since 1946. i remember tom evans came up to me and said, an editorial writer in st. louis, i said you i do not think you're going back to st. louis. so what nixon did is he declared a six-month moratorium on politics and set i have been in the limelight and went into a straight battle with johnson and johnson attacked him in the white house. nixon pulled himself completely out. i said romney was running first in the polls ahead of johnson
and ahead of nixon. is it wise to give him that space and time when you're going nowhere. nixon says you know, i think any -- i need to get out of the public arena for a while and let him shoe on -- left them chew on him a little while which meant the press, and the press went after romney because he was the only one out there. especially around september 1 where romney made his famous statements, when i was over in vietnam, they were trying to tell me how is brain washed and i remember mccarthy in character with him who said an's case, you would not need a complete brainwashing. a light rinse would have done the job. [laughter] host: i want to take you back to that time and a very young pat buchanan with richard nixon, the former vice
president. we will watch this. >> it seems to be a pretty magnificent turnout. >> somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 go by already. i would estimate more than 3000 for the total. >> are they republicans or are they a mixture? >> i couldn't say. i would assume it is a good cross-section. we don't know how many coming in. we hope they all will be going out. >> there are three, how is that? all right.
>> are you a friend of dave? is the eight good chairman? you really think so? >> he is a good guy. >> good. a lot of people said he is too young to be the chairman. are you on his payroll? [laughter] >> no. i'm retired. >> you were in the service? the big one? what division were you in? heavy artillery.
>> a big guns. >> we have a return -- >> artillery, sure. yes. you know it is hard to realize we have had so many wars since then. north korea and vietnam. let's hope we can get rid of them. let's do something. good to see you, nice to meet you. host: from february of 1968, pat buchanan. you sound the same. guest: thank you. that was at saint anselm's. and mrs.00 people nixon went all through the receiving line. 3000 people, and president mrs. next and went through. there is a sad anecdote. the fellow who was the chairman of our campaign in new hampshire was dave stirling. a very young guy. we did not want to antagonize any we got a young state
legislator. he died at that automobile accident but did a great job out there. i will say this. with nixon, in 1968 we studied how nixon overdid it and ran himself into the ground and so did jack kennedy. we went to new hampshire for two days and maybe three days and fly them down where they can relax and take it easy and go into wisconsin. we paste him very well. we knew it was a marathon. i can still remember it. it was just tremendously well if -- well advanced. look how many came out voluntarily, etc.. we had a terrific crowd with 3000 people. that was the kind of event nixon wanted to do. it was just excellent. >> that exchange with a world war i veteran. clearly that was the driving issue of 1968. can you explain what is going on
here in this country, how americans are viewing the war and how they were turning against president johnson. >> we mentioned the tet offensive in january 1968. i'm glad there are no videos of 1968. i will say i was a 12-year-old in the six grade. my brother was 10 years older than i and graduating from college. in louisville where we grew up that spring. he was told by his draft board you will graduate may 15. , you will be drafted by june 1. my dad was a world war ii vet. my brother was patriotic. there was no way he was going to deny going into the draft. that was the talk around our dinner table. he was in college in his hometown. girlfriends and boyfriends knew that they were going.
the draft was up and running. and a thousand were dying every week. the campuses were in an uproar. we didn't talk about race but we need to add that into it as well. the country was coming apart and particularly over this issue and particularly with the students over the draft. and the key figures coming out -- the casualty figures coming out of vietnam. >> that's our line for democrats. we have a line for independents. joining us, barbara perry, the director of presidential studies and pat buchanan. >> i have a brother who went over to vietnam with the 101st airborne. he went over in january just in time for the tet offensive.
you are right, even before when i was in st. louis as a journalist in 1965, i was speaking on behalf of, in favor of johnson's policies. it was not violent by then but there were -- there was a real hostility and i remember the march, i would go down and talk to some of his kids before they became violent. the war was the major issue going on but i will say dr. king was assassinated, 100 cities in my hometown here, it was partly burnt down, 14th street. they had marines and armed troops in the city. so the law and order and the war in vietnam became the issues.
host: and that is my next question. to try to put this in perspective you have president , johnson who narrowly won the primary march 12 and then you had kennedy entering the race on the 16th here at lbj drops out and then dr. king's assassinated on the fourth always in a four-week time. guest: it is hard to comprehend for people now to see what was compacted into a months time. to think the country seemed to be coming apart. a personal and note, my dad who was a lifelong democrat was saying i am fearful about what is happening in the streets. and voted for nixon in 1968 if he thought he was the lawn order -- he thought he was the law and order man would bring law and order back and bring the country together interestingly enough. the other thing about vietnam, the united states won the
tet offensive and to see that movement into the south, it was so fearsome to the american people. to see that in their living rooms, we want to talk about the role of the media because pat is telling us great stories about how the nixon administration, the campaign knew how to use media by 1968. people were seeing this in their living rooms. guest: cronkite in february had gone over to vietnam and he came back and said we are mired in a stalemate. i think many in the american elite media had really broken and decided it was not a winnable war. they tended to move at that point and by the time nixon took over, they would move heavily into the camp and we've always thought of them as really the
demonstrators by 1969. there is something else in march that you do not have. it was stunning for us. you had picture dwight chapin in a room and i think it was the , 21st of march or something when rockefeller was going to announce for president and nixon told us he did not like to watch them on television. you guys watch and tell me what they said and and will get our reaction. i went and said rockefeller is not running and he dropped out. that is where nixon got the year of the dropout statement. we had to clear a path of the nomination. the revolution in 1968 was largely contained in the gigantic -- gigantic fdr coalition in that party. george wallace was a populist
southerner, pro-segregation. he was ripping the democratic this is the part. humphrey and johnson were by then the center of the party. bobby kennedy had moved dramatically to the left and gene mccarthy and george mcgovern, that wing of the party, all three were going to be represented in chicago. host: the governor was a rockefeller supporter. >> he brought in reporters, he announced it for three weeks and he is waiting and he calls in the reporters and he announced he would have a major role in it. he went up and said i'm not running. he was left with egg all over his face and we caught him on the first and nixon was on the
phone, come on up, governor and talk to us, and he came up and we will get to it i am sure but he was dead he ran in 19 66, a he was a democrat who opposed open housing. agnew was seen as something of a liberal governor, except for the riots where he was , very hard line. >> rockefeller thought he still might have a chance and was going around saying support me and went to agnew and said i am not doing this again. >> governor schaefer of pennsylvania, i think it was -- he was covering us and it was a beer commercial in those days, that if schaefer -- schaefer is the one beer to have if you are having only one. [laughter]
host: democrats line. >> good morning, thank you for taking my call. i want to think god for c-span. when we understand the content of this country being created. it fills us with pride and compassion and understanding. america stands as a guardian of freedom. i appreciated, thank you. >> a comment, not a question. >> i will comment on that very optimistic view of 1968. pat has already explained what is happening in the democratic party, the democratic party was
coming apart. our constitution and government. >> in an interview with james jones, who was a longtime aide to lbj, he said he traveled with president johnson on the afternoon of march 31, went to vice president humphrey's apartment, told to read the speech, said he wasn't going to run for reelection. the president said if you are going to run you need to start now and he reportedly said, i lost to one kennedy and i'm going to lose to another. vice president humphrey did not allow its -- did not announce until a month after lbj said he
would not seek another term. >> we felt rockefeller didn't get in because nixon would have crushed him and all the primaries. humphrey may have delayed until then. bobby kennedy was not jack kennedy. he didn't have the charm, the charisma about him. by then he had moved to the left. i felt, i always felt even after california and bobby kennedy won that when they got to chicago humphrey would take it. he had the machine put together for him. he had a president behind him and all these other folks. i thought he would win it and did not know that he was that apprehensive that he could beat robert kennedy. >> it is one of those what-ifs of history. when bobby kennedy died, hubert
humphrey had already amassed 500 delegates. gene mccarthy, 258. for what was left of the new deal coalition, humphrey had the people behind him. he had the rank-and-file of the party. it is unlikely that even if robert kennedy have lived, it is unlike the that he would have eaten humphrey. also remember how desperately -- devastated he was that he wasn't going to run. he understands that meeting at his apartment after johnson announcement -- johnson announce he was in tears about it. he was also ambivalent that he wasn't going to bash the president he was serving. that, in the end, is, in part what caused humphrey to lose the race. >> and down the street is where robert f kennedy made
his announcement on march the 16th 1968. >> there is speculation that this is opportunism on your part. mccarthy had the courage to going to new hampshire. believe --d, i don't do i have to repeat that? 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 has gone into the new hampshire primary. as i said, i have spoken on these issues and these questions for a number of years and how i feel about them. i think it was generally
accepted if i had gone into the primary new hampshire, whether i won the new hampshire primary or if i had done well in the primary in new hampshire, it would have been felt at that time it was a personal struggle. every time i've spoken on what i think needs to be done in vietnam, it has been put in the context of a personal struggle between myself and president johnson. therefore, we would get away from what the issues are, which divides this country. i think the new hampshire primary established that the division that exist in this country, the democratic party, are there. i have not brought that about. what brought that about the policies of president johnson. as far as what is happening at
the moment, i can't believe that anybody thinks that this is a pleasant struggle from now on or that i am asking for a free ride. i have five months ahead of me. i'm going to go into primaries. i am going to present my case to the american people all across the country. host: pat buchanan, that was two -- 40's after the primary and -- four days after the primary and that was two weeks before lbj dropped out. pat: the allegation about opportunism -- i remember that murray at "the new york post" really admired bobby kennedy. he said that what bobby kennedy is doing proved st. patrick's did not drive all the snakes out of ireland. it was rough on bobby kennedy. people forget that bobby kennedy was ruthless on lbj in the interim. he accused johnson of appealing to the darker impulses of the american spirit. i have a memo that i sent to nixon, i said this is astounding
how ruthless he is on the president, because we assumed the president was going to stay in. and of course, mr. nixon said, keep gathering that. we've got better quotes than that. i think mr. nixon thought we might end up with robert kennedy as the candidate and we would have another kennedy run. as i said, i always thought that humphrey had a great depth inside the democratic party from that 48 convention. he was mr. civil rights. he had put the civil rights act on the floor of the senate and run it through for lbj. he had labor. he could bring together the antiwar groups -- as eventually he did -- along with the center of the democratic party. the wallace groups in the deep south. -- deep south were gone. host: robert from maryland. go ahead, please.
caller: good morning. i am a vietnam veteran and i do not think that mr. nixon gets the credit he deserves. even though i voted most of the time with democrats, i think nixon was a very good president, but 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 -- epa -- nixon was a very good president. just those three things overshadow his presidency. host: thank you for the call. barbara perry. barbara: we now look back at the -- at nixon, and i think nixon thought of himself as 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 have not talked about his entrance into the mix, but i'm sure we will, and rockefeller on the left side of the party. when we look back at richard
nixon's terms in office, we can see a number of things he did that people on the liberal side now say good for him. pat: i would call nixon that a -- call nixon a progressive republican. there were 31,000 dead when nixon came into office, but the gentleman said he was for nixon but did not vote for him. but he is exactly right. the american people agreed with the gentleman. richard nixon after all won 49 states in 1972, over 61% of the vote. and senator mcgovern was an antiwar candidate. nixon's policy of getting out of vietnam, but giving the vietnamese a fighting chance to survive on their own as a free and independent country, by in large, even though it was protested by hundreds of thousands in the streets here, was a policy supported by the
american people and obviously reported in 1972 with that landslide. host: you mentioned reagan. he traveled to iowa in the fall of 1967. here is what governor reagan said back then. governor reagan: you know the one way to make sure crime does not 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] governor reagan: he has his troubles. there's bobby kennedy. bobby has him so nervous about the upcoming convention, he is
thinking about putting the country in his wife's name. [laughter] [applause] governor reagan: bobby is just trying to be helpful. he said he wanted a johnson-humphrey ticket, but he did not say where two. every time he offers to help, a voice from the white house says, please bobby, we would rather lose it. [laughter] he is one of those rare people, bobby is, who can say exactly the right thing at the right time to the wrong person. [laughter] if it seems like i am picking unduly on the opposition, please note that i am picking on the leadership of the democratic party because i am sure there are millions of fine, patriotic members of that party your -- party who are deeply disturbed with what has happened in the nation's capital as we move from 1960 and the new frontier to the great society. they know the great society is not the wave of the future. it is the end of an era, a dismal rehash of the methods in the language in the philosophy of the past. host: from october 1967. vintage ronald reagan.
pat: i am honored to have worked as the gipper's communications director many years later. but, that was the candidate i was most afraid of in the republican primaries. it was in nelson rockefeller. -- it wasn't nelson rockefeller. it was the possibility ronald reagan would get into the race, given his personality, his conservative views, and the likability of him that he could really stand those goldwater delegates and pull the nomination away from richard nixon. i never believed rockefeller could get it after what he did to barry goldwater in 1954. -- 1964. republicans would have walked out if rockefeller had been nominated. host: explain the reagan candidacy or possible candidacy in 1960 eight. -- 1968. what was he thinking? was the on the ballot? was he a serious contender for the white house? barbara: what is fascinating for him, for that clip for to kill -- for that clip particularly, the facility had with the audience and as a speaker, and that goes back to his days as an announcer for baseball where he
-- he was getting the baseball game over the wire, but explaining as if he was at the game. he had a great facility for telling anecdotes. he was a hollywood actor. but he had made this interesting journey -- he kind of represented the country in that sense -- he made the journey from a new deal roosevelt democrat, the head of the screen actors guild, a prounion man, do -- to becoming more conservative as he worked for ge and out of the banquet circuit for general electric. that is where he picked up the facility for the banquet speech and the political speech. it's very clear to business people and conservatives in california that he is the real air -- are to the bachelor he is the real air to goldwater, and he came on the scene -- particularly him politics -- from that great speech in 1960 four supporting goldwater, and he ends up in 1968 as this right-wing challenge to richard nixon.
pat: i believe -- and you know, because of the letters of nixon and reagan, which i have copies of -- that there was a deal cut at bohemian grove in 1967 where nixon and reagan talked. where nixon told reagan, look, give me the first shot at romney and the liberal establishment in new hampshire, and if by wisconsin i have not succeeded really well, then you come in. there was a lot of exchange, trying to have a meeting with reagan in new orleans. he knocked on the door where he was staying and came in and reagan was riding and his people were calling nixon in saying we did that is my belief.
there were reagan people -- they brought him into oregon -- he got 22%, we got 70%, rockefeller got 5% of the vote out there in oregon in the primary the 20th of may. barbara: their hope was they could draw enough delegate votes away that if nixon did not win on the first ballot, right -- pat: if they started going to reagan, the rockefeller people would go to nixon. they started going to rockefeller. [laughter] so, we were a good second ballot. host: did richard nixon consider ronald reagan as his running mate even though they were both in california? pat: let me tell you. we had staff in new york, and in those days, you could not close the six-point gap, and at some points nixon was behind humphrey in the polls by six points in a -- and a number number of us got together and sent reagan and nixon a memo and said you've got to put reagan on the ticket. ray price and i got in a violent argument over a vice president -- there was talk of losing in
-- lit lindsay, in the same state. but whether nixon was going to have to roll the dice and make a choice, a dramatic choice, and if you were going to do that, they thought it should be reagan. but once the polls show nixon ahead, you go with the moderate choice. host: we have barbara perry and pat buchanan, a nixon aide in 1967 and 1968. thank you for waiting. caller: yes, i have a comment and a question directed to pat buchanan. i have a long-held belief that had nixon won in 1960, he would have been a better candidate or a better president than he wound up being in 1968.
and had he won in 1960, what does pat buchanan think nixon would have done during his presidency following his election in 1960? host: thank you. another what if. pat: it's hard to know. jackie kennedy's great moment was the cuban missile crisis. i do not know how nixon would have handled that. nixon was a small c conservative. i do not think he would have launched the bay of pigs. you cannot know these things. of course, there would never have been a great society. in that sense, a lot of what nixon did was very progressive, and when he got in, in his mid-50's, he did not repeal the great society at all. barbara: and let that another to your what if, what if nixon had met with crew chef in indiana --
khrushchev in indiana in 1961? it might have been a different bay of pigs. wouldn't it have been interesting to see khrushchev and nixon in the in a in a physics to want? historians think that because kennedy did not have such a good outing, that helped precipitate the missile crisis. pat: yes, but chris jeff having -- but khrushchev having met nixon in the kitchen in 1969 did not like nixon. two other pilots had gone over russian territory. he told folks -- he did not want to do something that nixon could claim credit for. but i think you are right.
khrushchev mistrusted kennedy. i think he took the measure of him has week. he made a great mistake. host: what was nixon's reactions about the night that kennedy was assassinated? pat: i got a call from headquarters. jeff bell, who just died -- he was in his mid-20's -- he called me at my apartment and i was asleep. he woke me up and said, bobby kennedy has just been shot, and i called nixon and he said, i'm already up. julie and david, i think, had been watching the race, so they had woken him up. one week before that, i was in oregon when nixon won.
he swept it, as i mentioned, 70%, and he went down to dinner. i went with my girlfriend, now my wife, because bobby kennedy coming up from california to concede the race. we saw bobby get out of the car. he had the dog with him and teddy white, i remember telling folks that was the bobby kennedy i had not seen. he was at his most gracious. his concession speech was just as it was everything you would expect. he said now let's get on to california. barbara: think how hard it was for him to give that speech. the first kennedy -- ever to lose an election. i heard that he was very down.
host: what was going through the country after the assassination of kennedy? barbara: horrible shock. as you can imagine. and imagine this, just two months after martin luther king's assassination. here our political leaders, our social activists are being gunned down. bobby kennedy, ironically, had been the person to rise up on that night. they were campaigning for the indiana primary and he gets the word, as he gets into indianapolis, going to speak with an indianapolis segment and he tells the people, gives one of the best speeches ever and -- in political history in the united states. it is off the cuff, he has no scripts, he does not say the thoughts and prayers are with
the family. you can hear the gas -- gasps in the audience. indianapolis is the only major city not to go up in flames. i have written a biography of his mother. and his mother said if this had been a story, a work of fiction that this family would lose two of its sons, i would not believe it. it was incomprehensible, that level of violence. host: gabe, from northport, new york. thank you for waiting. caller: i want to say thank you to mr. buchanan for all of the hard work and everything he is -- has committed his life to. i used to enjoy watching them on maclachlan. that was a great show. i would like to ask two quick questions. this is more towards current events.
i was curious -- when you look at the vietnam war and some of the bigger mistake that were made -- this is to pat -- are we making some of those same mistakes in afghanistan after we have been there for 17 years? also, i'm curious what you think about syria. and the situation, coming in after the kurds. thank you. host: you're breaking up, but we get the essence of the question. pat: i think we made the mistake in the middle east that, frankly, we made in vietnam. that was that we went through without thinking through what the end of this intervention would be, and the idea that we can turn afghanistan into a quasi-western country once you
overthrew the regime in iraq, that we could work that out -- i -- worked at all outs when many of the people didn't know what was happening going in, but i agree with the gentleman in general. he said that movement into the middle east militarily was the worst diplomatic blunder in american history. host: because of the vietnam war, barbara, when did president johnson begin to think he would not serve another full-term? barbara: i think it was after the tet offensive that he realizes our forces, one that the battle. i will use a crudity that is easy to find among johnson for comments -- she said if we pull back in vietnam and halt the bombing, and remember that speech he gave, withdrawing from the race in march was also to announce a halt to the bombing in the north -- but he said later on he had to restart it in the summer. he said i pulled back in vietnam. he said ho chi minh drives a
truck on my ass. he could not find the answer because there was no answer. between that and what he saw on the campuses, and the students circling the white house, chanting "hey, hey, lbj, how many kids did you kill today?" the answer was, 1000 americans were dying a week. i think the combination of that -- the combination of -- i think he's said genuinely in that speech, look, i do know what to be taking time out on the political stump when i have all of these other problems for the country i need to address. and the personal issue -- men in his family died young. he had already had two serious coronaries and the 1950's and barely lived after what would have been his second full term. he died in january of 1973. so imagine with the stress of being in that office, he very well could have died in office.
from the stress. host: george, republican line, go ahead, please. caller: good morning and thank you for c-span. i volunteered for the draft. i know the focus of the show is on 1968 and the turmoil that occurred there, but my question is -- 50 years from now, i think you could be doing another show on 2018, 2019, the trump presidency and the turmoil that this is creating. in 1968, i think we had consciousness throughout the nation of the constitution, the united states of america -- yes, they were in the colleges, you had colombia and all of that, but there was more intelligence about it, and there's a lot of emotion. today, as i look at the march on washington, sorry to say it, but
this is the march of the know nothings. they have a lot of emotion, but very little intelligence. everything is phrases. so i would like pat to comment. also i was not one of your pitchfork people, but i have always appreciated your comments on crossfire and all of that. host: we will get a response. thanks for the call. pat: thanks very much. i agree with the gentleman. i mentioned i was at the teachings of washington university in 1965. when i went out there, the young people questioned me. they knew the history of vietnam. back in the french, and before then. what we were doing, the agreements in geneva, they knew what we were doing. they were extremely intelligent. later on, i spoke at kent state and they were just emotional, and i would agree about yesterday. but the kids seem full of
passion and emotion and caught up in not a great deal of thought, frankly. i can understand the passion and the immediate aftermath of that killing down there in broward county. so much passion. as though we can wave a magic wand and put an into the school killings, and we can't do it. i think the generation does -- you can never know exactly, but the generation, i think, of the 1960's, the early to midnight in 60's was intelligent in a lot of ways, even on the liberal side. it was mature. it where it was going -- it's a new where it was going. it had a lot of ideas. some of the guys at columbia, i put out a statement.
[laughter] denounced of them for a takeover institution. barbara: we should thank the color for his service. and for volunteering for the draft. my brother is a vietnam vet. i'm very supportive of the veterans. i am always a little leery, particularly as a teacher and longtime professor of american government, it is a sign of aging to look back to a golden age and say, oh, this new generation does not know anything. i think what this new generation knows is they do have passion, of course. those that went through that whole or in florida, several weeks ago, they also know social media. they know how to organize. they know how to be cynically engaged. i think we did have better civic education that would have taught the baby boomers and they were 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 was subject to the draft. but i do have hope for this generation. and i'm glad they are taking part. i am glad they are cynically engaged. i would like a little bit more education. pat: in 68, i don't think we can go back to 68 because what took place was not only this political revolution, nixon putting together this new majority, but the wallace vote pulling off the catholics from humphrey, but socially, culturally, morally, racially, every other way, it was a huge cultural revolution going on in those years, which i think has ultimately prevailed in the society and created divisions which exists and and you are -- endure to this day and well today is not as violent as 68, which was a horrendously violent year, we have a country where it is hard for me to understand how it comes together again.
those of us that grew up in the jfk era, -- i mean i was a critic of jfk. i read them now. i was a tough editorial. they were very mild. host: what happened to senator eugene mccarthy after the assassination of robert kennedy? barbara: what happened -- i listed where he stood on the delegate count at the time the robert -- that robert kennedy won the california primary and sadly was assassinated, he was running a distant third. so, he became disaffected in the race. it became clearer as they got 'closer and closer to chicago that humphrey had the rank and fall -- the rank and file of the democrats. he had mayor humphrey on his size -- on his side. we mentioned george mcgovern. he was drafted by some of the
pro-kennedy forces. even though robert kennedy was gone, there was another person in the race. he became embittered by what happened to him -- he waited until very, very late in the game. pat: when i ran against the president george h.w. bush, in new hampshire, iran into -- i ran into mccarthy. he said, don't worry, pat. you don't have to win, you just have to beat the point spread. [laughter] host: democrats line. caller: yes, i am also a veteran. the thing that i think caused nixon to win was that he had a cause. a couple of my friends died in vietnam as a result of it. what it was, the draft just turned everybody away from the thoughts that we were going to have anything other than a war for the rest of our lives.
host: thank you, larry. pat: you know, the draft -- when i went with nixon, i had come out and decided you have to do away with the draft because the country was coming apart and secondarily because we were beginning to draft people that in the barracks would have been seditious. they were so antiwar at the time that in order to fight the war, you probably are going to have two and the draft. nixon talked to eisenhower and i wrote nixon the memo and said, people are liable to say we are doing this to let folks who are against the war not have to serve, and that's a bad thing,
and nixon wrote on it, "ike thinks so too. i did not want that draft ended." i will tell you else push for. a libertarian who joined us in 1967, martin anderson, one of the young nixon aides. host: john from austin texas, go ahead, you are next. >> thank you for both of the panelists for the discussion today. it is very good. i have got two questions. the first is how are you a view -- how do you view the democratic party now versus 1968? it seems to me that a lot of people who do not really love this country have taken over the leadership of the democratic party. my other question is a what if question. i usually stay away with them but with the two panelist today, i think it is appropriate to ask. the what if question is, how do you think things would have worked out at reagan had been elected in 1968 instead of 1980?
host: let's take the democratic party, barbara perry? barbara: to pat's point a few moments ago, we come out of 1968 so polarized and to his point about now, i think that polarization is ossified within our system and parties. you do not see the big tent party's had had in this country for years because we only had two major parties and they tended to be big tent parties, and typically they were taken -- they would take in people from different parts of the political spectrum. we see that polarization to this day in the democratic party and republican party. i do not accept the people in the democratic party leaders in rank-and-file are un-american. i do not see that at all.
they just have a different view of the america they want to support. host: to follow up on that state of the democratic party in 1968, how strongly was johnson supporting humphrey? was he focused on politics or vietnam? barbara: the problem for johnson was even if he had supported him to the hilt, he could not campaign for him because it was too dangerous. the secret service did not want him to go on college campuses, which was another reason he thought, i cannot run myself, so he wasn't able to go on the stump and do much campaigning for him. i think may be as much as eisenhower did not go full for nixon in 1960. he also had tension with humphrey over the war. host: ronald reagan, if he had won in 1968, a what is question -- what if question? pat: i think he would have gone for vietnam.
one thing johnson did for humphrey in the last week, i think on october 31, clear a bombing halt in vietnam and people forget humphrey at the beginning of october was -- by the time the race ended, it was 43-all. much of the wallace vote in the north moved to humphrey. he had a tremendous campaign. the bombing halt almost put humphrey over. the south vietnamese president declined to come to paris for the meeting. and that was the cause of a great controversy. with regard to reagan, he was younger. that is a different reagan than in 1985, which would have been 20 years on. i think reagan would have gone for victory in vietnam and all -- all-out bombing and used american power and no limits in
cambodia or laos. host: in late september, vice president humphrey travels to salt lake city to do what? barbara: he gives a speech in which he finally comes out against the johnson policy on the vietnam war and he speaks in favor of peace and going to peace talks and the americanization of the war. some people think if he had just done that earlier because as pat said, he was coming out strong in the end on part because of johnson's decision, but he also -- but you also made a reference to the president of south vietnam. there is a great book called chasing shadows about the back channeling being done between the nixon campaign and president of south korea about the peace talks. pat: that is a matter of controversy. [laughter] host: george, illinois, go ahead. republican line. caller: good morning.
i have a question of mr. buchanan and ms. perry concerning president johnson's tardiness in supporting hubert humphrey in 1968. i am wondering if -- another what if question again -- but what if the president had come out sooner for humphrey? barbara: indeed, there will always be this historical what if, what if humphrey had -- and i think it was against his
personality because he was such a joyful and positive and loyal character that it was hard to turn against his president. i think it is possibly the case that if he had come out sooner and drawn the people who work -- who were supportive of mccarthy and the anti-war activists, supporters of robert kennedy, the far left fringe he was not going to get. they were going to be against them, as indicated in chicago, but if he had come out earlier against the johnson policy, maybe humphrey would have gotten what he needed in the popular vote, but as pat knows, and nixon so flooded him on the left for college vote it is hard to -- on the electoral college vote it is hard to put together. host: which brings us to this, the 1968 electoral map. you can see a different country back then with republicans winning states like california, and the upper midwest, and democrats winning texas and midwestern new england.
and then there is george wallace in the south. pat: he got five states. at one point he had seven. he had both carolinas i think. he took those states away. one of the reasons nixon picked agnew and there was a tough line on riots, and down in cambridge when they burned that town down and stokely carmichael came to baltimore -- as a matter of fact, humphrey was gaining. we were campaigning on long island. i went to the president and said, mr. nixon, i am not doing any good here. we had the same old message. let me go out, i can help agnew. we went to win that area. so i do think that hubert humphrey, if he had moved earlier, he would have done better. one reason is, his campaign from september to the salt lake city
speech was be doubled -- bedevilled everywhere and it stumped them with obscene comments, and he got to the point himself that he was denouncing fascism out here, and he was being denounced in massachusetts with tenney get -- teddy kennedy. when he delivered that salt lake city speech, it turned for humphrey and he moved up the hill at a tremendous clip. i remember going to nixon and saying we have to attack humphrey to drive the wedge back through the party because it is coming together. we did not do a thing. [laughter] host: who was george wallace? barbara: what a colorful character. pat and i were talking before the show and said he used to speak with him. he was a populist. eventually a segregationist. 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 ptsd from his service in the pacific.
he was a bantamweight fighter, and by the late 1950's, when he lost in 1958, i will not use the "n" word, but he said he would not be "out-n'ed" by another person again. so he turned toward the anti-civil rights you and he brings that to the 1968 campaign. not to think he was not going to win. he knew he probably would not carry any states outside the south but he thought he could be the broker if there was not an electoral majority for the two major candidates. pat: but here is the thing. wallace had come out in 1964 and he had run in democratic primaries and done well in wisconsin, indiana, and maryland. wallace got the majority of the white vote in the democratic primary in 1964 and lbj was president.
then he comes in 1968 and announces a third-party run. what he did then was -- i mean, he was not only a segregationist. he got that vote, but he was also a real populist. he was bashing students and demonstrators. i know some four-letter words, too, but i got to know him after i left nixon. i got to know him, and i went to alabama, and i would speak 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 they said, the governor would like to speak to you. and i would go to his office and we would tell old stories of the
campaigns and how he did against lindsay. [laughter] we used to talk trash on reporters. he was quite a guy. later in his life, he sort of felt badly about a lot of the things he had done. 1963, it was segregation today, tomorrow, forever! barbara: and standing in the schoolhouse door in 1963 as kennedy tried to integrate the campus in alabama. pat: i think it was choreographed. he nationalized the guard and then he stepped aside. [laughter] everybody got what they wanted. barbara: and it worked for him politically. his big mistake was infusing curtis lemay, the air force general, as his vice presidential nominee, who was
making comments -- pat: 1968. he came out and asked, what about nuclear weapons? he said, people are too find -- frightened about these things. we tested them out and every thing was fine. although, the sand crabs were hotter. barbara: lemay was saying, let's do it! host: pat buchanan is the author of "the greatest comeback: how richard nixon rose from defeat to create the new majority," joining us with the residential of director of studies at the miller center, barbara perry. andy from kentucky, go ahead. caller: i would like to thank mr. buchanan because he has been a good servant for the united states and i take my hat off to you. my question is, i was born in 1962. i am 55 now. i love politics. do you think there will be any more conservative democrats? i know there were some back then, and i know there are still some out there.
do you think there are any that will rise in the future? pat: socially, culturally, no. i think we saw this out in illinois with a democrat. i think on social and cultural moral issues, the democratic party made its move. the fact that they lost this -- they lost the entire south, which kept them to a degree conservative, i do not think you will ever see it. i think younger americans, the millennials seem to me -- well, the majority seem to me to be of the left. i think the democratic party is going to be pulled to the left, a real danger for it in the coming election, i think, is that the left nominates a candidate in this sense the way they did in 1972 when they nominated mcgovern and pulled
the party so far to the left that nixon was centrist, progressive republican, with a hard line on law and order, and gave him 49 states. republicans are not going to win 49 states ever again. barbara: we will see in the midterms and i would say maybe someone a conor lamb, as conservative as the democrats go, but it was interesting in choice and a successful one. i will say that the caller is from the hometown of one of my political mentors of ford, who became the majority whip in the senate, and a conservative democrat from kentucky. now there are no such things because kentucky is a red, republican state, and in has republicans not only throughout
the senate delegation but through the house delegation itself. pat: i went to the politics in 1966 and there was one republican senator in the confederacy, john tyler, and you got that as a result of lbj as vice president. we had howard baker in 1966 and tennessee but now the reverse is true. host: raymond from ohio, independent line. guest: how do we go from 1968 at kent state. we didn't have social media back then, but how did people organize? host: interesting question. barbara: how did we go from 1968 to 1970 at kent state and the answer is nixon opening up the cambodian front in the vietnam war. and that is to invade cambodia to try and stop the flow of men and materiel from the north into the south and to be used against the united states forces in south vietnam. with the announcement of that in april 1970, the campuses explode again, particularly can state. -- kent state. there is a peaceful demonstration, but the guardsmen opened fire and several are killed.
that is another opened wound for the united states to deal with. how did these people organize? i watched a documentary last night about the civil rights movement, martin luther king and the media, and without social media, the way to get to the media in those days -- social media is a misnomer -- media is supposed to be between the government and the people. but now we are the media, but it was about how to reach the media in the nixon campaign. how to do good work to get people out when you have a rally or demonstration. it was word-of-mouth. telephones. telegrams. and hardcopy letters. pat: i wrote the cambodian invasion speech for nixon. it was very dramatic.
i think it was april 1, 1970, and what happened was they did have riots out at kent, and that is why the national guard was called in by governor rhodes. he made a rough speech on sunday and monday and the students were up there approaching the guardsmen. they foolishly had live ammunition in their rifles. but they shot -- i think four died and five more wounded. i remember, i was home, i did not feel well. and allen called and said there are four kids shot at kent state. i said, where is it? word runaround -- word went around. nixon came closer to being broken by something than any time i had ever seen in that month of april. that is the time he had left the white house on the friday after kent state and went to the lincoln memorial at 4:00 in the morning, where students were gathering. he went down and put someone in the speaker's chair, and in the
early hours, he was moved by what happened there. the white house was divided to -- was invited -- was divided. most white house aides did not want the invasion of cambodia or like it, and urged nixon to go much further an accommodating the students. that was the roughest time of his presidency in the first term. host: we are looking at 1968, beginning with eugene mccarthy's decision to seek the democratic nomination in fall of 1957. -- 1967. we will look at the timeline as a listen to garrett from florida. caller: good morning. thank you both. i would just like to ask or have you comment on the johnson campaign. that was by congressman in legislatures, and may be in particular allen k lowenstein.
host: thank you. barbara: sure. i mentioned a little while ago that johnson was bouncing down into the low 30's and approval ratings and that they will get the attention of a party like low approval ratings for the president and congress. that is part of the dump nixon movement. you mentioned alan lowenstein. he was pushing robert kennedy to join the race as an anti-war candidate. one thing we have not mentioned that came out in ted kennedy's oral history at the miller center, he came after 40 years in the senate, and he told the ied to gobeing deput out to the midwest to speak to eugene mccarthy and say, bobby is considering getting in the race, but if you will put this at the top of your agenda, in
addition to anti-war, looking into poverty that bobby kennedy had embraced at this point, bobby will reconsider getting into the race. according to ted kennedy, mccarthy said no, anti-war is at the top of my platform. that was the movement of lowenstein trying to get bobby into the race. pat: lowenstein tried to get a number of people. mcgovern said, go talk to gene mccarthy. [laughter] host: donna from st. louis, missouri. caller: good morning. i have a question for pat. first, i was an independent and went to california and was a delegate in 2000 and i had a nice chat with brian lamb while i was there, a great experience. there was a time when i supported the vietnam war in the
mid-1960's. i was in high school and graduated in 1966. you knew it was unwinnable with all the chinese pouring in, as they did in korea. why did we not handle vietnam like truman handled korea? i have always wondered that. pat: well, with truman, korea drove truman out of the white house. it was general eisenhower who came in and decided that we are not going for victory, and you had a dmz, where two armies were lined up, and he threatened the chinese and he got an armistice. in vietnam, you had a bunch of different stories. the chinese actually were not in vietnam. the north vietnamese are in the south. it is a very good question. looking back, and obviously, anyone who has been involved -- i was not there, but i was writing speeches in the white
house and working for nixon as an aide before he ran but you have to ask yourself afterwards, the vietnam war compost a lot of good things and held the line in southeast asia and this countries did not move toward communism from indonesia and did -- but moved to the west. but should we have gone in in the first place? host: barbara perry, was richard nixon undercutting the johnson administration in trying to keep the war going through the election of 1968, saying, you will get a better deal with me? barbara: that is what the historical literature says about that question. but i will pass it over to pat because i think he was there and will know the answer. but the historians are saying, yes, that indeed, nixon was back channeling with anna chennault, who was the widow of the general from world war ii, and was the go between, according to historian literature now, between the nixon campaign south
-- camp and the south vietnamese, encouraging the president of south vietnam to hold off in peace talks and get a better deal under nixon. remember, nixon was saying that he had a plan to end the war so he was being public about that but i will let pat address the behind-the-scenes issues. pat: i do not credit what recent authors have said about this. i was with nixon and i had nothing to do with it. i saw him that saturday before the election and a friend of mine had called john sears and said, michigan is gone and we are down three nationally in the harris poll. we were in tough shape. there are reasons why i don't say this. first, the president of south vietnam did not need anyone to tell him that richard nixon was going to take a harder line than
hubert humphrey after he said he would halt the bombing as soon as he was elected. secondly, if there was a signal sent, where are the tapes that lbj, who wiretapped planes, people, why didn't the president of south vietnam say, the reason i did this was this? none of these main actors were questioned but they came forward to validate the suggestion that nixon told mitchell or someone to tell mrs. chennault to tell the president of south vietnam, do not go, you will get a better deal from nixon. this is not a dumb man. i do not believe that came up. one fellow had wrote a book recently and said nixon told holloman when he heard about the bombing, throw a monkeywrench into this. he used that phrase all the time about everything. [laughter] i just do not validate it. barbara: i do not know if there are tapes of wiretaps that there
are president johnson talking about this issue that you can listen to and he told humphrey this was happening and he refused to release it. pat: humphrey said he did not believe it. host: from maryland, phil, go ahead. good morning. caller: good morning. thank you for having ms. perry and mr. buchanan on. i appreciate that. my comment is, i was a history student at the university of maryland in 1968. the college campus behavior 50 years ago was quite different than it is today. many points of view were listed -- were listened to and
tolerated. today, it seems to be that college campus behavior is much more progressive, and anyone who disagrees is silenced. pat: i agree 100%. as i say, i was out there teaching. they would hear our view. they did not 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. today, you get a real sense of intolerance and the sense we have found the truth and we do not want to hear anymore and certain forms of dissent are racist, bigoted, and homophobic, things like that. goes to the idea that one side in the cultural war is evil and there was only one good side. host: two final points, a headline from the smithsonian website. 1968, when nixon said, socket to -- sock it to me. television was never the same. it was brief, only five seconds. listen carefully. [video clip] >> sock it to me.
[laughter] host: why was this significant? pat: because nixon basically was considered stiff and not with it. that was a progressive-type show. i do not think it was a good idea. a very good friend of nixon persuaded him to do it. barbara: pat says he was considered uptight and stiff and sweaty from 1960 in the debates with kennedy, so going on a hip and happening show, saying sock it to me, is a turning point for politicians to go into popular culture. host: the lessons from 1968, barbara perry? what are they? barbara: i think we touched on some already. they are this increasing polarization that i think has kicked off the polarization today in the parties and in
today's culture, making -- pat has made reference to cultural wars. we still see those today. i also think that there is a linkage between 1964 and airy -- barry goldwater and his brand of populism was brought to the reagan years and nixon to some extent with movement conservatism. all the way up to donald trump. i think we see the seeds of the democratic left and republican right and democratic populism and republican populism to this day. pat: i think that is true. goldwater laid this foundation of a powerful conservative movement that captured the party but not the country. nixon picks up that movement and brought the republican party together and picked up the two pieces of the democratic party, the northern catholics and southern protestants. and created a new majority that won the republicans five out of six presidential elections after
1964, which was astounding considering the defeat. in the democratic party, g -- gene mccarthy, bobby kennedy, mcgovern, they would capture the party and nominate mcgovern in 1972. i think what you have subsequent to 1968, that year we really crossed the continental divide, and we have never been able to get back over it, i think, and it is because it involves more than politics. it involves fundamental beliefs about rights, wrong, good, evil, and justice and injustice. there is very little upon which you find in americans -- that americans really agree on these days. host: for your insight, perspective men stories, barbara perry, and pat buchanan, thank you. pat: good to see you, friend. barbara: our pleasure. announcer: next sunday, we continue our series 1968, the
year in turmoil, focusing on the civil rights and race relations. martin luther king and his assassination. black power, and the kerner commission report. that is next sunday, april thirst, live it 8:30 eastern. >> next on the presidency, we ,ear about george washington the first president, the first americans, and the birth of the nation. he explains that washington first interacted with native american tribes during the seven years war, and was the first to recognize their importance to the survival and growth of the young nation. george washington university hosted this event. it is 90 minutes. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] [captig