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This is a federal case from Washington D.C. the National Educational radio network brings you an examination of current issues facing our nation and its capital city. Here is any R.E.M. correspondent AMS Ill let me just simply say that through a lifetime of association. But some outstanding people. There is no dearth of potential in terms of candidacy for the nomination for president vice president our party. It's a selection process that we will undertake in due course but in the meantime as I've suggested to many over the last several months that this is an open matter in my judgment and will remain an open matter in the 1072 And I think it's healthy. That was Lawrence of brown and the chairman of the Democratic National Committee with you on how the field of Democratic candidates for the presidency in 1972 was shaping up. This program was about the beginnings of that campaign for the Democrats the first dragoon for position among potential
presidential candidates to run against the incumbent Richard Nixon. But that's two years away and you may be thinking nevertheless from Larry O'Brien. It's none too whirly he is feeling good these days. Here's why he thinks it's the right time to be talking about the Democrats from the November 3rd election we have gained opportunity. We see daylight in refurbishing reorganizing revitalizing the Democratic Party there is without question a decided change for the better an attitude across this nation among Democrats. There is a discernible to me a splendid opportunity for us to bring into active participation in our party. Thousands of arrested and concerned Americans. I think I can sum it up by saying that six months ago I did have
confidence in the return of the Democratic Party to is the position I think it should be and in the nation. But I wondered about the timetable and you could envision perhaps years to bring this about the election results have brought us to a position where we know we can accomplish our objectives in rather short order because the climate is right. The attitudes of people across the country the attitude you like to see. And we do now have a truly national Democratic Party let's remember we have a majority of the governorships. We have clear majorities in the House and Senate. And we have in the White House a man that's vulnerable. It's not just Larry O'Brien who was thinking about the future of the Democratic Party. Already four Democratic senators have set up preliminary campaign offices in the Capitol to begin exploring their political strength. State by State and of beefed up their knowledge in fields where their experience has been limited and when
musky is engaged in this process. So was George McGovern. Their offices don't have big signs in front yet but they're in business. Even so they're all views and Birchbox I don't have as a labrat operations underway yet. These four men have been mentioned as possible candidates to run against Richard Nixon two years from now. One man who was not set up a special political campaign office the senator elect Hubert Humphrey. But Larry O'Brien in his role as chairman of the Democratic National Committee is very diplomatic about possible candidates. But there is a tradition of neutrality on the part of the national chairman. I think it's fair the way it should be. Certainly I am neutral in this regard. There are a number of potential candidates for the presidency as far as I know all of them are old friends and associates of mine at least so far. Never engaged in the exercise of developing a long
list of those that are in the running or those that are out of the running I rather think that you would if you engage in that kind of exercise you'd find that you would overlook some significant aspects of this and some significant candidates potentially regarding Mr. Humphrey here. He had an outstanding win in Minnesota is returning the United States Senate. Beyond that I would hope people would know that in his victory a Democrat was elected the governor of Minnesota a fine young fellow. We picked up an additional House seat in Minnesota so I would say this and go home free and moving along very well. And what his plans are for the future I do not know what Hubert Humphrey told me in a telephone interview was that he would not seek the presidency in 1972. I will not enter any primaries unquote. But if for some reason the nomination was offered to him at the convention
he added that he would not refuse it. He was more eager to talk on the telephone about what the party as a whole lost do. Well the first thing I think to try to bring or bring our party together. I am an object. The division of nike air that had a great deal to do with our defeat. And if that division would continue with in 1972 I think it would work very would work against that to be very serious and as you know Jim back there for number one let's try to unite our party as best we can and break not only a united party but to continue to extend our hand of cooperation to the other groups that have worked with us so well over the years. The members of organized labor the blue collar worker in Decatur they black have members of the black community young people
Humphreys idea to bring the party together is not a low. You'll hear it again. It is the theme of every Democratic politician trying to get Larry O'Brien to talk about any one Democrat to be Mr. Nixon and he says I don't think you can just try to take a risk or own project in the future. I think the best way to describe the situation now is open matter. That originate a lock on the presidency or vice presidency Senator Byrd's bae of Indiana has had his name mentioned for the president for almost a year now. Ever since he managed the Senate rejections of two of President Nixon's Supreme Court nominees as well. When I asked for the senator's biography a few clippings from newspapers around the country suggesting that Senator Biden would make a good president. Here's what I said himself when I asked him in the middle of a
noisy fundraising party if he was interested in running. It's been rather interesting to listen to some of the speculation this is not an easy step to take. I really don't know. I just have to be very frank with you I'm very dissatisfied with the present occupant of the White House not as an individual but the fact that I think he's tearing our country apart and he's really not asking us to be better than we are which I think we can be is really directing us along the high road but rather along the river a little road and as a result we're never really going to bring the resources and particularly the personal individual citizen. Resources to bear on the problems and less out of them with this type of leadership. So we have to have a change. Senator Harold Hughes of Iowa has also been mentioned as a presidential possibility and he acknowledged that he'd heard the rumor in South he didn't want to talk about the campaign office he's opened up perhaps because he didn't want to look like that either.
Well I'm flattered that they consider me a potential possibility for the presidency or to seek the nomination but I'm practical about facing the realities of doing that I'm a dark horse and truest sense of the word you know a long way back in the running and it would be probably at least a year before I would want to come to any final decisions as to whether I should attempt to enter any primaries. Seek the nomination by any other means so at this point I just wanted the best job as I can as a senator and proceed and hope that that's satisfactory to the people of Iowa and that I can be helped some helped my country in the process. Like all other Democrats on this program Senator Hugh talks about the party's first priority. We're becoming more divided more polarized and have less understanding. We don't know how to feel each other anymore in America. We you know we don't know how to live in a state of joy. We seem to live in a state of constant pain. First of all we have to stay together. That's at all
possible in the party as big as ours and as diverse as our philosophical thoughts are in the Democratic Party that itself is going to be difficult. I think a lot of us have to realize where the really conservative wing of the Democratic Party or the liberalism of them Credit party or a middle of the roader in the Democratic Party and we have three that the primary objective is that united we can offer a better administration to the people of America and the world than the Republican administration is doing. Ramsey Clark attorney general under Lyndon Johnson was in Alliance government I tried to phone him but he's been mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate mostly by members of the liberal press. I asked Larry O'Brien what he knew all I know about Ramsey's attitude toward this is what I've read here and I keep saying we have a close association each instance of that is that the truth of course you and I were Cabinet colleagues and Ramsey has been helpful to us in some of our
programs and giving us some ideas and views that we hope to pursue during the next two years as to the presidency I have read what you just indicated. But I've had no conversation with Ramsey in that regard. All I can say to you is that my close association with him and the government and it was a close association certainly indicated to me that on the record clearly that he was an outstanding public servant whether he has or desires to. Re-engage in public life I don't know then because it is difficult to talk about the presidency these days without mentioning a candidate. Even if this one Senator Ted Kennedy tells you he doesn't discuss politics and even though he has said a number of times recently that he won't run for the presidency. You have to do something so I asked Larry O'Brian regarding a centric candidate.
I've noted his statements repeated statements some of them rather clunky I think every stating that as I recall. Unequivocally under no circumstances would we entertain the thought of seeking the nomination for the presidency. I accept that. I should old friend. And by the same token we must also recognize that he is truly a national leader in the Democratic Party. It's a tremendous area of support here across the country. And whether he changes his position which has been strongly stated repeatedly I don't know. But at the moment that is his position. Senator George McGovern of South Dakota has said that he is probably going to announce for the presidency early in 1971 he has a campaign office already established just down the street from a Senate office building and it is
headed by a former Kennedy campaigner Gary hart hart as McGovern strategist. Here's determining everything from where the senator needs to travel to become better known within the country to what the contributions must be to right areas the senator needs to speak out in more. Here Gary Hart explains why George McGovern is planning to announce his candidacy. So we're really I think the reason is beyond behind that early announcement. Have to do with them with what I think the senator believes is going on in this country that is the people want honesty and candor and straightforwardness from their leaders. And I think that up to now we've had a situation where people start running. That is you know literally running for the nomination for the presidency. And they go through endless press conferences where they are questioned about their intentions and they say well I'm looking at it or I'm considering it and so on and so forth. And everyone knows that they're running. And I think people just today would like for a man to
stand up and say here's who I am and here's what I'm doing and here's what I intend to do. And then going about his business and do it. And I think that's what would be one strong reason behind an early declaration really is what we're talking about is just saying what if what you're doing anyway. I think people appreciate that. Gary Hart agrees with Larry O'Brien of a number of other Democrats who believe that Richard Nixon is vulnerable in the White House and likely to become increasingly so. But he adds why McGovern seems to him to be an appropriate challenger. First of all I believe that at this point a number of Democratic national figures could win the presidency against Richard Nixon. And I don't see circumstances changing particularly or our foreign involvements and the economic situation drastically enough to. To salvage this administration I believe that there is a strong likelihood that a Democrat will be elected in 1972
as to the senator's role. I believe that he feels he has spoken out on the issues which now confront this country for a long long period of time a number of years and has written widely as published articles and books and spoken on the floor of the Senate addressing himself to the problems of Southeast Asia our economic situation pointed to health hunger in this country a number of other vital domestic and international issues which I believe recent history has proved him to be quite prophetic on. And I think it's people of the United States will vote for a man who is courageous who has spoken out who is straightforward with his his point of view and finally I think the most important thing is who will do what Richard Nixon promised to do a
968 that is to bring the country together again I think that's really the issue. Confronting all of us is how a leader a national leader can emerge and bring together all the segments of society which are presently in conflict. Next Gary Hart even though he is Senator McGovern's man gives an assessment of the lineup of Democratic candidates for the presidency. At this point I I don't think there's any question that Senator Muskie's is the so-called front runner at this point I don't take that too seriously because of the time I think of if this were. November or December of nine hundred seventy one. That is to say a year from now and the situation were pretty much the same I would be a little more concerned although not by the way I think the man who will get the nomination in 72 will be someone who will lose a good portion of the primaries. I don't think that the nominee can
or will emerge without going through the sort of popular tester number the primary state so I think anybody whether he's out in front or far back in the polls or whatever has a good shot at this point that includes a number of other people. Larry O'Brien has a similar assessment. I would say that the best way to sum. Sum it up in terms of the current situation is that much because the front runner that there are others. How many we don't know at this point. And I rather think it will be open and indecisive in a 172 and once we travel all of us this took a torturous route it will come to a conclusion and it will not be until 1972 and perhaps right up to the convention itself. And that's the situation and that I think will remain pretty much the situation.
I could be surprised and have to take this back later on but that's my view of it. Defending musky as they acknowledged front well are now two years before the election. What can happen in the meantime. I asked Don they call Senator Muskie's administrative assistant for 16 years who is among other things overseeing the operations of the senator's new campaign offices. If he saw any difficulty in the fact that the senator is ahead of other Democrats so early in the race I don't deny the difficulty. But I don't think the front runner position is something over which we have any control. I'm not worried about it I think I know more than I would be if he were not the front runner. When one would be worried as to why he wasn't. And if you could catch up. And if he could become the front. Runner at. The right time. Recognize the problems that are involved it increases the.
Responsibility the difficulties of providing staff support the pressure on him. But in the final analysis. I think a lot of the talk about peaking too soon and the dangers of being a front runner. Are the. Kinds of analyses that are better done after the fact. If musky is the front runner and McGovern is number two. What kind of campaign will they have. I wondered if it might be a knockdown drag out contest so divisive that Richard Nixon could step over the bodies on the way back into the White House. Both strategists gave similar answers. First article for months then Gary Hart for McGovern. I don't think either man wants to get involved in it. Contest for the nomination. Which would be really divisive in the party. And I've known both men for.
Close to 15 years. In the case of Senator McGovern. I'm with in that case a senator in my skin. And I've seen nothing in either man's record to indicate that he would want to. Conduct a divisive campaign. The differences between the men are. Partially style. Partially the emphasis that they've given to different issues at different times. And obviously on the part of their respective supporters a difference in appraisal as to which one is better qualified to lead the country contests political contests need not be divisive. I think it's issues and strong feelings about the problems that divide people. I think it's unrealistic to say well we need to we need to present a united front against Richard Nixon. Therefore let's all. Pick arbitrarily pick a man now and then run with him. It's not the democratic process it's the circuit the process of the Democratic Party with a capital
D. Even though I think we both feel quite strongly on the fact that it must be that the nominee must not be anyone who's emerged from any backroom closed door deals I think it must be an open competitive kind of process and I don't think that need be divisive. I asked both on nickel Muskies Mann and Gary Hart for McGovern if they were concerned that their candidates would be in the limelight for such a long time. Wasn't it possible that their candidate might make a Romney sort of goof about being brainwashed. They could blow the whole campaign. They go first then heart. The simple answer I guess is that Sen. Muskie and Mr. Romney are quite different people. And. One has to learn to live with the dangers of accidents malapropisms and all the other ills to which. Politicians are subject. But I don't think you can spend your time worrying about it.
I think the strongest thing we have going in here for us is George McGovern himself. I have all too much confidence in his abilities as a senator as a political figure as a as a leader I think he's an extremely intelligent man and a mental slip of any kind will just not occur I think he's just too intelligent. Why are these particular men thinking about running for president. What is special about them. Well I asked Gary Hart about Senator McGovern. He said McGovern felt he could represent the whole party in spite of the fact that George McGovern is sometimes called too liberal these days with regard to the implication that Senator McGovern is is too far to the left to speak. I think it's important to point out two or three things First of all he lived in the early or mid 1950s put together the Democratic Party in the state of South Dakota at the time that he became part of the secretary of the party out there. There were two elected Democrats in the state in the state legislature out of 100 so
today he is a United States senator he's been re-elected and he's been reelected once you've been elected twice twice as a representative from that state. You now have a Democratic governor two Democratic congressman and a Democratic lieutenant governor almost. Well largely emerging from the efforts which he made as a reg. The airport Democrat in the state of South Dakota. Secondly I think he's taken the lead in the area of party reform. This is the so-called commission on party reform and delegate selection and so forth that it's commonly referred to as the McGovern commission purpose of this commission which was established after the 1968 convention was to provide an established procedure for the selection of delegates and the nomination of the presidential candidate. The third thing that I would point out is that Senator McGovern was the first national figure on the platform at the 1968 mansion to endorse and
embrace Vice President Humphrey as the party's nominee. Now there are others in the liberal wing of the party who did not do that and held out their support for a long period of time. So I think it's important to realize that George McGovern his A is a regular Democrat in the sense that he doesn't bolt he doesn't know he's not going to leave the party he believes in the Democratic Party and that is probably his concern about welfare as any democratic country. Q has talked about his special backroad my background my feeling is one with what I would assume a greater majority Americans with associate with. You know I've been a working man in my life. I've worked in construction work in truck driving I've also been a businessman and small business operations and. This sort of thing so my my feeling is really with the people out there we have to make a living and fight their entire lifetime to pay their debts and hopefully own their own home raise their children get them through
school and that's sort of the thing so my empathy lies there with the problems the poor the sick and those that have been left out. Whether that's what the need is in America today I happen to think it is you know someone who can give people hope can lead them to believe that things can be better we can make them better because unless we really believe that in America we can bring about the changes that are going to be essential in the next few years. Senator Muskie's administrative assistant talks about some of the Lasky special qualities. Thank you Nic a very strong president. He was a governor before he was. Senator. And he was a very effective. Democratic governor in a Republican state with Republican majorities in the legislature in both terms. 75 percent of this program was adopted by. The Republican legislature. 1050 side. And the percentage was close to that I think in
the 60s in the second term. I've never been disappointed by him and all those years but he's been entirely consistent and I level of performance at all stages. And. I have seen a tremendous growth in his capacity. And his mastery of problems. And particularly and his skill. And rising to new occasions. The most recent example of that. Was the Election Eve broadcast carried out under very difficult circumstances and on very short notice. And a performance in which. He managed to. Maintain his own integrity. And outshine the president of the United States. And. Presenting in my opinion at least. An image and impression. Of. The way a president should act
under those circumstances. Larry O'Brien is chairman of the Democratic National Committee is the ultimate Democrat. He's proudly partisan so it seems fitting to end the program about the White House hopes some of these Democrats by hearing Larry O'Brien are putting it all together in his own special unabashedly prejudiced way for the Democratic Party. I think that you know. It's vital for a two party system that is going to break what the party wants again. Assume the leadership in governing and the executive branch as well as the Congress and in the state houses across this country because we have traditionally been much more responsive to our fellow Americans much more understanding of America's problems very frankly than the Republican Party. I think the current obvious ineptness of this administration the deterioration of the economy and all the rest. Thanks once again to the inability traditionally
in today of Republicans to govern. There's a decided little lacking of human understanding the human element in governing and it's amazing to me that nothing seems to change much in the Republican Party. I feel that the right party structure. And can be revitalized once again the foundation of rebuilding to serve the interests. Of the loss of life in America's poor and downtrodden. Certainly our record over the years would indicate that. This is a reporting in Washington to the national educational radio network. You've been listening to a federal case a weekly examination of a national issue from the perspective of our nation's capital. A federal case is produced with farms provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This is the national educational radio network.
A Federal Case II
Episode Number
Democratic Party White House Hopes
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National Educational Radio Network
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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"A Federal Case II" is a weekly program produced by the National Educational Radio Network which examines current political topics in the United States and Washington, D.C. Each episode features interviews with experts, members of the public, and lawmakers concerning a specific issue of government.
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Producing Organization: National Educational Radio Network
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