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Saturday, March 17, 2012

March 17 Presidential Losers: Hubert Humphrey, George Wallace

Hubert Humphrey and George Wallace, 1968


George Wallace
 Wallace, the pro-segregationist governor of Alabama, split from the Democratic party and ran as an independent, appealing to any voters who still missed the good ol' days of racial segregation.  There turned out to be about ten million of them.
Hubert Humphrey
Humphrey had a hard time running as LBJ's former veep, because the nation had turned on Johnson like milk left out on a radiator overnight.  The Great Society wasn't working out so great, in spite of being modeled on the New Deal, which had been hugely popular.  And the Vietnam War, although it had been Eisenhower and Kennedy who'd gotten the wheels rolling on that one, was an enormous liability for Johnson, which is why he decided not to run.  Protestors around the nation would march, stage sit-ins, and smoke dope, chanting "Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?"  Which is kind of stupid because if the protestors wanted to know, they could just watch it on tv like anybody else.  Nixon ran on a "law and order" candidacy (which meant he wasn't going to put up with these damn protestors) appealing to the "silent majority" (which meant all the people willing to sit down and shut up).  Democrats said "law and order" was just a code word for racism, but that's not fair.  The racism candidate was clearly George Wallace.  Nixon proposed ending the draft, which he figured would quell the protests, since he thought it was mostly rich kids in the demonstrations.  Poor kids, he figured, wouldn't protest; being poor is a full-time job, and doesn't leave time for sit-ins.
Humphrey began denouncing the Vietnam War, and on Halloween got  a much-needed boost in the polls when Johnson announced an end to the bombing and even a possible peace deal the weekend before the election.  The deal fell through, needless to say, and Johnson himself believed that Nixon had worked to sabotage the Paris peace talks by telling the South Vietnam they'd get sweeter terms under a Republican administration.  This, however, is just raw paranoia and sour grapes on Johnson's part; to believe that, you might as well think Nixon would have used the IRS to harrass political enemies or spend campaign funds digging up dirt to discredit opponents.  In the end, Nixon rolled over Humphrey like a steamroller on a grape.

Result

Richard Nixon: 301
Hubert Humphrey: 191
George Wallace: 46

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