The Democrats still stunned by the assasination of President Kennedy nominated President Johnson at their convention in Atlantic City by acclamation. The Republican nomination was contested by conservative Senator Barry Goldwater from Arizona and liberal Republican Nelson Rockefeller from New York. The convention chose Goldwater on the first ballot. Govenor Rockefeller was seen as too liberal. Senator Goldwater promised to offer Americans "a choice and not an echo". And he did just that in the course of the campaign. He proposed the use of tactical nuclear weapons in Vietnam if required. He indicated that he would make deep cuts in spending, especially social programs. He wanted to sell the Tennessee Valley Authority--a New Deal darling. He opposed the civil rights legislation. And he dared to challenge Social Security, suggesting it should be made voluntary. He was the last Republican to take on Social Security. President Johnson campaigned on the Great Society social programs and a limited involvement in Vietnam. The major issues were social programs nd civil rights. Vietnam played only a minor role. The campaign was the most ideologically oriented campaign since 1932. The interevening elections were primarily decided on the electorates assessment of the candidate's character and image. The Democrats stressed President Johnson's social programs and charged that Senator Goldwater was weckless. They ran a notable advertisement with a nuclear explodion. President Johnson won a huge electoral mandate. Senator Goldwater, however, layed the foundation for reengerizing the conservative movement within the Republican Party.
The Civil Rights mivenebt had a long history. It was only after Workld War II, howevr, that the movemrnt began to make real inroads in the segregtionist Jim Crow system erected in the Southern states. President Roosevelt had laid the foundatiin by nominating Federal judges with progressive outlooks and in a landmark outlawing Executive Order outlawed descrimination in war industries. After the War, President Truman took the next major step when he ended racial decrimination in the military (1948). A little known Minnesota mayor, Hubert Humprey, launched the political effort in the Demicratic Party with a stirring speech at the Democratic Convention (1948). As axresult, the Dixiecrats led by Govenor Strom Thurmond walk out. This was the begiining of cracking the Democratic hild on the solid South. Congress was unable to deal with the issue because of the ability of southern Sentors to block actin in the Senate. It was the Suprememe Court that strucj down racial seegergation with the Brown vs. Topeka ddecision (1954). Actual desegragation was delayed by state and local resistance. The Kenndy Administratiin was primarily concerned with Cold war issues, but violence in the Southern states forced them to ct, most notably at the University of Mississippi (1963). The political repercussions were that the President coukd no longer count on the Solid South in his reelection campaign.
President Kennedy at the urging of Texas Democrats travelled to Dallas Texas on a campaign trip (November 22, 1963). Vice-President Johnson had helped carry Texas un the 1960 election. Carrying Texas was critical for the President's reelection. The administration actions in civil rights had hurt Kennedy's standing in the South where Blacks were not yet able to vote in many areas. Texas was a hybred Southern-Western state and the Somocrats still hoped to carry it in 1964. President Kennedy and the First Lady were accompanied by Governor John Connally and his wife, Nellie as they motorcaded through Dallas. They were traveling in open cars. The President wanted as much contact with the local people as possible. Reaching Dealey Plaza, the presidential limousine was fired upon three times. Governor Connally was hit once. President Kennedy who was hit twice. He was rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital where he was declared dead. The assasin fired from the Dallas Schoolbook Despository. He was an employee, Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald was a mentally distubed former Marine who had earlier defected to the Soviet Union and had been in Cuba. The Soviets expelled him because of his mental problems, but he married while in the Soviet Union. He had become a champion of the Castro regime in Cuba. After his arrest, while being trabnsferred to another jail, he was shot and jilled by nightclub owner Jack Ruby. Vice-President Johnson and Mrs. Kennedy flew back to Washington with the President's corpse on Air Force 1. Johnson took the oath of office on the flight. Peoples in the hundreds of thousands of people filed pass the President Kennedy's coffin in the rotunda of the Capitol (November 24). Mrs. Kenndy modeled the funeral on the that for Presidebnt Kincoln with a riderless horse. The President was buried at Arlington Cemetery (November 25). Representatives from 92 nations attended the services. As many as a million people lined the streets of Washington as the funeral procession passed. The assasination was for countless Americans the traumatic public event they experienced. s of their lifetimes. Conspiracy theorists have turned the assasination into a cottage industry. President Johnson appointed a Commission headed by Supreme Court chief justice Earl Warren to investigate the assasination. The House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded that there were at least three shots fired, not two as the Warren Commission had claimed (1979). It conformed that it was Oswald who fired all three shots.
Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson had come to office less than a year before the 1964 election as a result of the Kennedy Assaination. Johnson was a Washington power broker par excellence. He had come to Washington as a young Congressman and stanch supporter of President Roosevekt's New Deal (1936). After six terms in the House, Johnson was elected to the Senate in 1948. Johnson in 1953, he became the youngest Minority Leader in Senate history, and the following year, when the Democrats won control, Majority Leader. He was one of the most masterful if not the most masterful majority leaders in Senate history. He worked closely with aide Bobby Baker. With rare legislative skill he worked with the Eisenhower Administration to push through several important bipartisan measures. Senator Kennedy as a junior Senator played a minor role in the Senate during the 1950s. Translating his legislative skills into vote-winning support outside iof Texas proved difficult. He was unable to match Senator Kennedy's charisma and did not do well in the 1960 primaries. Accepting the vice-pressidency was thus a difficult decesion for Johnson and a major come down for the energetic Johnson. It is unlikely he could have ever won the Democratic nominmtion from his Senate power base. And Kennedy may not have won the election without Johnson. From the beginning there was tensiin between Jonson and the Kennedy people, especiallly the President'd brother Robert who had opposed offering him the vice-presidency. After the assassination of his predecessor, Johnson managed to successfully associate himself with Kennedy's popularity. President Kennedy's people were heartbroken. And there were problems. Robert Kennedy, despite his personal dislike of Johnson, attempted to force the new president to accept him as his running mate. Kennedy found it was best not to ply politics with Johnson. The President avoided this threat by announcing that none of his cabinet members would be considered for the vice-presidential nomination. There wa, howevr, no immedate break with the new president. PresdentbJohnson continued the Kennedy legislative inititives and with his unique legislative skills probabky du=id btter abnd getting it passed than President Kennedy could have dine. The greatest priority was given to the Civil Rights legislation. The land-mark legislation would be enacted in the middle of the electiin campign (July 1964).
After the President's asssasination, Republican leaders called for a political moratorium. They did not want to appear disrespectful to the slain President. There was no need for this on the Democraric side as the now President Lyndon Johnson would face no seruius political opposition, but he did face some disenion within the party. Little politicking, however, occurred until January 1964. This was when the primary season officially began.
President Johnson faced no serious opposition for the nomination. He competed in the primries primarily to build up his delegate count so he would be in firm control of the Convention. He was particularly concerned about a floor fight on the contentious issue of civil rights. Southern delegates opposed the Kennedy Administration's civil rights actions. Many civil rights leaders were unsure about the new President's commitment to civil rights, especially as he was from a southern state. Segregationist Alabama Governor George Wallace entered Democratic primaries in some northern and border states. He fared surprisingly well in several of those primaries (Indiana, Maryland, and Wisconsin) running against most favorite son candidates who were stalking horses for President Johnson. All favorite-sons, however, won their primaries. In California Yorty lost to Brown.
The 1960 election betwen Senator Kennedy and Vice-President Nixon was so close that it was assumed that 1964 woukd be a rematch. Vice President Nixon in the interim ran for governor of California and lost. In a press contfernnce he told reporte that they 'would not have Dick Nixon to kick around any more'. He then exited public life--for a while. This left the Republican field wide open. Nixon and Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York had reached an accord in the Govenor's Fifth Avenue apartment on the 1960 Republican platform. One conservative referred to his as 'Munich in Manhattan'. Rockefeller was the leading candidate for 1964, but that accord had so enfuriated conservatives that he encountered considerable resistance in his 1964 run.
The Republican convened at the Cow Paloace in San Franciso. The nomination had been contested by conservative Senator Barry Goldwater from Arizona and liberal Republican Nelson Rockefeller from New York. Senator Goldwater had cinched the nomination before the convention. The convention chose Goldwater on the first ballot. Govenor Rockefeller was seen as too liberal. When Rockefeller tried to add a plank ti the platform denoucing extremism, it was roundly voted down. The Conventioin chose Congressman William E Miller of New York for the Party's vice presidential candidate. Senator Goldwater in his acceotance speech promised to offer Americans "a choice and not an echo". And he did just that in the course of the campaign.
The Democrats held their Convention in Atlantic City. One of the major events at the Convention involved the seating of the Mississippi delegation. The integrated Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) claimed the seats for delegates for Mississippi. It was not an issue of Party rules. The MFDP charged that the official Mississippi delegation had been elected by a Jim Crow primary in which blacks were not allowed to participate.
The Convention results was a foregone conclussion. Still stunned by the assasination of President Kennedy nominated President Johnson by acclamation. President Johnsoin choese Minnesota senator and liberal stalwart Hubert Humprey as his vice-presedential running mate. Because of a lapse in the Constitution, after Vice president Johnson became president, there had been no vice-president.
President Johnson managed to paint Senator Barry Goldwater as a right-wing legislator who was wreckless in foreign affairs and a reactionary on domestic issues. The very honest Goldwater gave the President plenty of ammunition. Senator Goldwater proposed the use of tactical nuclear weapons in Vietnam if required. He indicated that he would make deep cuts in spending, especially social programs. He wanted to sell the Tennessee Valley Authority--a New Deal darling. And he made the suggestion in Tennessee. He opposed the civil rights legislation. And he dared to challenge Social Security, suggesting it should be made voluntary. Social Security had been long accepoted as the third-rail of American politics. Senator Goldwater was nothing if not hoinest, but he was hrdly politically astute. This he suggested in Florida, a state with a heavy concentration of retirees. He was the last Republican to take on Social Security. President Johnson campaigned on the Great Society social programs and a limited involvement in Vietnam. The major issues were social programs and civil rights. Vietnam played only a minor role. The campaign was the most ideologically oriented campaign since 1932. Much of the activity campaigning was done by Senatoir Humphrey. The interevening elections were primarily decided on the electorates assessment of the candidate's character and image. The Democrats stressed President Johnson's social programs and charged that Senator Goldwater was wreckless. They ran a notable advertisement with a nuclear explosion.
President Johnson won a huge electoral mandate. He won 486 electioral votes to Senator Goldwater's 52, an astounding 90 percent of the Electoral College and over 60 percent of the popular vote. President Johnson swept the electoral map, except for the deep-south and Arizona. This was a huge shift in American politics. Since the Civil War, the Democratic Party could always count on the South. It was a key component of President Roosevelt's New Deal coaltion. Beginning with the 1964 election, the South would become the core of thge political support for the Reoublican Party. Senator Goldwater layed the foundation for reengerizing the conservative movement within the Republican Party.
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