In the February Democratic Primaries, Ryan Norwood once again swept all of them. His worst state was Nevada, where he got 85% of the vote. Since the primaries were merely a formality, Norwood was already campaigning for the general election. He wanted to win in the biggest landslide since James Monroe. He believed it was possible to win all 50 states. Polling had him winning over 50% of the vote against any Republican challenger. 54%-38% against Joseph Niall, 58%-33% against Rupert Kneller, and 59% to 32% against Glenn Gage. Of course, if the Republicans united behind a single candidate the polling gap would shrink, but it was quite a gap to overcome. A column in the New York Times in February stated that if the election were held today, Norwood would be guaranteed to win 47 states. Hawaii would vote for the Republican. Vermont would be a tossup, which was good news for a Democrat. South Carolina was a tossup as well, and the results would depend on whether white or black residents of the Palmetto State had higher turnout.
Norwood was eager to get more African-Americans involved in the Democratic Party. In 1967 he appointed James Anderson as the first black mayor of Washington DC. An addition to being a first, Anderson would also be a last. He was last mayor of DC to be appointed by the president. In 1968, an amendment was passed that gave DC the right to vote in presidential elections, elect their own mayors, and send one representative to congress (DC would get no senators). Many were skeptical of Norwood’s outreach to African-Americans. Representative Horace Griffith, a black Republican congressman representing part of Philadelphia, criticized Norwood for signing the segregationist Tallahassee Manifesto in 1947. A few days later, Rupert Kneller gave a speech to a mostly black audience in Memphis where he talked about the Tallahassee Manifesto and how several politicians from Kentucky signed it. Kneller refused to sign it, and he touted his important role in getting the Civil Rights Act of 1955 passed (though he was essentially neutral on the topic before that point).
Rupert Kneller did not fare well in the February Republican primaries. He put most of his effort into Arkansas and Pennsylvania, and Joseph Niall won both. In addition, Niall was victorious in New York in no small part due to support from the popular Governor Brandon Bird. He won 52% of the vote there, Augustine Taylor came in second with 26%. He defeated Glenn Gage in Illinois 33%-30%. Niall went on to win New Jersey and Connecticut by wide margins. The only Northeastern state he lost was Massachusetts, which narrowly selected Austine Taylor over him by 39% to 38%. This win inspired Taylor to stay in the race, even though his campaign looked hopeless by this point. Glenn Gage won his home state of Iowa in a landslide and won Minnesota against Niall 40% to 35%. Nevada, the state with the fewest Republicans in the country was won by Kirk Wagner with 25% against Kneller’s 21%, Gage and Niall’s 18%, and Cosimo’s 17%.
In March, a reporter from the American Broadcasting Network got to interview President Norwood. One of the first questions he asked the president about was the infamous Tallahassee Manifesto that he signed in 1947. “When were a Representative, you signed a manifesto pledging to support segregation, along with many other state and local officials throughout the South. Did you actually believe in the cause of upholding segregation, or did you just do it because it was politically expedient?” Asked the reporter. Norwood responded “I believed it, I thought that segregation was good and right. But I was wrong, and I apologize for my error.” People were divided on whether they believed that he actually had a change of heart, but the whole controversy only slightly damaged his presidential campaign. Meanwhile, his attention was drawn more towards events in France, where American and French forces were launching an offensive.
(American and French soldiers in France)
The British had arrived in France before the Americans, and had tried to position themselves as the leaders of the fight against Germany. But America sent over more men, and had better relations with the French government. British generals argued for an offensive along the coast, while American generals wanted to launch an offensive to liberate the areas of France near the German border. Britain was supported by Italy and the exiled Belgian forces. America had the support of France. American and French forces would launch an attack in March. French forces would attack the Germans at Nancy while America would attack at Verdun. The German positions were heavily fortified but they were outnumbered. Both cities were eventually captured early in April, but both America and France suffered heavy losses. Still, it was a victory. On the Eastern Front, Germany launched a new offensive against Russia, and used chemical weapons.
Norwood was quick to denounce Germany’s use of chemical weapons. The other leaders of the New Alliance denounced Germany’s actions as well, as did the leaders of most neutral nations. Though chemical weapons had been used in the first two Great Wars, they were seen as unnecessarily cruel by 1968. In 1944, the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, China, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, and some other nations all agreed to never use chemical weapons in the future. Japan had not signed this agreement, though it had not yet used chemical weapons at this point in the war. Germany’s popularity took a further hit from this, but German leadership was convinced it was necessary to win the war. The anti-war movement in countries like America and Britain was weakened as most people believed Germany needed to be stopped.