tv The Presidency President Nixons Drug Abuse Initiatives CSPAN July 21, 2018 12:00pm-1:36pm EDT
>> our cities tour staff recently traveled to alaska to learn about its rich history. learn about alaska and other stops on our tour. you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. next, if panel of nixon era officials revisit the drug initiatives. they discuss law enforcement strategy and even the president's famous meeting with elvis presley. the national archives and the richard nixon foundation cohosted this event. it's an hour and half.
grandma it's a pleasure to welcome you here for our next and legacy forums. welcome to those of you attending in person at the national archives building in washington dc. also those of you joining us on our youtube channel. we started doing these in 2010 and put on three dozen programs, policyeatured public initiatives undertaken by the nixon administration. let these programs add are an insider explanation to the discussions and debate behind those documents by the very people who created them, which provide insights to the policy development implementation process.
what we are adding today is the ability to electronically retrieve the documents from the archives which will be posted on our website at the same time as the video of today's presentation. we will be working with the nixon foundation to make these documents available to future researchers and scholars. today's presentation is entitled no final victories, lessons from president nixon's drug abuse initiatives. and we're going to hear from him several people from both the treatment and law enforcement side who were involved in responses of the nixon administration to the spread of heroin addiction in our inner cities in the late 1960's. the essence of the issue, heroin had been -- has been a scorch to
-- a scourge to society ever since it was first developed as a treatment for morphine addiction by bayer in 1948. they had heroin addiction on the run when we lost focus for our opioids are a continuing threat that can never be eliminated. please let me introduce our moderator, geoff shepard. he joined the nixon administration as a fellow in 1969 and joined for five years as nixon's domestic council. geoff: good to be here. welcome to all of you. as david said this is probably our 38th nixon legacy forum. and it provides a wonderful opportunity, wonderful partnership between the national archives and the richard nixon foundation and it provides to scholars into looking at the papers in yorba linda. so you get the ability to actually get new insight into
what happened. >> our nine week series, america in turmoil, is available as a -- how are you able to do this, and whatyour thinking? we're able to do with support from the nixon foundation and from the national archives is to go behind the documents and talk about the why why's and the workforce of what we did. today's program is on president nixon's drug abuse initiative. and those of us that worked in that area believe that we made dramatic progress against a particular sort of heroin addiction which was crippling the inner city. we're going to talk about how
that came about and what we did and how that may have been lost when the focus moved on to other things. so what i'm going to do is sit and have our panelists introduce themselves and tell you where they were when president nixon was inaugurated and how they became involved in the drug abuse issue. and we'll start with jeff donfeld. jeff: i graduated law school from berkley in 1968. but during the summer of 1967, i was a clerk at the nixon law firm in new york. and that's openly what led to my being hired at the white house. i joined the white house staff in early 1969 and worked for bud wilkinson, famous oklahoma football coach. bud had a vast portfolio of obligations, one which was drug
abuse. when i came into his staff, he said, "what would you like to do?" and i felt that drug abuse was an area in which i knew nothing about but i felt i could make a contribution to the well-being of america if i could figure out what the issues were and how it might be approached. it turned out that as a result of research, which i was able to do primarily by traveling around the country including visiting dr. dupont's program in washington, d.c., dr. vinny prim in new york, dr. doles in nice wonder, new york and primarily dr. jerome jaffe. he was the head of the illinois drug abuse program. i visited therapeutic communities, methadone communities. and the only folks who had data on recidivism were the folks who
were dealing with methadone. geoff: you're getting way ahead of us. you are going to give our whole program away. we are just introducing ourselves. so i'm going to stop you. jeff and i are very good friends. he can't spell his name but we're very good friends. he's the policy guy at the white house on drug treatment. and then we go to bob dupont. bob, where were you when nixon was elected and how did you become involved in this? bob: my life changed when richard nixon was inaugurated in a dramatic way. and let me go back before that how i got to that point where my life changed so dramatically. i graduated from emory college in atlanta in 1958 and from
harvard medical school in 1963. i did my psychiatric training at harvard and came to n.i.h. for research training. when i finished that in 1932, it was time for me to find my first job. up until that time i had been in training. one day a week during his -- my residency, i worked for the state prison which was distinguished as the place where malcolm x served six years and i really fell in love with the prisoners and the prisons as a career thought. and i thought i really care about these people. i want to help them. i want to make a career in this area and find some way to use my medical knowledge to do something about that. so come my time, i finished my training july 1st of 1968, which is very important time for what him and we're talking about, i went to work for the district of columbia department of corrections. now, understand what happened next.
you have to understand that at the time washington, d.c. was a federal city. the mayor had just been appointed by lyndon johnson, walter washington and the city was run by the federal government. and the president was in charge of what was going on here. so in that context, i am a lifelong democrat. i like a i was then. i am now. and when richard nixon was elected, i thought my life was coming to an end. i had lots of ideas for reforms and corrections. mostly having to do with alternatives to incarceration and use of medical treatments. i thought well, this is over. and everybody expected richard nixon was going to not reappoint walter washington as the mayor. and when nixon came in and re-appointed walter washington, it changed the whole climate in the district of columbia in terms of opening up possibilities. what i found was, once nixon was
there was all of my reform ideas that i had in mind which was languished under lyndon johnson was suddenly interesting and by may of 1969, my first correctional reform programs were funded. you can't imagine how fast the federal government moved under those circumstances and that changed my life. what really changed -- >> we're going to stop you right there. >> that gets you started. >> life has changed. >> we're very eager to tell our stories. these are good idealistic people, young people coming to washington. and then we get to john coleman. >> thank you very much, jeff. i'm very honored to be here today and this panel. i graduated from college in new york. i went to college in 1964. a year later, i joined the federal bureau of narcotics in new york. my boss found out that i took to post graduate courses in french literature.
that qualified me to work on the french cases in new york at the time. eventually, in 1969, when an opening occurred in paris for a narcotics attache, i applied and was selected. in the fall of 1969 in september, i arrived in paris. i was stationed in france for over three and a half years. and that's where i was the day when president nixon was -- >> not to go on too long. otherwise he takes the whip. normally i just moderate and i don't get involved. but i was involved in drug abuse at the nixon white house -- >> on the law enforcement side. >> i joined the domestic council in 1970. and my public policy beat was
law and order, crime and drugs. but what you have here is four people, two of whom are young lawyers that are working on policy development and effectuation. and two people that are career experts. jeff and bob are on the treatment side. john and i are on the law enforcement side. but we come from different will aspects. so what we're going to do is go through the development of president nixon's attitudes and initiatives in drug abuse. each of these people is going to add as we go through because the development may be everything in the story of nixon's drug abuse initiatives. so let me go to our first exhibit. these are all papers that you would find at the national archives. this is from the 1968 campaign. and this is a booklet called
"nixon on the issues" that was compiled by anna and marty anderson who did domestic affairs for president nixon during the campaign. and what they were asked to do was demonstrate that nixon had made substantive statements about different policy initiatives. and what we were able to find was he did speak to the drug abuse issue and we've highlighted the first and the fourth statements only to show that from the very outset nixon is talking about drug abuse as a law enforcement issue, always first. but treatment is always there. he doesn't lead with treatment. but treatment is always a part of nixon's approach to drug abuse. and just to remind you in case you weren't around in 1968, president nixon's campaign had two principle themes. end the war with honor and restore law and order. the drug abuse comes over the
latter. but the lead was law enforcement. and then we go to president nixon's special message to the congress and this is july 14th. he's been president for six months. and he submits a message to the congress divided into 10 principle areas where he wants initiatives and reforms. if you're looking for the origins of what he wanted to do on drug abuse or what his staff was helping him to do on drug abuse, this is the key document. so we will keep going. but from the very outset, he's talking and including drug abuse as an important situation. and then we came across this memo from daniel moynahan, professor moynahan was the original assistant to the president for urban affairs. he dabbled in everything. that was an absolute delight. we came across the memo that he wrote to john mitchell and the
highlighted part that said we could interdict the smuggling of heroin and make a huge difference. jeff, you have some memory of that. >> well, one of the comments that dr. moynahan makes is that if we attack the problem, we can solve the heroin addiction problem in the united states between 12 and 24 months. disrupt the supply change and go to the next problem. that would end it as we look back on history. that obviously was not a correct perception. but the idea of going and trying to disrupt the supply chain at its source or the french part is not an irrational approach.
it was just the timing. >> it was two-prong. i'll let john coleman talk about this more specifically. it was turkey, the source of the open and then france for the laboratories. >> we should have john go into this. john had enough sense not to go into it in his introduction so he wouldn't get cut off. but this is his moment because he was heavily involved in the french connection. >> dr. moynahan went to a number of bndd officers throughout the middle east and europe and visited turkey. and saw firsthand the growing of the opium poppies in turkey. and then visited france and talked with the agencies and the agents about some of the diplomatic initiatives that might be under taken because at the time we're talking about
1969, 1970. 85% of the heroin available in the united states being consumed in the united states 85% was made in laboratories, clandestine laboratories in southern france. and it was made from opium produced in turkey or morphine based which is an intermediate area stage between opium and heroin but it has a one to one consistency with heroin so it's easier to smuggle. he realized the importance of controlling this national traffic if you're going to stop the importation of heroin to the united states. and so that was key to the recommendations to the attorney general. his recommendations was to increase diplomatic efforts, our efforts overseas and increase the global pressure on the producing nations particularly turkey in the opium business.
>> this wasn't a bolt out of the blue that nobody had thought of before. what's different is this is the assistant to the president saying to the newly installed attorney general, let's put some muscle behind this? >> exactly. i think we benefit, john, just describing for the audience the trek of poppies are growing in turkey. they ooze gum. that you score the pod. the gum oozes out over night. you scrape the gum off, very labor intensive and that becomes gum opium. and how does that get to france to where we are? >> about 10% of the raw materials consistent of raw -- consisted of raw opium. that was very cheap because as jeff said, it was produced by
the opium pod, scraped off the pod at night or whatever. and solidified into some sort of a ball like half a kilo or kilo package. him and and then shipped off to france with the laboratories. but they found out early in the game that it would be a lot easier and they could make more money if they could convert it to morphine base. turkish opium or persian opium has a morphine content of about 10%. but if you turn that into morphine base by chemical process, the morphine base has a morphine content sometimes exceeding 90%. when that's turned into heroin, the heroin will have a final percentage purity of between 90%, 95%, sometimes reaching over 95%. by being able to smuggle morphine base, there's a 10-1 volume ratio.
so for every 10 kilos of opium they could make one kilo of morphine base. >> so when they have heroin in south of the france, how does it show up over here? >> well, that was a very complex and difficult challenge for the bndd at the time because we knew french heroin was reaching new york because new york was the hub for the entire united states, not just the east coast but as far west as california in some cases. and so the mystery was how was the heroin getting from the laboratories and southern france into new york city where it would be controlled by the mafia mostly at the first turnover from the french connections? there was a group of french ex-patriots. these are criminals. people wanted for crimes in french as far as the
french-indo-china war. some of these people were living in southern brazil. the brazilian authorities wanted them out of the country because they were creating problems in brazil. they worked closely with the united states. they were deported to france, in one case, to italy because he was italian. but there were no direct flights between brazil at the time and europe. they had to come through the united states. and when they came through the united states, they were captured and in most cases rather than go back to france where several of them were sentenced in absentia -- although the death penalty had been cancelled since he was sentenced to death, they would basically be facing life in prison. they agreed to corporate. so they turned over everything they knew about the investigations and it turned out that they were the conduit, they were the link between the sources in southern france and the italian mafia groups in new york that were importing the
heroin. >> and in the movie called "the french connection." it's in the floor plates, the doorjamb of jaguars as i recall. >> exactly. >> but typical smuggling, it just happened to be heroin. it could have been diamonds. >> exactly. by the way "the french connection" movie was a wonderful movie based on the book by robin moore. but it was a compilation of different vignettes from different cases. there wasn't a single french connection case per se. and all of the vignettes in the production in the movie occurred, but they occurred in different cases. and yes, cars were very popular smuggling instruments from the french because back in those days we had a number of trans atlantic vessels between traveling between new york and europe.
they were italian vessels, french, swedish, scandinavian, british, etc. and these vessels were ideal places to place things like personal cargo, automobiles, but the problem was that even though we were able to at times get the drugs by seizing the automobiles, the people who accompanied them were what we call mules. they really didn't know much about the organization other than they were hired to simply accompany a car. so even if they cooperated, they weren't able to tell us very much. it wasn't until we got the people out of brazil that we were able to put the pieces together and link up the italian mafia people in new york with the french connection. >> just to remind the audience, you got started because you were in new york working for the federal bureau of narcotics. you started working on french connection cases. you did such a good job, they sent you to france. >> well, thank you very much for the compliment. i had a very good familiarity
with the cases. and that helped -- >> super. well, we'll go on. this is president nixon in a meeting in the cabinet room with the bipartisan congressional leadership, and they're talking about a drug abuse control and treatment issues. and again, this is in the first year of his administration. so he sent the message to congress. and then he invites the leadership up to the cabinet room to talk about the sponsors -- talk about the importance. these people in a nice way are being lobbied to pass legs. -- pass legislation. it takes a little over a year and a half to actually get the legislation. but they're working very hard. nixon is devoting personal time and attention to moving this along. now, we were able to spot bud
krogh in the picture. he's in there in the far right corner. bud's not able to be with us today. but jeff and i both worked for bud. and in the minds of people who look for the origins of the staffing of president nixon on the drug abuse issue that that's bud's job. and we were mere helpers at the time. talented mere helpers. >> this is an interesting shot because none of us are in the shot. this is president nixon saying hi to the president of france welcoming him in the rose garden with secretary of state bill rogers looking on. and john has a story about that. >> yeah, this is a very interesting meeting because at the time there was a lot of growing pressure in the united states on france to do something about the heroin traffic. there were several french
restaurants including one in washington, d.c. that were refusing to serve french wine until they did something about the heroin problem. they were running a tally much like they had done during the vietnam war. there was a good deal of pressure on france to do something. when their president came to visit president nixon, he was not prepared to to have the president place upon him this tremendous responsibility of getting his country out of the heroin business that was damaging the united states so much. again, i was in paris at the time but was working with the police. i recall very clearly that when the french president returned from his visit to the white
house, the message came to the ministry of the interior that they had to step up their operations and get serious about the heroin labs in southern france. my colleagues, the police officers that i worked with on a daily basis, they said we don't know what your president said to our president, but whatever it was he's lit a fire on under us so we've got to close these places down. and that precipitated a lot of initiatives between the french and the americans and then, of course, mr. krogh from the white house came over. and that was the beginning of a project that was called the franco-american committee. i believe it was known as the franco-american commission. but it was started as committee, and it was a bilateral connection between france and the united states to share information and to allow the french police to open an office
in new york, which they did. and to allow the bndd officers such as myself and in paris to work jointly with the french police doing things that were let us say a little bit out of the normal course of events in french policing. for example, in the united states we in bndd used techniques like undercover bys. the nature of the narcotics crime is where you don't have a complainant. so you have to have a way of getting into these organizations. the very effective way was using informants to give you the information about what was going on. and wire taps and things like this. in france like -- under the napoleonic code law which
actually was in most of europe informants were not allowed to participate in the cases like they were in the u.s. they couldn't pay them for their information. and undercover bies were completely out of the picture because that would be a crime in itself to actually precipitate a by. these techniques that were very common in the united states and effective were unknown in france. but the french police had a great interest in this. this franco-american committee that was set up by mr. krogh and his assistants was very effective in creating an atmosphere in which there could be cross training. for example, rather than we americans telling the french you don't know what you're doing or the french saying you don't know what you're doing in our country, we could have formal training sessions at the police academy in which we would explain the legal basis for how
we work and how best to work. they learned a great deal from us and they learned a great deal from all of this. >> we're almost exporting our law enforcement approach to a completely different culture. >> right. >> who they have a common interest in stopping this but they don't use our ways. >> precisely. and this committee that i talk about had two levels. one was an executive committee level which was made of the minister interior for france who spoke flawless english and really liked our country, our president and our people. senate, they would come, he would smile, listen to what they wanted, he would say, go see bobby. they would go see bobby and he and of course, john mitchell who was mr. nixon -- president nixon's attorney general. the en
kind of stuck with that role. he embraced it because at the time that was his only job. he did not see anything beyond that. so he was considered endlessly calculating. there was another story from the inauguration of johnson, the morning of he and ted drive from his house past arlington national cemetery, they stop, the brothers pray, they go onto the inauguration, they don't stay for any of the balls, bobby comes home by himself and he passes arlington again, stops again, he stops, praise, this time there is a journalist and photographer there. the photographer snapped a photo, it was in the newspaper the next day. the republican senator, named, told these journalists we are a very hard-boiled crowd we notice things like that. what they were saying was bobby was using him as a photo off. he would never do that.
if anyone really knew him they knew he would not do that. >> jules, in your book you describe how the journalists on the train but bobby had a song about ruthlessness -- in a sense they were teasing him about it. >> it happened in the indiana primary. it was a local song that became very famous called "the train that ran through the state of indiana." when the campaign got into indiana it was in inspiration for us in the press to play that song and we won't -- and we wrote a song called "the
ruthless cannonball." i have all the words in my book. one that always stayed in my mind was about jean mccarthy who was running against robert kennedy for the democratic nomination. it went "here comes jean mccarthy, down the other track, 1000 radcliffe dropouts, all mast for the attack, but bobby has the right of way, back to st. paul, because money is no object on a ruthless cannonball." >> in your book you don't say who wrote that song but i think you have just given us an idea. in that case he left with the reporters. >> he enjoyed it quite a bit. he would always have some kind of come back to put us in our
place. in those days we had a president who valued loyalty greatly and had an extraordinary personality, a bit unusual. >> we aren't used to those things anymore. in the 60s we had johnson. johnson had a dislike for robert kennedy that was enormous. kennedy seems to have reciprocated. it was a very destructive for the democratic party and the government to have the two most influential people in the party dislike each other so much. yet, on issues, there wasn't that much difference between them. how can you explain this deep- seated dislike that they had? >> i think initially bobby thought that johnson was telling people in december of 1963 that johnson is much more conservative than you think. he was proven wrong on that.
he was later complaining that johnson was getting too much credit for what john kennedy had started. he just didn't like him. he didn't trust him. he thought he lives too much. really, he also, i believe he didn't like his criticism of his father that he had offered in 1960s during the convention. he wanted to be with the kennedy legacy and johnson wanted a johnson administration. he was very open in that johnson does not want me to be a part of this administration because i am a kennedy and because he wants to be elected in his own right. >> that is very true. johnson became his brother's
vice president. bobby resented that and never really forgot it. there is a well known story at the convention when john kennedy decided for various reasons that he needed or wanted lyndon johnson as his running mate. bobby kennedy went down to convey information to johnson did his best to try to get johnson to not to take the vice presidency. that was always remembered in that relationship between johnson and bobby kennedy. >> all of that sort of spelled
of that particular time. we can't talk about the 1960s. and what ways do you think the vietnam war contributed to that between these two.>> bobby kennedy you are seeing him give johnson advice about the vietnam war in which he said it is a political solution and not a military solution. johnson has the opposite reaction. and one phone conversation with bobby and another one with the senator saying we need someone with stars as in a general to sort out the situation and not a diplomat. robert kennedy understood the role of the presidency for the first two years after his brother was assassinated. bobby volunteered to go as ambassador to vietnam in june 1964.
lyndon johnson turned him down for a number of reasons. they could lose another -- bobby was given this advice about how to take care of vietnam thematically and the secretary of state seemed open to elections involving the vietcong's political arena and they said we need to give the power of responsibility. a firestorm of criticism came back from hubert humphrey and the old advisories and from everyone in washington seeing this through the lens of johnson versus kennedy and a personal feud. bobby did not think that much of it. he went to vermont to skiing and had to come back to explain the press conference. that was a political relationship that they
experienced that contributed greatly to why he did not get into the race in 1968 earlier. speaking of vietnam, that is where comes down to. two people with two different solutions.>> the vietnam war had huge street protests and robert kennedy overtime developed abilities to deal with that. capitalize on it and make the connection with people who are already set economically. johnson, when he went out, he did not help himself. the personality and the arrogant attitude. robert kennedy helped himself because with his ability to touch
heartstrings and his concerns was the people in the streets and that made him a much more effective politician dealing with protest.>> you cover that campaign. the opponent was eugene mccarthy. can you talk about mccarthy and how he figures into this equation? >> reporter: mccarthy emerged in large part because robert kennedy declined to play the role. two young man stood outside of north carolina or duke and created that. they tried to
recruit robert kennedy who was not interested and two or three other politicians including george mcgovern who said, why don't you talk to mccarthy and mccarthy was not a star in the senate or well-known and he had a certain soft charisma. he was not a bombastic candidate. he was not an emotional candidate. he was an intellectual candidate at that time, it worked well on american campuses. you saw a movement growing from across the kids. they cut their
long hair to generate support for mccarthy. mccarthy was overwhelmed as a candidate by the charisma of robert kennedy when he came into the race. mccarthy held on. he declined to pull out of the race and declined to even team up with robert kennedy as an unofficial team to get rid of johnson. i always felt that mccarthy was extremely important in that whole saga because he had emotional appeal but not sufficiently to overcome it.
>> mccarthy felt slighted that power and responsibility pick a new story in which mccarthy says i proposed the same thing and no one paid attention because i am not a candidate. i recall reading him telling reporters two weeks before he announced president, robert kennedy sang -- saying kennedy did not think much of mccarthy. mccarthy thought kennedy was a celebrity. >> i can attest that mccarthy had charisma because he took poetry after that campaign and we are both graduate students and my professor taught a history class in the same room
mccarthy taught poetry in. it was my job to clear the coeds out because they congregated around the podium. people were swooning in those days. he was an important figure but it added to the peculiar chemistry of the 1968 election. >> i went on a campaign. that year we went to a small campus north of chicago and he began to recite poetry and the meeting was held under a
tin roof. he launched into his own loki campaign pitch. it started to pour. it poured down but it was hard to hear and understand him. the moderator who was the president of the college came forward and said senator, i think maybe we should hesitate for a while because i don't think they can hear you. he said, i can hear me. [ laughter ].>> that was mccarthy. >> since we are here, i thought we should talk a little bit about robert kennedy as a legislator. i am curious about what your thoughts are.
how did robert kennedy relate to the other senators that he was dealing with? was a much of a legislator in those days? >> i would not say he was much but he was regarded as a one- man senate. he was different. he wasn't very approachable by the other senators. as a senator, i thought he did a lot of things in new york that wasn't presidential whereas mccarthy was no great legislator either. i think that was kind of a draw there. >> bobby was unconventional as a senator coming in. i think jfk waited a year or so before he gave his first senate
speech or remarks. teddy waited a year and a half before he did. bobby waited for weeks. the first bill was related to the operation bill. it was part of the campaign promise that they were going to include the southern tier counties in new york state. the bill the provided aid that was being championed by jennings randolph, the senator from west virginia. bobby goes and makes over the weekend and writes the amendment and delivers a speech on the floor of the senate. it is a billion dollar bill in 1965. on the front page of the chicago tribune there is not a picture of jennings randolph but it was bobby kennedy. now that sets the tone and pace. bobby had a weird relationship. the secretary would tally up the hours that he had set for siding which was a duty of the
freshman senators to preside over the senate. bobby had 75 hours compared to 125 for walter mondale who was a freshman at the same time and bobby writes on the sheet, i didn't do too well, did i? the senator wrote nope.>> he brought great attention to the hearings that other senators could not hear -- bring. in the hearings that he is tangling with the sheriff in california in kern county, he would draw attention with the big three automakers in the hearings. the washington post said he dressed down the executives of the big three as if they were teenagers or -- flunking the drivers add test.
he really relished that part of being a senator. they always thought he was going to tackle education and he never really did. >> he did have the ability to attract publicity which is important when you are trying to get people to pay attention to the particular issue. in those days, tvs didn't do gavel to gavel on the hearings. the lights would light up when the celebrity spoke and the person would speak. when they finished it would go off. that was the 30 seconds or 60 seconds of the room. when there was a kennedys speaking, the lights were on. i presume the other senators noticed that. they went into eclipse. he was stop -- still able to bring important issues to the table. another question is to both of
you because you are talking about the campaign and a lot of the things that he did climbing mountains and some of the risks that he took in coal mines. do you have a sense of robert kennedy being fatalistic in this. after the 1963 assassination in a sense, willing to put himself at risk more than what was expected of any unusual person? >> they were always doing feats of great physicality. if you watch the family swimming as children, there is where he went for a 50 mile march when he was attorney general. he was able to talk his way out of it. he was constantly challenging himself physically. he was a masculine person in that sense and wanted adventures. climbing a mountain without anyone else who was not a
professional, he was the only nonprofessional on the climb, it was dangerous and alarming. he nearly fell a few times. at the same time, i think that was part of his being. >> you watched him during the campaign, was he taken -- taking unnecessary risks? >> not extraordinary risks being out there in the climate of the day was risky. i want to talk about another part of robert kennedy and his dealings with us, the press. on one hand he enjoyed us pulling his chain a little bit but he was not very approachable at the beginning. my first account was was -- when he was
a staff person on the committee. i covered those hearings occasionally because people from his state, new york, were involved in the rackets and i was working for an obscure newspaper chain and whenever i tried to ask a question he would say at that time, and you are? i came away from that a little agitated about kennedy and put off. when john kennedy ran here in west virginia, i had the
experience that i realized the difficulty of dealing with a kennedy. the headquarters of the kennedy campaign was in charleston and the dining room served as a pressroom. one night i walked into the pressroom and there was nobody there but robert kennedy. he recognized me enough to know that i was a reporter. he did what all politicians do and still do about reporters. he tried to milk us about we know about the other campaign. what was going on and i had an unexpected 45 minute conversation with robert kennedy
where it unfolded . i have got him in here with the kennedy family and the next morning our back to the pressroom which was also the breakfast room. there was my friend, bobby kennedy sitting down with ps salinger and katie o'donnell and two or three other biggies in the campaign. i said, do you mind if you join -- i join you? i did not have breakfast with robert kennedy but as time went on and on the campaign itself which we were traveling together , they found him to be extremely approachable and
likable. there was always that side of him and i think that is why even now there's a soft heart in journalism from robert kennedy. >> when you are doing your research, how useful did you find those accounts? what kind of a source is journalism for historians? >> robert kennedy was probably the most covered person in that. because so many people saw he was the future kennedy -- printed it -- president. i treat him the way i treat any other future president and that is how the press treated him. you could get four or five different accounts of the same event from different angles and i found that so valuable and
thanks to the new digital dictation of newspaper it makes it easy for journalists to pull out research. that was the most primary source that you can get for a lot of the events because they want recorded. i could not have done it without them.>> for those of you that don't use it, it has every word and every newspaper. it is is searchable so you can though out anything and find exactly when it appeared in the new york times or the washington post or the chicago tribune or the los angeles time.'s -- los angeles times. we are trying to figure out the balance. you can read the same story in the times and read the tribune and get different takes.
they are good reporters in both papers but definitely different attitudes and different views and editors expecting different things.>> the work that would take an hour and a microphone machine you can do in a minute and a half.>> exactly.>> before we open this up for questions, i want to ask you one question. that is, do you think robert kennedy could have one denomination of the presidency in 1968? >> i doubt very much that he could have gotten the nomination because the way the selection was, when mccarthy was beaten, hubert humphrey never engaged in any of the primaries. all he did was have the democratic support.
he came into the california primary with almost enough or probably enough to be nominated. kennedy got a huge boost from california. as far as getting the nominations, because of that fact, i find it hard to see enough regular democrats to switch. what a caveat? at the convention in chicago, which was such a disaster, if kennedy got into the convention, it was inconceivable to me the sentiment for him personally.
the war in vietnam could have got him the nomination. i would not that money on it but if he had been nominated there was no question he would have trounced richard nixon. he was scared and intimidated by the kennedy family. under those circumstances, i think in my mind that he would have got the nomination and became president. >> the ad man said if uber -- hubert humphrey would have bought -- beat nixon. he would
have deprived him of enough boats -- vote. going back to getting the nomination, bobby had a strong shot. one of the things they write in my book in 1964 one bobby first was deciding how he was going to pursue power he went to conventional route and said i should be vice president. he immediately looks at it to the way of the lens of the delegates and where the power is. he is doing things he has to do and one of the way the newspapers helped me is i could track who he was meeting with. he knew that he could rely on a great emotional appeal. so did lyndon johnson and he actually moved the kennedy tribute to john f. kennedy later to after the balloting for vice president and president so the outpouring of
emotion, the kind we saw the 1964 convention where bobby stood there for a dozen minutes being applauded by everyone, could not sweep the convention and lead to a puppy nomination of some kind. i feel that robert kennedy was very conscious of that situation with the delegates and how he was going to persuade the party bosses to come with them for the nomination. again, an uphill climb in the electrical -- electoral college. >> a phenomenal politician and a person able to bring together disparate groups who talked about unity. they did it in a way that other politicians could not do. it was really a national tragedy. with that, i think we would like to give you a share in
this discussion. if you have a question or a statement, if you would like to use one of the microphones in the front, we appreciate it. >> when martin luther king was assassinated, bobby was in indianapolis last night and i would love to hear your comments about that night. >> you are there warned you that night? >> yes. >> that was the most emotional speech i have ever heard. from a politician. he was assassinated in memphis and kennedy was running indiana. when he was on the plane somewhere in indiana going back
to indianapolis and the campaign people decided or he decided he wanted to go to a african-american community and talk to the people. they did not know. nobody in the crowd knew what happened. frank who was bobby's press secretary gave the news on the plane as they were going to indianapolis and kennedy asked him to shut -- jot down a few ideas. as we got into indianapolis, for one reason or another, they were separated. kennedy went to the black community and frank arrived
late. he wrote a few ideas but never got them by and kennedy made the most amazing remarks. the gist of which was, i have a member of my family killed by a white man. i know how you feel because that is how i feel. that's not the exact quote but i have to look here and he ended the remarks by quoting as he called, my favorite poet. the remarks about how that kind
of the loss affects people. he quoted it and he was astonished. and this speech, robert kennedy's off-the-cuff remarks were played this year. many places on television. those remarks telling the crowd about martin luther king. >> the quote that he recited was from a book after the assassination in 1964 by hamilton called the greek way about pain on the heart.>> he
was talking about acceptance through acts we cannot control. one of the interesting points i found was one journalist saw him walking up and his lips moving talking to himself. kenny o'donnell who was close with him said he realized later that when bobby was talking to himself he was talking to jack and his brother was on his mind as he went up and spoke at night. he asked people to go home and say a prayer for the country and the family. >> he was reciting the words. >> another question. >> i am glad you brought that up. to me that was bobby's finest hour. i wanted to share with you the time i met bobby kennedy.
we moved to washington when i was eight and my father worked on the equal employment effort -- office. we got a chance to go to the white house. jfk was out of the office and we were disappointed but we could meet the attorney general. here came bobby and he said, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen and he walked over to me, the eight-year-old and the least among us and asked me my name and how old i was and what grade i was in. he obviously knew how to address an eight year old. i thought the warmth and the vulnerability was there. >> pardon me. anyway, we all thought that bobby was ruthless.
i saw that kindness because of the way he related to me. many years later i campaigned for him as a junior high school student and i celebrated those remarks when king was shot. i cut out the newspaper article . i read about it in books and 10 years ago on youtube i discovered you can actually see the film of that flat bread -- flatbed truck and you can see the hesitating grace of robert kennedy. what might've happened if he had been elected? with great respect, i disagree with you. i think you would've overwhelmed humphrey and i think that he would have one the nomination. i can't back that up with facts but as a 15-year-old, i thought
he would have supported him. he could reunite the blue- collar and intellectual. we got the trump of that error. this graceless sociopath of a man, nixon and the revolution was over, ladies and gentlemen. i turned against the government and protested the vietnam war and to me we left a lot of people in the field. you are going to say? >> robert kennedy understood vulnerability from the early age. his mother said he was born seven years after jack and joe and then another seven or eight years before teddy. he did not have any boy playmates to roughhouse with. he went to more schools that he could remember as a child and
he i think really understood being alone and feeling of loneliness. children he could relate to well.>> i was told to get that attention. he was my favorite kennedy after that i think he was considered the runt of the brothers. he wasn't physical like his older brothers, especially joseph, the older brother and he needed to prove something and he had that double personality of someone who needs to prove something.>> he was not built for but he was lettered at hard -- harvard. he willed himself to be stronger and work harder.>> another question or comment? >> in 1968 i wrote a paper as a
senior in college and i cited your book for sociology that i took at boston university. this may be a hard question and i want to thank you but a couple weeks ago it came out that rfk junior met with sirhan sirhan and convinced he was not the one who killed his fire and i read that one of his sisters believes it was somebody else. do you have any opinion about that? >> i have my own recollection of being in the room. i don't believe there was a second shooter. there could have been because it was bedlam but i covered the grand jury hearings and there is nothing that indicates that.
>> any other questions? >> you speak of bobby's loyalty to the president. does he have different views of the president's policies and would have changed any of the policies if he had won nomination. >> there was things that he viewed differently on. he was very careful about staying -- saying jfk would have done this. there was an invasion of the dominican republic from marines landing. peter was interviewed by a journalist for the new york newspaper in which he pushed him and pushed him. is he saying jfk would have done this. if you hear that, ted, then you hear it. the headline was what he
would've done differently. rfk went through the roof with peter saying how could we know what he would have wanted. he is not here. he did have to make decisions that his brother would not be faced with i'd -- and i don't think jfk would have done this or that. he thought of what was right and wrong and what they saw was the right way. i think people thought different things about what jfk would have done. in the book i have a photo of the cabinet room and they dedicated the bust of jfk. in the background he put all these decisions over vf -- vietnam and some people that set the table with body looked at him and thought, we have to carry out the commitment in vietnam. we gave our word to the allies.
bobby's salt jfk and thought we have to think differently as he thought during the cuban missile crisis. you have those sorts of conflicts but they were brothers and they saw things differently from time to time.>> the vietnam war. i have no doubt that if kennedy became president we would not be there much longer than we were. with jfk it never came to the point where we thought we could get out of there. >> also, you did mention latin america. bobby kennedy have a different policy on latin america and south africa. his visit to south africa was an enormous event for that country. people are still talking about it 30 years later.
it put him at odds with the administration and the thinking of the united states at that time. he was advanced with relations with other countries. not just vietnam. i think there was areas but in terms of the great society, the kennedy brothers were actually promoting the legislation and take kennedy was more of a legislator in that respect. it was not as if there was a huge chas him be queen -- between kennedy and johnson on those issues.>> we have two more questions. we have time for two more. >> i will make it quick.>> my name is jessica. thank you for the work you do. i am a returned peace corps volunteer. i feel connected to the kennedys. i believe martin luther king jr.
sensed there was a common assassination -- coming assassination and i am wondering if bobby kennedy had any inclination that he would be shot? thank you. >> well, kennedy was a fatalist. he knew what the situation was with the country but i don't think that was his way. he was determined to do what he was going to do. i don't know whether he was surprised or not surprised but he knew the temper of the country and he was aware that something like that could happen. >> i don't think he ever had a death wish or was in that sense, i think he knew the
dangers of what he was up for. you would say when you was running percent and -- senate, i could have gone home and run my flag up the flag pole and told everyone about how i saved the country that one time or i can continue to contribute. he felt strongly about public service and the need to continue in public life and you could not walk away from it.>> thank you. i wear black to this event in mourning that happened years ago. i wanted in sight on the week in which the brothers saved the world that we know. the cuban vessel crisis. i read about it and i know that bobby started aligned with the military and got it and he and his brother did it all.
>> it is controversial because there has been some scholarships saying robert kennedy was actually much more aggressive about taking on the cubans and right away with the military solution there. he would use that issue to think differently or try to perhaps maybe use a little bit more diplomacy, a softer touch or make a better solution. he talked about the moral choices that they faced. he revealed later how many cubans they had estimated would be killed if they had decided to take it out. there were dozens and thousands. it was something that he used to paint the responsibility of someone who would hold such power as the president.>> the reporter at the pentagon during the cuban missile crisis and
robert kennedy played a central role as a go-between to avoid the situation. i have no doubt however that he would have done whatever his brother had decided to do but he played a very critical will in averting nuclear war. >> he referred back to that often and help pivotal that was he was thinking about the world. two extraordinary authors that avert -- have wrote two books. really fascinating accounts of an important figure in american history and i think it is appropriate that we are here to recognize him and thank you all for coming. [ applause ]
which urgently implored congress to enact a meaningful and effective gun control law. in june, much of the attention was centered on the paris peace talks. early in the month negotiators returned to washington to report on an apparent impasse at the meetings . from vietnam the reports from far -- or far from optimistic instead of a slow down the communist launched a massive new wave of assaults throughout the south. averting resolve on the home front and heightened leverage. at a news conference hundred 26, the president announced that the supreme court chief justice was retiring. and making his third and fourth appointments to the high court the president knew the choices would affect the destiny of the nation's after he himself left office.>> watch it real america
this weekend on america history on c-span 3. we explore the literary scene and history. saturday at noon eastern on book tv. shawna cunningham with his book, american politics. conservative growth and a battleground region. billions of dollars of federal resources are being ported to the south and southwest to create this new, development defense oriented society that is both fighting communism on board and pursuing free-market dreams at home. it creates this kind of thing in the southwest that
reinforces a lot of the ideas of american ingenuity and hard work and a commitment to fighting.>> on sunday at 2 pm eastern. the buddy holly center to hear about the native and his legacy. >> the city is very proud of the fact that buddy was born and raised here and that the center is here to keep his story alive and keep his music alive.>> a visit to the vietnam center located at texas tech university. the center is him to the largest collection of vietnam related materials outside of the national archives.>> got a lot of -- we've got a lot of different equipment they veterans would carry. the things they carried. the first aid kit. the radios and the helmet that the veterans would wear.
the steel pot that would protect them from shrapnel. >> saturday at noon eastern on c-span's book tv and working with our cable affiliates as we explore america. robert f kennedy announced he was running for president march 16 1968. several members of congress marked the 50th anniversary of the announcement. we will hear from the house minority leader, nancy pelosi a, marco rubio, john lewis and joe kennedy. as well as his daughter, kerry kennedy. >> ladies and gentlemen, we welcome you here this evening.
joe kennedy is right now delayed voting on the floor of the house of representatives. i have been instructed to begin. i have always felt myself to be a subsidiary. his impeccable god -- judgment that i'm going to follow right now and i want to thank carrie, to thank tim shriver, to think riley kennedy, to think at the link kennedy townsend, kerry kennedy townsend, thank them for coming this evening and to all of you for participating in this historic moment. i have said many times in my career that i was inspired by the kennedy brothers to be interested in politics.
this evening on the 50th anniversary of robert f kennedy announcing the presidency in this room as did his brother jack as did his brother ted. it is an incredible moment in time to remember. it was for me and it was for anyone in this room who was alive at that time. they inspired a generation of americans. they helped to lift are gauged to the constellation of possibilities for ourselves and for the world. that inspiration continues to live on even today. that dawning of a bright better future lifted up the spirit of an entire nation and gave us hope, it gave us reassurance and it gave one boy a dream. it turns out the same thing
happened not just for irish boys in massachusetts but every nationality in our country and the planet. it helps to inspire them as well. i am honored to be here to kick off this incredible celebration because he was one of the greatest public servants this nation has ever known as a senator, attorney general and presidential. he was a true liberal because i'm -- before liberal became a bad word and one of the greatest for quality and freedom. it has been a half of the connection. in that time, we have idealism. we have missed this tenacity. this time that has passed illuminates how much of a trailblazer that he was.
i have no doubts that he would've looked out at the national mall today with the thousands of young people exercising their right to protest for a safer school and he would have marched with them. he would have spoken to them. he would have spoken to them about his support of a gun control and his belief that for too long we did -- dealt with these harmless weapons as if they were tours. he would have told them to embrace including everyone. old and young. that is what we saw on the mall today. he would have told him to cut
through the current political jungle and to find the justice and safety for their communities. it is >> you>> and you are watching american history tv, only on c-span3. >> each week american history tv's real america brings you archival films that provide context for of affairs issues. >> each year from february to may, hundreds of men leave and soon spread out on the coastlines of alaska, preparing for the famine run that is to come. there these great runs, are fishermen. strategically.n
this is for the previous years. they consist of a long double row and they stretch out from the land and terminate in another group and are the most effective and economical means of catching large numbers of fish at one time. strong nets are between them. exciting words/by radio and the fit -- salmon are running. all of alaska becomes salmon conscious. it works for over 21,000 men. they come by the thousands if by magic. there is nothing to keep these fish from swimming out once they are caught. only the instinct never to turn back keeps thousands of salmon
in the trap. once alongside the fish house ins, the crew loses no time unloading their catch. , are fresh from the sea independent fishermen. no human hands touch the fish. a mechanical elevator moves them to the fish house. >> you can watch this and other american history programs on our issite, where all our video archived. that is c-span.org/history. >> the c-span bus is traveling country.e bu we are asking folks what is the most important issue in alaska. >> i work with the science and engineering program at the university of alaska.
important issue facing alaska has to do with education and workforce development. we see a lot of students coming who are underity prepared for college and we are also not doing a great job of providing the environment and community to support them through the undergraduate programs. we are engaging students as young as sixth-grade through middle school, high school and into the university to provide a string of opportunities that help them academically, socially, by writing inspiration and guidance to get through those academic levels. see that the issues i is very important is nationwide as well as in alaska, and that is giving children garbage bags when they are being removed from their homes. we give backpacks and duffel bags to children when they are being removed from their homes
and transition from one home to another or transitioning out of foster care. >> another issue that is seems to be me that coming to fruition is fisheries management. fisheries are important to alaska from a commercial stand point and a fishing standpoint and a tourist standpoint. we have problems that need to be dealt with on all fronts, and they need to be dealt with soon, or we may suffer severe financial consequences. >> my thoughts and based on my is that there will is a way that all alaskans can oil.rofit from the the way it has been handled lately, it has been a little
unfortunate the way it has been vetoed. that effectively is regrettable because unless the in people don't know that we have no sales tax or income tax. we are a very low tax state. however, the later pfu has handled it people have to pay $1000 in taxes. that is kind of inequitable, if you ask me. >> voices from the state on c-span. next, we interview wofford college history professor mark byrnes about the influence of radio on world war ii-era politics. we spoke with him at "the organization of american historians annual meeting" in sacramento, california. this is about 20 minutes. steve: mark byrnes is a professor of history at wofford college.