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tv   Reel America Election 1976 - Presidential Elections  CSPAN  February 2, 2020 4:00pm-4:33pm EST

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the second episode, the primaries, three legal analysts discuss the results so far that was when a ronald reagan chosen for challenging gerald ford. and a relatively unknown georgia governor jimmy carter was winning in early democratic primaries. pacific, our weekly series on the presidency. president trump is scheduled to deliver his state of the union address next tuesday. we look forward to bill clinton's 1999 state of the is senatele he impeachment trial was underway. that is what is coming up on "american history tv". ♪
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♪ >> election 1976 a case study. , your host is political analyst richard scaman. with me here in washington today, mr. stephen hess of the brookings institution and professor howard penniman of georgetown university. this is the first of a series of programs that are going to extend over the full period of the campaign until beyond the election in november in our bicentennial political/political year -- are bicentennial political year.
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bicentennial put clear. what we want to do is to bring a picture of the american electoral process. we will have special programs dealing with parties and the media, campaign technique and polling and the rest. what we are really aiming to do is to give you a picture of the way in which we select our american president. and how 215 million or 220 million americans can provide every four years a process by which leadership can be developed and transferred over these 200 years of american history. what we hope to do is to bring you discussions of these aspects of the electoral campaign and begin that discussion with a consideration of an historical overview of just the way in which this has worked in the past. the critical elections, the major elections, the watershed elections if you will, in the american electoral process. how these have developed, how have they responded to american political demands, both foreign and domestic? how have they replied to the
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needs and demands of the electorate? and when we have this historical overview, we will consider how this has met these demands and needs and indeed how it may be projected forward to meet the demands and needs of our bicentennial presidential year. ♪ >> national conventions are a political process that is uniquely american. each political party needs to meet to write its platform and to choose the candidate that will represent it in the national elections. it happens every four years and is happening again in 1976. it all began in 1831, when the first national party conventions were held to elect presidential candidates. since 1856, the republican and democratic parties have dominated american politics. abraham lincoln in 1860 was the first republican elected to the presidency. each candidate is remembered for his own particular campaign style.
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william jennings bryan for his fullness of phrases and flamboyant gestures. teddy roosevelt for his vigorous, direct and no-nonsense manner. [applause] in 1924, when radio invaded the convention hall and the campaign trail, john w. davis was the democratic candidate. the record 103 ballots required to nominate him for president left his party divided. in the end, his republican opponent calvin coolidge won the election easily. today, president coolidge is remembered more for his cool manner and frequent fishing trips. ♪ in 1928, alfred e. smith was one of the most colorful and controversial candidates ever to hold the number one position on a party ticket. >> the happy warrior, alfred e. smith.
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>> yet at election time, the iowa smile and the pleasant voice of herbert hoover won the white house for his party for four more years. in 1932, republican luck ran out for the next 20 years, when candidates like alfred landon and wendell wilkie proved to be no match for the brilliant democratic president franklin delano roosevelt. over the years republicans and democrats alike have run their conventions in the same manner. a chairman is chosen, delegates are certified, a party platform is adopted, and candidates for the presidency are nominated. >> the great state of new york, thomas e. dewey. >> fellow delegates, i give you the man from libertyville, the next democratic nominee and our next president of united states, adlai e. stephenson. >> in the 1952 and 1956 campaigns, the impeccable style of the democratic candidate
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adlai stephenson provided contrast to general eisenhower. eisenhower's strength rested in the warm father image he projected into millions of american homes. [applause] ♪ when the demonstrations for each candidate are completed, the roll call vote follows, sometimes decisive and other times a formality. in recent years, most candidates have received the necessary majority in the first ballot. for sample, john f. kennedy in 1960. wyoming votesn, to make majority for senator kennedy. [applause] >> finally, there are the acceptance speeches. in 1936, franklin d. roosevelt. >> i accept the commission you have tendered me. i join with you. [applause] ♪
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>> in 1948, strong third and fourth party movements significantly affected the outcome of the elections. with thomas e. dewey, the heavily favored republican candidate, competing with strom thurmond, the chief spokesman for the conservative states rights party, and henry wallace, the choice of the small but enthusiastic liberal progressive party, harry truman on the democratic ticket walked away from the election as the victor. this was one of the greatest electoral upsets in american history. ♪ national conventions are then a political process that is uniquely american. faces change, but there are always the crowds, music, speeches and suspense. after the candidates are chosen and the campaigns are ending, the people speak and through the
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ballot box determine who will assume the burden and power of the american presidency. ♪ >> steve, in looking at a film like this, i suppose there are some who would say well, this is all just tweedledum and tweedledee and really is not that important. elections do not really decide anything. what do you think? >> well, that passing parade of all those historical faces certainly suggests to me a personal response on one level to that question, dick. after all, an election by definition is a choice between two individuals. so when you ask yourself, does it make any difference between george mcgovern and richard nixon in 1972? would it have made any difference if the american people had chosen adlai stevenson instead of dwight d.
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eisenhower in 1952, or herbert hoover instead of franklin roosevelt in 1932? i think the answer is of course it would. there were very different people. an important part of our election system is with a fixed term we are electing people for , the future, for the next four years. and with one exception they will serve for four years, unless they die. now we don't know what is going to happen in the next four years. we do not ask candidates hypothetical questions, what would you do if the east germans built a wall across berlin? what would you do if the soviets placed a fence of missiles in cuba? we put these put these officials -- we put these individuals through elaborate process we hope that through pressures on them and exposure to them that we are going to find out something useful to us, in making this choice. dramatic examples would be suddenly, in 1952, it was discovered that the republican vice presidential candidate had a secret fund that was paying
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for his personal expenses. now there suddenly the potential -- presidential candidate, eisenhower, had to make a decision. we watched him make a decision. 1972 when the situation with eagleton, the vice presidential candidate of the democratic ticket, came up, a series of mental illnesses we do not know. and we watch the potential candidate, george mcgovern, make a decision. that was important to us in trying to judge how that person who we are giving this leadership to for a fixed four years is going to respond. so on that personal level, it's certainly makes a difference. dick: all right howard, let me , put same question to you. howard: let me begin by quoting david butler, great scholar of american, british, european politics, who once said it was more important in terms of domestic and foreign policy of the united states, who was
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president than it is to the british people who happens to be or which party happens to be elected. the presidency is so important an office in the united states. plays inthat he both domestic and foreign policy of leading the people becomes an item of tremendous importance. it becomes more dramatic i periodswhen you get in of crisis. everyone, southerners northerners, everyone else, , knew that something was very important about that 1860 election. the moment that election took place, you began to get a revolt in the south. this is one where, because of the crisis that existed, that everybody knew that there was a crisis. and the way it came out was the way in which the republic was going to go. happily, sometimes we have
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periods of peace, and quiet, and calm, and in those cases, the elections do not appear to be that exciting. and it may not make that much difference which one happens to get in. dick: i think it is certainly true if you are looking at the historical prospect of american elections. in 1860 it is very clear that a man other than lincoln elected under those conditions would have produced measurably different results in the long run. within 50 years results might've been the same. but certainly americans and that time and again in 1896, when bryan with the candidate on the free coinage of silver. this produced two generations of republican control. certainly in that sense it is very important. although i suppose listening to the language of the election and the election of 1976 too for that matter.
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we've talked about the candidates in a struggle perspective. what about the issues and what import they may have from the historical overview we are doing today? steve: this is where we most often hear that question of tweedledee and tweedledum. doesn't make any difference, because our parties are not heavily ideological. they do not appear, by the standards of some countries, to be very different. of course they are different and that each present a platform. the candidates each make a long series of speeches, which are commitments to the american people. now the history shows that by and large, they try to honor those commitments. they try to enact when in office the pledges their party makes. they cannot always do it and may find when the president is not wise, they were not good commitments they should have made. by and large a politician would
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prefer to honor commitments that n not to honor commitments. there are differences though they are not as sharp as in some other systems. dick: i'm sure this is true. when we look at the way in which, not the platforms of the parties, but the individual pronouncements of the candidate are seen, and you take the kind of issue we are going to get this year as we have in the past on 1000 different issues. what this man says, or woman says if we have a woman as candidate, it counts. not the platform, the platform is usually a generalized statement to which you can pay little or no regard. but you have seen it, howard, overseas, and you can make this comparison in countries like australia and britain and france and the rest. what would you think was the difference here between the kind of historic commitment we have had, and that of our friends over the water? howard: well it seems to me if periodme up again in a of crisis, you are going to get as clear and sharp a distinction between american parties as you do between the american
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candidates. 1932, goes back to the 1936 period, in 1932 what you got was a commitment from both candidates to solve the problem of unappointed depression. -- of unemployment and the depression. what you had happen between 1932 and 1936 with the development of a vast program which was very different than what had been the previous american programs. in 1936 aou then have sharp issue growing not so much out of speeches of 1932, as growing out of the impact of a president, in this case franklin roosevelt, on the economy, on the politics and the whole social life of the country. and this was the issue in 1936 and a very sharp on. an it i do think sharper th would be now in 1976? howard: yes because we were in the midst of a crisis, and we
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are not as easily in the midst of a crisis today. dick: what about fringe issues we care about for 1976 as we have earlier, abortion, gun control, school busing, prayers, a whole host of things above and beyond the economic circumstance? what role do they play and what role have they played in the past? steve: because we are such a large country, so diversified and so many groups and interests, candidates are forced to speak to this whole menu of issues. ironically, it does not make for the most useful democratic process, in that, in theory it would be better to have a campaign that focused on perhaps the half a dozen most important issues. but nevertheless, candidates are forced to make commitments because they try to appeal so broadly across the board. i tend to think that in rare
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exceptions, they are, as you say, fringe issues. our elections by and large are decided on bread and butter issues, economic issues, and the major issue of war and peace. these others are sideshows, very interesting, very useful in the whole development of a laundry list of legislation for the next congress and so forth, but in terms of the actual outcome of the election, i tend to think how good do you feel that you have it? do you have a job? do you think your future is bright? are we at war or peace? will we have to fight or not? dick: let me shift if i may to another thing we saw in looking at this film. there was technique. you saw these exciting scenes from the convention. you saw teddy roosevelt making a speech from the end of the train. you saw, i guess it was mr. coolidge fishing, or at least looking for fish or at least pictures of coolidge looking for fish. do you see any changes in 1976 looking back this panoply of
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history, do you see any changes in 1976 in campaign techniques and methods? steve: well much of it will be , the same. there is a real effort for the candidate in almost any democratic society to make some kind of contact with people at the human level. this is in part what they are trying to do. the convention is going to be a rallying round of partisans on both sides, as much in addition , to actually nominating the candidate. on the other hand it seems to me there had been some changes. some of the changes are the result of changes in the whole society. we have a greater dependence on the media than there would have been 50 years ago when it was not available. there will be less of the kinds of parades and that sort of things which dominated it 100 years ago. in other words what i am saying is, it has to change as the
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society and as the communication instruments -- instruments of communication change. then, to some extent, there is to some extent, because the candidates move around the country and are seen by everyone on television and heard on radio, they are forced to debate issues more clearly, state issues more clearly. debate them with others to a greater extent than they were forced to do prior to the coming of television or to the coming of radio. howard: let me take up the first because it is terribly interesting, and it tends to get overlooked. that is not the change for the continuity that we get now. we have the technology for the candidate not to have to leave the studio. he can appeal to 220 million people just by sitting in the chair. but they do not, they still go through the same rituals. the rituals change to a degree to reflect the changing e in technology. when you had radio, candidates
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started to use radio, and when you have television, candidates started to use television. what strikes me is the amazing similarities over time, rather than differences, which are differences in technique and response to new technical changes. dick: you know, someone once said if a doctor came back from to learn976, he has all the new techniques. if a lawyer can back, he would have to learn all the new cases. but a politician would be able to fit in much quicker because he would say, well, television. you got the theater, you can just do it in advance. isn't that nice? the human voice. you don't have to get someone with a full voice of his own to project to the back of a balcony. you can do it almost any way you want. but i am intrigued the mechanical changes, the technological changes, while
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they do of course affect the way in which to carry on the campaign, are not so major. finally just quickly what about , money? is that going to be vastly different this year? steve: it is going to be quite different this year. indeed one of the reason some of our candidates might stay longer whenmight be the case they're seeking the nominations, one of the reasons they may stay in is there is some government financing, some insurance that if they pick up a minimum amount of money that they can also get , some assistance from the federal government to help finance it. whether it also will be true that given the rules that must be in small quantities, may eliminate some people who might get the wealthy backer that once pushed forward people like stassen and others. i don't know. i don't think it is the wealthy backer that ordinarily put forth
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the men who ultimately became the president. in general once he became president, had a rather broad base of support in their own party, and often among independents as well, from whom they could get money. dick: and as you know they used , to say you need a good candidate, good issue, a good organization, good money, and good luck. and i suppose the other four are just as important as the money. and while the money counts and counts for good deal, and if i were a candidate, i would rather have it than not have it, it is not the thing which in the final analysis is going to control. you have got a good candidate and a good organization, whether 1830 or 1930, or 1976, that candidate is probably going to be able, in his seeking the presidency, to gather the kind of things that he actually needs in the way of money. there are two republican hopefuls in 1976. many more on the democratic side. here are some seeking the presidency in this 1976
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bicentennial presidential election. ♪ >> among the declared candidates for this, 48th u.s. presidential election are the incumbent, gerald r. ford. after becoming president following the resignation of former president nixon, is seeking an elected term to continue programs and policies his first 20 first months in office. ronald reagan, former governor of california and before that a film star. reagan is attempting to gain the republican party's nomination for president. his platform contends the federal government has become too large and powerful. ♪ among the democratic party candidates are jimmy carter, former governor of the state of georgia. he started as a peanut farmer and then turned politician. he is waging a campaign of personal contact that has lifted him from obscurity to national attention. glenn harris, a former u.s.
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senator from oklahoma is running a vigorous campaign with a strong youth backing. sergeant shriver, who helped create and later directed the peace corps under president john f. kennedy, served as u.s. ambassador to france during the johnson administration. he was the democratic vice presidential nominee in 1972. senator birch by of indiana, the dynamic young member of the u.s. senate, he has long enjoyed labor union support and achieved national attention with amendments providing for the 18-year-old boat and presidential succession. senator henry jackson of washington, better known as scoop jackson, has taken a strong position on major issues over his 34 years in congress. he is considered liberal on economic issues but a leading spokesman for military preparedness.
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morris k. udall from arizona, congressman for the past 16 years, has called -- homespun campaign image. he is working to gain national attention as a liberal in his bid for the presidential nomination. governor george wallace of alabama, one of the most colorful candidates is known for , his strong stand on the rights of the states. he campaigned in 1972 as an independent after losing the bed for the democratic party nomination. a crippling assassination attempt has not stopped him from a full schedule both as governor of alabama and presidential candidate. dick: one of the most perplexing questions about an american president election is how do the candidates get there? in other countries, there is usually a very carefully devised screening method by which the leadership comes up from the rank and file. it is a good deal more open and chaotic i suppose you might call it in the united states.
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howard, tell us how do i become , a candidate for president, if i want to be one? howard: if you want to be one, if you want to be a candidate, and you have the nerve and energy to do it, you simply declare yourself a candidate. if you need a few signatures to get on the ballot, you get the signatures, there's no problem getting on the ballot in any state in any of the primaries where they are held. i guess some notion of what the kinds of people are who have the interest and the desire and nerve to go out doing it, take a look at some of the kinds of people that are coming in this time. we have got three ex-governors who have been talking about it and participating. they are not absolutely unemployed as former governors, politics at not in the moment. they are not holding any public office nor had they campaigned for one until they decided to go for the presidency. you have a couple of ex-senators, former senators seeking the democratic
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nomination, one talking about running as an independent. and you have some senators holding office. a member of congress holding office. a former vice president. and a woman interested in preventing abortions. all of these people have decided they want to be president of the united states and have gone about campaigning and will participate in the primary elections. so it is probably more than anyplace else to go to your original suggestion. you're free to become one of the candidates if you want to. there is virtually nothing that bars you. you don't have to be in office. you do not have to have the endorsement of anybody in your party. it is useful to have it sometimes but you do not have to , have it. it is just free and open. that is all. steve: of course certain qualifications by law. our constitution says you have to be 35 years of age. you have to be a natural born citizen.
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there are certain traditions. over the years they tend to break down because we are basically a white anglo-saxon country. that tends to be the type of person who runs. but 1960, where we had never had a catholic president before, we had our first catholic president. there is talk, there was talk in 1972 of a jew running for vice president. there has been talk in 1976 of a black running for vice president. there have been women candidates coming along more frequently. what once were disabling quality or qualifications of a person have gradually been eliminated. dick: but you would agree that it is basically a matter of self declaration. what about self identification on the scale of political values, ideological thermometer? steve: that is a fascinating game, and it is a game that is
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akin to the old social game of musical chairs. there is a row of chairs, the players walk around, when the music stops, you have to sit in a chair. if you think of each chairs having an ideological chair from the left or right, when the music stops, each candidate tries to sit in one. since we are busily centrist country, the best chairs to sit and are in the middle. we start taking away chairs from the ends when the music starts again. a sort of classic example of this was in 1952 democratic nomination fight, averill harriman who not been known as a liberal in his earlier career, the music stopped and he sat in the liberal chair. alvin barclay had been a liberal most of his life, that tear -- that chair being occupied, he had to sit in the conservative chair. what we see right now in 1976 are the candidates moving the chairs trying to position themselves when the music stops to be able to sit in a good chair. steve: one doesn't want to
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suggest one changes philosophy as one goes by the chairs, so much as because some of the people after all have a fairly firm base of support in one ideological category or another. they are the fringe people that steve is talking about that frequently -- steve: because there is many, because there is so many candidates as opposed to other systems that have fewer the , candidates have to differentiate themselves from their opponents, the opposition and make this clear to the , public. in this way, they are trying to be conservative in one a little less conservative. it is that jockeying. dick: and don't you perhaps always have this problem? the candidate takes one position nomination,arty's in the center of his party perhaps, but the center of his party is not necessarily the
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center of the republic. he takes another position moving, let's be charitable saying he doesn't change his views but lets the light of truth shine on a different aspect of political beliefs. gentlemen, i want to thank you for being here with us in washington. mr. stephen hess and mr. howard. ins is richard scalon washington. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] ♪ ♪
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♪ announcer: during the presidential election year of 1976, the u.s. information agency makes programs about the election process for foreign audiences with documenting the election and place 1976 in historical context. next, from march 12, 1976, the second episode in the series, election 1976, the primaries. three political analysts discussed the nominating process and results that year when ronald reagan was challenging gerald ford fo


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