United States presidential election, 1968

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Contents

The Contenders

Former Vice-President Richard M. Nixon of California, residing in NY, Republican

Vice-President Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota, Democrat

Former Governor George Corley Wallace of Alabama, American Independent

The Issues

Vietnam War; rapidly changing social climate; Civil Rights

The Result

In January 1968, Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy mounted a challenge against sitting President Lyndon Johnson in the New Hampshire primary. The rabidly anti-war McCarthy came within 8 points of Johnson and was given a "moral victory" by the press. Johnson decided against seeking a second full term soon after, and his withdrawal attracted a brace of challengers-- New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy (the brother of the slain President), and Vice-President Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota. The Democratic primary was literally a bloody war: shortly after winning the California primary, Robert Kennedy was shot by a Palestinian activist. At the convention in Chicago, anti-war protests resulted in beatings and arrests; meanwhile, Chicago mayor Richard Daley and Connecticut Senator Abe Ribicoff got into a screaming match while the cameras were rolling. With Kennedy out of the running, Humphrey was able to secure the nomination and ran on a pro-war platform. Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine became his running mate.

On the Republican side, Richard Nixon fought off New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, California Governor Ronald Reagan, and Michigan Governor George Romney, and was nominated at the convention. Nixon adopted a plan for an honorable withdrawal from Vietnam; as his running mate, he picked the roughneck Maryland Governor Spiro Agnew.

Nixon devised a "Southern Strategy" and designed his campaign to appeal to the "Silent Majority", the white suburban class. Meanwhile, former and future Governor George Wallace of Alabama mounted a third-party American Independent bid in order to oppose the federal-mandated intergation of public institutions. Wallace drew support from the yellow-dog Southern Democrats, who would have supported Humphrey, and the new Southern Republican, whose vote would have gone to Nixon.

In the end, Nixon managed to eke out a narrow victory over Humphrey, polling 43 percent to Humphrey's 42. Wallace secured the vote of several Deep South states, including his home state of Alabama.

See also

v·e·d

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