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tv   Reel America Election 1976 - The Candidates the Campaign  CSPAN  October 26, 2020 11:29pm-11:59pm EDT

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a u.s. american agency program
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-- in 1976 the presidential campaign was explained to international audiences. >> governor carter again is talking in broad generalities. >> i think this is an instance of deliberate disclosure. >> if mr. carter alleges that his voting by signing that is done, he is inaccurate. >> governor carter again contradicts himself. >> mr. ford i think confused the issue. >> let me correct one other comment governor carter has made. >> the title question is one that has been confused by mr. ford. >> again, governor carter is inaccurate.
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♪ ♪ >> election 1976, the candidates and the campaign. >> with me in our studios today are professor howard penniman of georgetown university, mr. stephen hess of the brookings institution. we have talked of many different aspects of this 1976 american presidential bicentennial year, starting with the primaries back in the winter and going straight to the conventions and the rest. this afternoon, we want to talk
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about the nature of the campaign, what the campaign is, what it tries to do, how the party organizes. let me turn first, if i may, to professor penniman and ask him the simplest question -- why? >> the answer is a good many things, but i guess the parties at the state and local level. got them working to bring out the vote, working to get voters registered, working to get the candidates known, working to get the issues insofar as there are sharp issues dividing, known. it has become of special importance in the united states because we don't have elections simply because there are issues or when we have elections, there may not be issues that are sharply dividing.
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we have president elected in november every four years with no regard as to if there are or are not issues. if there are sharp issues that divide the country, there's still an election. because of the fixed election, it seems to me that there is a kind of special problem of activating the local organizations which are normally concerned only with local problems and state issues, not with national issues, this is a special problem particularly if the issues are not sharp, of getting voters aware of what problems there are and to get those voters to come out later on in the polls. >> we are a great deal about the decline of the american party machinery in the last generation. i'm sure we can all agree there's a great deal of truth
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in it. how has this affected the campaign? do we have a new style of campaigning or a new kind of campaign organizer or manager different from the sort of party campaigns so well-known in western europe? >> of course we have now, among other reasons for the decline, television. at one time, the only way you learned about your candidate was through your neighborhood party official. now you learn directly from seeing the candidate on television, so with the rise of television has come the rise of the television expert, and with the decline of the party has come a substitute, that is the professional campaign consultant who sells his services. we have direct primaries for the nomination of candidates. we no longer have been chosen by party leaders. we have government giving so
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many of the services that the parties gave. once in the united states, if you were unemployed, you went to your party. if you were unemployed, -- if you were hungry, you went to the party. at one time in the united states, the socialized urban center was gathered around the clubhouse of the political party. you went there in the evening to have a good time. now there are so many forms of free entertainment clearly -- free entertainment. clearly, our parties are declining, and these experts, technicians, consultants, services for higher have a place in it. >> would you agree that as you look at this general development, particularly in the last 30 years since the end of the war, that the party role in the campaign has become little more than sort of a label, sort of a holding company, and the actual campaign itself depends
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entirely on the candidate and his resources and his purposes and his personnel, and that the party, as such, makes a much smaller contribution than many of our friends in, say, western europe and other democratic countries around the world might be used to? >> so far, the president sets up his own organization and almost entirely runs his own campaign with his own hired campaign manager and staff. carter's campaign this year is not only not being run out of washington but being run out of his home city of atlanta. the party committees really do the housekeeping chores. >> it seems to me as one looks at this campaign, this is almost, in the primaries particularly, the triumph of individual organizations.
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if you are a candidate, and you began back last year to set up a campaign apparatus with media consultants and time buyers and speechwriters, and it is successful and wins you the nomination, then, obviously, you are going to keep on these people. they have done something right and gotten you through the primaries and convention and you are there, and if a party apparatus in washington were to come to you and say, "well, now, we are going to provide you with all these services, " you would just brush them aside and say that you have people you have confidence in. why should, as you suggest, i even manage my campaign from washington? i will manage it the way i did when i was successful. nothing succeeds like success in politics or anything else. we may very well see further atrophy of campaign management on the part of parties as such, except in fairly specialized local conditions. >> i think this is almost certainly true. they don't even bother to name
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the head of their campaign as the chairman of the national committee, which they use to. at the level of actually campaigning, presenting the candidate, of talking about the issue, it is bound to go, i think, more and more into the hands of the people initially hired by the candidate. he will pick up some of the people from opponents where he is trying to build his fences with other opponents, but the campaign will be lead and run basically by his own people. one thing it leaves undone is this kind of traditional thing, which is important in the united states, and that is getting people registered and getting them out to the polls on election day. registration, since it is a
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voluntary thing in the united states, where each individual has to go to register himself -- he is not registered by any state or local organization, he has to do it on his own, it takes some initiative on his part, and it used to be that the party organization would get around and get him out to registration. as local organizations atrophy, it becomes more of a persuading job without anybody coming around to knock on your door, to ring your telephone to get you out. >> unless we change and adopt a canadian/european system of automatic registration. but let's take a look now at some of the specific things involved in an american campaign and see some of the visual presentation of the kind of thing that we have been
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talking about before this 1976 american bicentennial presidential year. >> the campaign this year has been marked, as always, by attempts to reach the greatest number of voters in the shortest amount of time. both president ford and governor carter have used unusual methods to communicate with the american voter. the president traveled on the mississippi river in an old steam paddleboat while governor carter traveled on a special campaign train, making brief stops across the midwest. ♪ ♪ but for the most part, each candidate used more traditional campaign techniques. they rode in motorcades, ate at political dinners, spoke to housewives in supermarkets, workers at factories, and appealed to ethnic, economic, and political interests across the nation. highlighting this year's campaign have than appearances of the candidates on a series
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of televised presidential debates. the second debate concluded with these remarks. >> i remember a world of nato and a world of the marshall plan and a world of the peace corps. if we have that once again, we ought to be a beacon for nations who search for peace, who search for freedom, who search for individual liberty, who search for basic human rights. we can be once again. we will never have that world leadership until we are strong at home, and we can have that
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strength if we return to basic pencils. it ought to be a cry of strength based on the integrity of our people to dig into the constitution and an innate, strong will of purpose god has given us in the greatest nation on earth. >> as we have seen tonight, foreign policy and defense policy are difficult and complex issues. we can debate methods. we can debate one decision or another, but there are two things which cannot be debated -- experience and results. in the last two years, i have made policy decisions involving long-range difficulties in policy and made day-to-day judgments not only as president of the united states, but as the leader of the free world. what is the result of that
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leadership? america is strong. america is free. america is respected. not a single young american today is fighting or dying on any foreign battlefield. america is at peace with freedom. >> we talked about some of the aspects of campaigning and you've seen some of the campaign activities in an american presidential campaign year. let's consider some of the things the campaign is directed at, in this year specifically. what are the motivations of the voter which this campaign seeks to develop, seeks to convince the elector of the office to
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support? what are the basic sources of voter motivation that we ought to be considering today in terms of 1976? >> the most important single source today, as it has been is the identification of individuals with the party label, and while it is true that the parties involved are not doing much as organizations, nonetheless, the voters of the country continue to identify either with the democratic party or republican party, or a very sizable group identify themselves as independents. quickly hurt a good deal about
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it in the last 10 or 15 years -- what's called ticket splitters, people who vote for a republican on one side, senator on the democratic side, governor on the democratic side or republican side for independent side, moving all over their ballot for various ideological or personal reasons. how has this affected this party label loyalty you were speaking of? >> party label loyalty is of extraordinary importance when one is dealing with the lower end of the ticket, so to speak. it is more important than any other single thing, even for the vote for the presidency, but it becomes a lot less true that the presidential level for the gubernatorial because the
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candidates are on television, and voters have had a chance to make in their own judgments of them. there is not any of the other levels, and it is at this point a candidate hopes they can draw the independent to them. in fact, the republican candidate for the presidency has the independents who support him but has to cut some into the democratic stronghold in order to be able to win, and republican candidates have been able to do that 4 out of the last six presidential elections. that is part of what is going on right now. ford is doing his best not only to appeal to republicans, but he's got to pick up the independents. polls show he is ahead in independents, but he still has to pick up some of those who vote for the democratic label. >> 4 years ago in 1972, the great thrust of the nixon landslide was the fact that president nixon, republican nominee, could win 1/3 of
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democratic odors, could get 1 out of 3 of professing self identifying democrats. do you think there's any possibility this year that president ford can do that? >> we expect this to be an unprecedented election, unlike 1972, which was a landslide. there are two democrats for every one republican. the two -- the number two democrats for everyone republican. so it's no surprise the poster for governor carter says vote democratic. the poster for president ford does not mention the word republican. the job for president ford is to play down his party identification, to win over those in the opposition party or of no party whereas clearly the job for mr. carter is to simply get out to vote all of those who consider
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themselves democratic. if he does this, he will win. in the past, democrats lose when they are divided. the party has a great ideological division, as it had in 1972, or when the republicans up a charismatic leader such as dwight eisenhower in 1952 and 1956, or the third factor might be when a democrat serving in the white house has done something that gives people reason not to vote for him or for his party, so these are the factors that by a large take away from the possibility of a democratic three, and we have to weigh these factors in terms of 1976 where the democratic party is not divided, where president ford is not known as a charismatic leader, and where there has not been a democrat
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in the white house, so given this, we see one party playing at the democratic label, one candidate, the other not playing up his party label. >> we hear a great deal about the personal factor in american politics, the coup de grace of a successful personal appeal or the factor when someone makes a mistake. how much does this -- obviously, it affects the party orientation -- the party label orientation of the voter. how much does it really change this other than for an obvious person like general eisenhower, to whom the personality thing and the fact of people feeling comfortable with him must have
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been the major epic of his triumph. do you think in 1976 there will be an appeal that president ford can make personally, which would override the democratic majority -- or plurality, in the same sense that president nixon in 1972 could attack the ideological position of senator mcgovern to override that democratic plurality? >> no, mr. hess makes a correct point that here is a campaign in which both people, more or less knew the center of the american political spectrum, and at the same time, there are no issues sharply dividing a country like the vietnam war or roman catholicism or civil rights. some of these really sharply divided the parties. the problem under these circumstances is a slightly
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different one, and it is to get the voters interested enough to get them out. if you don't see any great difference between them, why then come out? in this, democrats have the advantage where the -- with the actual registration majority but the disadvantage of theirs are the ones least likely to come out. they include the young, who are least likely of all to vote. any new registrant in any country is least likely to come out and the full timers who have been use to it see it as part of their duty, but then it's also true that people who are in the lower income groups and who are less educated are less likely to come out, and these people are by and large of one party. democrats have the advantage and disadvantage.
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with this kind of an eventful election, one without sharp device ian. >> but without strong ideology rearing its head, we again stress the degree that personality plays a part in american politics, far more so than in most other countries, so the past with president ford has to be to show that he has the character and the personality that is more acceptable to the american people than his opponent, especially when you consider that half of american elections are very close, and this one could very well be close, and in this case, any small boo-boo could very well make a difference. the thing about our campaign is that it goes on for so long and
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is so covered in the press and other media so that it is a constant probing of the true personalities of a candidate, especially in the absence of sharp issues. >> would you agree -- someone once said that they would not go quite so far as -- winston churchill once said of his political opponent that he was a modest man with a lot to be modest about, but would you agree that in this effort to maintain this interposition in the debates and in the general approach to the campaign, both candidates appear to have been very careful -- little flamboyance, little broad sweeping promises, little in the way of something that is unqualified -- and that the tendency of this kind of campaign without excitement, without general public
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bitterness, without great surging emotions, has perhaps been to cut down our reverter -- our voter turnout this year? >> i think this is undoubtedly true, though one should note that sometimes the response even in a bitter campaign is for some democrats or some republicans to stay home. they cannot bring themselves to vote for the opposition and they stay home. >> we had a rather light turnout in 1972. i think basically the ones who did not turn out, aside from the young, were those who could not bring themselves to vote republican but at the same time could not bring themselves to vote for the democratic candidate. >> we have talked about these candidates. we talked about their campaigns
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and their personalities. how are they doing? this is the last program we are going to have, you know, before the election, and i don't want to put a gun to your head and say which one is going to win, but how are they doing? >> i don't think either candidate is doing particularly well, which is partly why we keep saying this is a dull campaign. they have not interested us in the issues. it it's their strategies to be in the center, and president ford has the advantage, which is an important advantage within the minority party, of being an incumbent, which means he plays up the fact that he is
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presidential. this keeps them from being flamboyant. he is telling us he is the president, has been president for two years, they are doing pretty well under him, let's continue. mr. carter, on the other hand, with the advantage of being the democrat, a member of the majority party, does not want to do anything very much that would rock the boat, so it is in his interests not to be controversial, if you will. the end result to date has been a campaign in which maybe you might wish to call it traditional -- certainly many commentators today call it dull. >> with that very firm production as to the results, we want to point out that this is the last of these discussions before the actual voting on november 2 in this bicentennial presidential election year. in our next program which will follow the election, we will try to discuss with you what happened and, hopefully, why it happened. this is richard scanlon in washington with professor howard penniman of georgetown university and mr. stephen hess of the brookings institution.
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up next on american history tv, georgia governor jimmy carter accepting the democratic nomination at the 1976 democratic convention.


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