Friday, January 20, 2012

1968: Romney's Disintegrating Presidential Bid

George Romney and Nelson Rockefeller, representing the business faction of the Republican Party, vs. Richard Nixon: that was the key battle among Republicans for the 1968 nomination. But already in 1967, Romney, Governor of Michigan and former CEO of American Motors Corporation, was found waffling and wobbling.

Tom Wicker put it this way in the New York Times (September 7, 1967): "Now, as a climax to [his] record of stumbling and bumbling, the Governor has given us a staggering confession -- the only reason he ever believed the Vietnamese war was 'necessary' was because he was 'brainwashed' by American generals and diplomats when he made a trip  to Saigon in 1965."

By February 28,1968, Romney dropped out of the race, and "urged his fellow Republicans to unite behind  one man. A majority of the 26 Republican Governors" at the time "favor[ed] Mr. Rockefeller." (New York Times, February 29,1968). But Nixon won the nomination and the presidency. If Romney had criticized the US-Vietnam War during the Tet Offesive of 1968 -- six months after he actually did -- his words might have found more receptive ears, even among Republicans. Indeed, LBJ, the standing Democratic President, announced that he was not running for reelection exactly one month after Romney called it quits. 

As an aside, Romney was born in Mexico, and ultimately ineligible for the presidency -- if he'd prevailed.

Meanwhile, at the height of the US-Vietnam War in 1968, George's son Willard Mitt Romney (pictured above, right; photo credit: Andre Salarnier) was enjoying an extended working vacation in France as a Mormon missionary, where he supported the war from afar. How convenient for him.     

Today's Rune: Fertility.


Johnny Yen said...

When I was studying Political Science at Eastern Illinois University, Romney's "brainwashed" comment was given as a textbook example of how to destroy your presidential campaign with one comment.

Charles Gramlich said...

What goes around comes around, I guess.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Lots of campaigns have been derailed by one comment or in Dukakis's case, one photo.

jodi said...

Erik, I remember having a mock election at school during that time, but I don't remember the outcome. However, I do recall my pink headband and matching tennies!

Erik Donald France said...

Hey, thanks all for the comments ~ cheers ~ !

The power of words, indeed.