Four More Years - The Presidency of Richard M. Nixon

The Problem With AH (Nixon, et al)

ASRI;4528417Rejecting advice from Kissinger to simply evacuate the U.S. personnel and abandon the South Vietnamese government to their fate said:
Very plausible sounding material, keeping in character with the personalities and times. But there is one key failing of AH as it is normally written, namely that there are millions of things happening all the time, call them butterflies or whatever, and therefore million to one shots happen all the time messing with good future prediction and AH. So cut and paste methods are not very accurate even when sounding plausible.

Adding in deep but subtle shifts that sound implausible are in fact the opposite.

I deeply sympathize, as it is nearly impossible for a writer to cross that great divide, and nearly all readers have gut feelings of implausibility when the opposite is true. Maybe there is some way around this, an easier solution that escapes me and others in how to better figure this difficult issue into a TL.
“I have just received a very gracious from call from Senator Muskie, conceding this presidential election. I want to begin by thanking the Senator for an excellent campaign. Edmund Muskie is a true patriot, and has ably served the people of Maine since 1955, first as Governor and then in the Senate. While his time as a senator may be coming to an end, I have no doubt he will continue to be a great public servant…

The American people have graciously given me another four years in office, and to each and every one of them, I thank you. Whether you voted for me, for Senator Muskie, or for someone else, you have participated in our democracy, our God-given right as Americans. As I continue my tenure in the White House, I promise I will work for all of you, not just those of you who voted for me…

It’s time to bring our nation back together, to end the partisan bickering that so damages our national debate, and the work that we do here in Washington. That will be a priority of my administration over the next four years, and I will do all I can to heal the wounds of past battles. To that end, I am proud to tell you now that I hope to appoint a number of Democrats to my Cabinet, so that the best and the brightest can work together, regardless of party affiliation, for the good of the American people…

Over the past days I have been humbled by the outpouring of sympathy and well-wishers that has reached the White House since Pat’s stroke. I want to tell everyone that while her body may be weak right now, her mind is strong, and there is still fire in her belly. She so desperately wanted to be here with you all tonight, but Pat will make a full recovery. Again I thank you all for you support…”

Excerpt from President Nixon’s victory speech, November 3rd 1976


President Nixon celebrates his election victory

U.S. Congressional Elections, 1976

Democrats: 241 (+21)
Republicans: 194 (-21)

Democrats: 55 (+2)
Republicans: 44 (-1)
Others: 1 (-1)

“We can firmly predict that former candidate for Governor of Maine, George J. Mitchell, has won the Senate seat vacated by Senator Edmund Muskie, keeping the seat in Democratic hands. Early exit polls suggest a large margin of victory…”


George J. Mitchell, Maine Senator-elect

“We are now ready to call the Senate election in Texas, and it’s a shocker. We are now prepared to predict that former U.N. Ambassador and former RNC Chair George H.W. Bush has unseated Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee Lloyd Bentsen by a razor-thin margin. This is turning out to be a terrible night for the Democratic ticket, both of whom are now out of the Senate. Senator-elect Bush has carried the seat by what looks to be a margin of less than one percent…”


George H.W. Bush, Texas Senator-elect

“In the 3rd Congressional District of Arkansas, Democratic candidate William J. Clinton has defeated Republican Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt. Clinton actually lost to Hammerschmidt during the 1974 midterms, but he has staged quite the comeback this evening…”


William J. Clinton, Arkansas 3rd District Congressman-elect

“We can with near certainty call the Senate election in Massachusetts for Senator Edward Kennedy. He should defeat Republican candidate Michael Robertson by a huge margin. Senator Kennedy was previously thought to be the front-runner for the Democratic Presidential nomination this year, but he declined to run, and promised to serve another term in his Senate seat. This may have contributed to his comfortable victory…”


Edward M. Kennedy, Senior Senator from Massachusetts

“Conservative Senator James L. Buckley of New York has been defeated by the Democratic candidate, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, making Harry Byrd of Virginia the only Senator not to be a member of either the Democrat or Republican parties…”


Daniel Patrick Moynihan, New York Senator-elect

Selection of snippets from election coverage

The President spent the first week of December shoring up his Cabinet appointments. He had no doubt there would be changes, especially as he hoped to appoint a number of high-profile Democrats to encourage bipartisanship. Perhaps most significantly, the morning after the election Kissinger had informed the President that he hoped to step down as Secretary of State at some point before the end of the President’s third term. For now, Nixon considered this simply to be posturing on the part off Kissinger, although for what reason he couldn’t fathom.

No fewer than eleven Cabinet-level appointees would be leaving their posts in January. The most high-profile of these was Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger, to be replaced by Donald Rumsfeld, who had been working as the U.S. Ambassador to NATO. Former Wyoming Governor Stanley Hathaway would replace Rogers Morton at the Interior Department. Pennsylvania Senator Richard Schweiker was ending his term early to take up a ministerial post at the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. This surprised many, but Schweiker was seeking executive experience ahead of a planned run for Governor.

With Connally ascending to the Vice-Presidency, he would be replaced by his deputy, General Alexander Haig as National Security Advisor. Commerce Secretary Frederick Dent was moving to the post of Trade Representative, as he sought to scale back his workload. In a similar vein, Secretary of Housing & Urban Development James Thomas Lynn would take up the post of Director of the Office of Management & Budget.

As promised, Nixon selected a number of Democrats for his cabinet. Firstly, Joseph Califano agreed to stay on as Secretary of Energy. He succeeded in convincing former Congressman Robert Bergland of Minnesota to take up the post of Secretary of Agriculture, an issue Bergland was deeply involved in, living as he did on a farm. Another farmer, and indeed one of the contenders in the Democratic presidential primaries, former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter, moved into a new role as Secretary of Labor. Another former Democratic Governor, Patrick Lucey of Wisconsin, agreed to the post of Secretary of Housing & Urban Development. There was one more Democrat that Nixon hoped to appoint to his Cabinet, someone who could truly heal the wounds of partisanship, but someone who would almost certainly turn down the offer.

After groundwork was laid by the incoming Democratic Cabinet members, the President placed a call to the man in question himself…

Excerpt from The Yells of the Silent Majority: The Presidency of Richard Nixon, by Frank Thomas


Washington Post Headline, December 8th 1976

“How did the President do it? Well, quite frankly, he appealed to the patriotism of the Democrats, first of all. Not only that, but he made clear to myself and the other Democrats that the Republican party was moving rightward, and the chance to make some real progressive reforms in the United States would soon be over. With the Reaganites starting to take control of the party, the President only really had this term to pull things together.”


Former Secretary of Labor Jimmy Carter, interviewed for a posthumous documentary on Richard Nixon, 2008

The Nixon Cabinet, 1977 (includes Cabinet-level appointees)

Vice-President: John Connally
Secretary of State: Henry Kissinger
Secretary of the Treasury: George Shultz
Secretary of Defense: Donald Rumsfeld
Attorney General: Elliot Richardson
Secretary of the Interior: Stanley Hathaway
Secretary of Agriculture: Robert Bergland
Secretary of Commerce: Rogers Morton
Secretary of Labor: Jimmy Carter
Secretary of Health, Education & Welfare: Richard Schweiker
Secretary of Housing & Urban Development: Patrick Lucey
Secretary of Energy: Joseph Califano
National Security Advisor: Alexander Haig
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency: Russell E. Train
Trade Representative: Frederick Dent
Ambassador to the United Nations: Edmund Muskie
Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors: Herbert Stein
Director of the Office of Management & Budget: James Thomas Lynn
White House Chief of Staff: H.R. Haldeman







The 1977 Camp David Accords at a Glance

- Both Egypt and Jordan have agreed to formally recognise Israel as a legitimate state. Diplomatic relations will be established between the parties.

- Israel will return control of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt, with the withdrawal to be completed by 1980.

- Israel will permit citizens of both Israel and Jordan to enter into Israel to visit both Christian and Muslim religious sites.

- Israel and Jordan will hold a further summit at Camp David in 1980, to discuss a Jordanian role in the governance of East Jerusalem, and a possible territorial exchange.

- All three nations disavow terrorism as a political tool, and promise to work towards a “secure and lasting peace for all”.

- Israel will work towards a peaceful solution with the Palestinians, aided by Jordan and Egypt.


President Nixon takes questions prior to the signing of the Camp David Accords

After walking out of the Camp David summit, the Syrian government under President al-Assad sought to avoid being shut out of Middle Eastern politics. Almost immediately, al-Assad made contact with al-Bakr in an attempt to create a union between Syria and Iraq. In the proposed union, al-Assad would become deputy leader. Saddam now felt his position was under threat…

Excerpt from Blood In The Euphrates: Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, by Ian Lennon



Saddam Hussein, President of Iraq

“Well, uh, as you know, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Presley. Of course, he was one of the most popular entertainers in American history, and, uh, touched millions of lives with his music. His premature death really is a tragedy for the United States, but he of course will live on through his music for generations to come. I, uh, of course offer my condolences to the Presley family at this sad time. Uh, next question? John, yes…”


Excerpt from President Nixon press conference, where he answered a question regarding the death of Elvis Presley, August 18th, 1977


The famous photograph of President Nixon and Elvis Presley, December 21st, 1970

“What are we hearing, Henry?”

“Well, Mr. President, as you know, Brezhnev was attempting to remove Podgorny and became himself President of the Supreme Soviet. It seems the hard-liners have resisted it. Grigory Romanov put forward a motion to oust Brezhnev, and the vote was unanimous.”

“Fuck! This is a goddamn travesty. Those dumb old bastards in the Politburo are going to kill détente. They’re gonna turn this whole goddamn Cold War hot. Who gives a shit if Brezhnev is chairman?”

“If I may, Mr. President, I would suggest that the hard-liners were seeking an excuse. They know that America is winning the Cold War, and they want to change that. They’ll put a hard-liner in Brezhnev’s place, I would think.”

“This is a fucking travesty, Henry. The Russians will do try to up their influence in the Middle East. They’ll ruin the Camp David Accords. This is bullshit, Henry.”

“I agree completely, Mr. President. On the other hand, China will now be much more amenable. They will want to be on the winning side, and they know that will be us.”

“They had better. I want you to set up a call for tomorrow morning with Xiaoping. I want to make sure that bastard’s onside.”

“Yes sir, Mr. President.”

Excerpt from an Oval Office conversation between President Nixon and Secretary of State Kissinger, September 13th, 1977

In truth, I had already made my mind up to run by the time President Nixon was inaugurated for his third term. As I watched many Democrats enter the Cabinet, I realised that the President was positioning himself as a true statesman, above the fray of partisan politics, in order to secure a positive legacy for himself. He wanted to be mentioned in the same breath as Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt as among the greatest Republican presidents.

In 1980, however, it was likely that the Democratic nominee for President would be running against either Vice-President John Connally or former California Governor Ronald Reagan. I had no problem with either men on a personal level, but they were both too far to the right for me to accept them as President without a fight.

I truly believed that Edmund Muskie would have made a fine President, and that his policies were something I could support, but he didn’t have the charisma or the political skill to get to the White House in the first place. I realised that I should have ran in 1976, but the truth was, as much as I didn’t want to admit it, I was afraid of facing Richard Nixon. He had tapped into middle America in a way nobody thought possible, and I feared being the only Kennedy to lose an election, and worse, to Richard Nixon. It took me years to admit that to anyone, including myself.

In 1977, my mind was made up. I was going to run for the Presidency in 1980, and I was going to win.

Excerpt from True Compass, by Edward Kennedy


Haldeman left the White House well after midnight. He had spent much of the day working with the President on the Soviet succession. For weeks it hadn’t been clear who would emerge as leader in the wake of the ousting of Brezhnev, but now, on October 1st, reports from inside the USSR seemed to have an answer. Mikhail Suslov was going to be the new General Secretary. Suslov had previously been Second Secretary, a position he had clawed his way to after losing influence when Stalin died. The President, Kissinger and Haldeman himself saw Suslov as a temporary fix; he was seventy-five years old.

More importantly, he was a staunch hard-liner. Many saw him as Stalin’s protégé, and he had participated in state repression during the 1940s. He was opposed to any major reforms, and his ascension was widely seen as a setback for détente.

The President was furious at the development, and had been in a bad mood all day. He had even lost his temper with HEW Secretary Richard Schweiker over a trivial matter. Haldeman would phone Schweiker in the morning and apologise on behalf of the President. For now, he intended to read some briefing papers he hadn’t had the chance to look at because of a bloated schedule.

In fact, Haldeman began to read one of the papers on his way home. He was among the last of the White House staff to leave the building. A problem with his transmission had meant that he had to walk to take a cab to work that day, but he chose to walk home. That would ensure he was wide awake and wouldn’t fall asleep while reading the papers in bed.

Absorbed in the papers, Haldeman walked past the National Academy of Sciences and stepped out to cross East Street Northwest. So deep in concentration that he failed to see the oncoming Chevrolet, driven by off-duty surgeon Stephen Foley. An alcoholic, Foley had been drinking in a local bar and was heavily inebriated. He failed to see a red light.

The car hit Haldeman at seventy miles per hour. He was thrown into the air, his neck snapping as he hit the ground.

At fifty years old, Harry Robbins Haldeman, Chief of Staff to the President of the United States, was dead.

Excerpt from Loyalty Unto Death - Inside The Nixon White House, by Peter Layfield


Harry Robbins Haldeman, October 27th 1926-October 1st 1977
Wonder who Nixon's new Chief of Staff's gonna be. Interesting cabinet choices. Suslov as the new Soviet leader, crap!
Though they're largely forgotten in the noise from Vietnam and Watergate, there are two things that should be dealt with in any Nixon timeline:

Nixon publicly supported a Federal dole program, similar to the "Negative Income Tax" or "Guaranteed Annual Stipend" described in so many of Mack Reynolds' SF novels. This was Nixon's route to subvert the mass of low-income Democratic voters who underpinned the Democratic Party of the day.

There's also the "Federal II" program, where Nixon planned to reduce the size of the Federal government by at least half, streamlining operations and getting rid of useless bureaucracy.

Both are described in Nixon's own memoirs. I still think it was "Federal II" more than anything else that caused his downfall; you had a whole lot of Feds who were in danger of losing their jobs had he retained the Presidency.
Great timeline. What other contenders are there in 1980 besides Connally and Reagan? I'd think there'd be some Progressive challenge like Weicker or Anderson. Also, Bush would probably stay out of 1980 given that he owes his career to Connally (who recommended that Nixon appoint him to something after the 1970 Senate loss), and that they're both from the same state.
Though they're largely forgotten in the noise from Vietnam and Watergate, there are two things that should be dealt with in any Nixon timeline:

Nixon publicly supported a Federal dole program, similar to the "Negative Income Tax" or "Guaranteed Annual Stipend" described in so many of Mack Reynolds' SF novels. This was Nixon's route to subvert the mass of low-income Democratic voters who underpinned the Democratic Party of the day.

There's also the "Federal II" program, where Nixon planned to reduce the size of the Federal government by at least half, streamlining operations and getting rid of useless bureaucracy.

Both are described in Nixon's own memoirs. I still think it was "Federal II" more than anything else that caused his downfall; you had a whole lot of Feds who were in danger of losing their jobs had he retained the Presidency.

I'll admit that I don't know enough about both these things, but now that you've reminded me of them, I'll look into it.

And regarding 1980, I refuse to give anything away, but I will say that there will be some surprises with both the Democratic and Republican nominations.

President Nixon had spent much of the evening reading briefing papers on the situations in various countries, including, but not limited to, the Soviet Union, Vietnam and China. At around 1.30am, he retired for the night.

Barely twenty minutes later, he was awakened by a phone call from John Ehrlichman, who had not left the White House yet. Ehrlichman had volunteered to inform Nixon of Haldeman’s death, and was able to keep calm while doing so. The President woke Pat and told her, and then, according to his memoirs, went into the bathroom and sobbed…

…Haldeman’s funeral took place four days after his death. In a move to demonstrate that the administration had not taken its eye off the ball, the President released a statement an hour before he left to deliver the eulogy. In the statement he announced that John Ehrlichman would be Haldeman’s successor as White House Chief of Staff. John Dean would fill Ehrlichman’s previous role as Chief of Domestic Affairs, and a new position, Chief of Foreign Affairs, would be assigned to Dick Cheney, who had previously worked in various staffer roles. Kissinger was not happy about the appointment, and soon complained that his authority was being undermined.

Excerpt from The Yells of the Silent Majority: The Presidency of Richard Nixon, by Frank Thomas

“I must say, that in all the years I’d worked at the White House, the President had never been overly emotional in front of me. I’d seen him angry, and laughing, but never truly upset. Since Harry’s death, he had held it together, but as we were about to leave for Harry’s funeral, he broke down. It took him quite a while to get a hold of himself, and he just about kept it together through the eulogy.

Over the years I’d worked for him, I felt I knew President Nixon well, but until that day he had never seemed so human to me. It was touching to see him comfort the First Lady, who was making her first public appearance since her stroke.

Like I say, I’d never seen the President like this before, but once we returned to the White House, it was night and day. He gathered all of the senior advisers together, and told us that we would take a while to regroup after Harry’s death, but that 1978 was going to be a big year. He said it was time to get our domestic agenda together, stabilise the world situation, and put up a real fight in the midterms. We didn’t have long before the President became a lame-duck, and we wanted to make the most of it.”


John Dean, interviewed for a posthumous documentary on Richard Nixon, 2008


New York Times Headline, January 29th 1978

When President Nixon announced the negative income tax, it was clear that he was making a play for Democrats. His third term seemed to be underscoring the fact that Nixon was increasingly out of step with the Republican Party, which was slowly moving rightward. The Reagan snub at the 1976 convention had cost the President some of his support on the right. While the party rank-and-file still respected their President, and many even loved him, it was clear that he would not have wide support if he was not already President.

The new tax proposal would benefit those struggling to make ends meet, and polls demonstrated that the President’s approval ratings among the working poor had never been higher. The Federal II program, meanwhile, kept the right onside by promising to slim down the bloated federal bureaucracy…

…1978 was in many ways both the high and low point of the Nixon presidency. The economy was struggling, and unemployment was continuing to rise, slowly but steadily. The Republican Party was drifting to the right, making Nixon look more like a conservative Democrat. However, the President’s approval ratings were the highest they had been since his first visit to China. John Connally, meanwhile, was rapidly establishing himself as a worthy successor to the longest-serving Republican president in history.

Excerpt from The Invincible Quest, by Conrad Black


Washington Post Headline, February 18th 1978


New York Times Headline, February 20th 1978


Senator Edward M. Kennedy announces he will not chair the bipartisan health commission

“I rejected the offer because I had a feeling that it was just a ploy. The President would make the position of the Democrats untenable, and force us to walk, damaging the party politically. I felt that while the President made the offer in the spirit of the bipartisanship, he was thinking in partisan terms. In hindsight, however, rejecting the offer cost me in the long run…”

Excerpt from True Compass, by Edward Kennedy

“America seeks only to crush the Soviet worker under his boot. They preach liberty and prosperity, but offer only lies, violence and repression for the proletariat…Never again will we bow before the demands of the United States. We will protect and nurture the revolution wherever we find it. We will face the enemy with courage in our hearts, and we will win! Long live this glorious revolution of ours!”

Excerpt from Mikhail Suslov’s speech to the CPSU, March 3rd 1978



New York Times Headline, May 15th 1978

“Suslov wants to square up to me? Fuck ‘im! I’ll bomb his ass back to the goddamn Dark Ages if that’s what he wants!”

Excerpt from an Oval Office conversation between President Nixon and Chief of Foreign Affairs Dick Cheney, May 16th 1976

“And we at CBS have some breaking news for you, the, uh, Papal Conclave has completed its deliberations, and has made a decision. Cardinal Franz Konig, Archbishop of Vienna since 1956, has been elected the next Pope. Cardinal Konig, seventy-three years old, is somewhat of a surprising choice. He is generally considered to be liberal, and is in favour of decentralisation of the Catholic Church. Again, Cardinal Franz Konig, Archbishop of Vienna, has been elected the Bishop of Rome. We will of course bring you more on this story as it develops.”

Walter Cronkite, CBS News, October 16th 1978

“I, of course, offered my congratulations to Pope Leopold, and I told him I was very much looking forward to working with him in pursuit of a world where all can practice their religion freely. I also, uh, made clear my, uh, desire that he visit the United States as soon as possible.”

President Nixon answers a press question on the election of Pope Leopold, October 17th 1978


Newly-elected pontiff Leopold I

Riding the wave of the stabilisation of the economy, and popular proposals such as Federal II and the negative income tax, the Republicans took control of the House for the first time since 1952, and increased their representation in the Senate.

The decision of the Democratic leadership to walk out of negotiations for universal health care just a week before election day was widely seen as a political ploy that backfired, and cost the party at the polling station.

Excerpt from Wikipedia article on the 1978 Congressional Elections

U.S. Congressional Elections, 1978

Democrats: 212 (-29)
Republicans: 223 (+29)

Democrats: 52 (-3)
Republicans: 47 (+3)
Others: 1 (no change)

“We can confirm that Congressman William Clinton of Arkansas 3rd Congressional District has been elected Senator, defeating James Kelly by a fair margin. Again, Congressman Clinton, who has served just one term in the House, will represent Arkansas in the Senate.”


William J. Clinton, Arkansas Senator-elect

“We can now call the New York gubernatorial race for billionaire businessman and philanthropist David Rockefeller, brother of former Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Once again, David Rockefeller, brother of former Governor Nelson Rockefeller, has defeated New York Governor Hugh Carey in the New York governor’s race. Mr. Rockefeller, who has pledged to serve just one term, has entered elected office for the first time.”


David Rockefeller, New York Governor-elect

“In big news, former Senator and 1976 Vice-Presidential nominee Lloyd Bentsen will be returning to the United States Senate, defeating Senator John Tower, who was seeking a fourth term. Senator-elect Bentsen lost to George H.W. Bush two years ago in one of the biggest shocks in recent memory, but he will be returning to Washington come January.”


Lloyd Bentsen, Texas Senator-elect

His position now untenable, the Shah and his family took flight from Iran on November 9th. They flew first to Egypt, where overtures were made to the White House. Nixon had always felt that the Shah was a trusted ally and even a friend, and thus offered him asylum in the United States. The Shah, left with few options, accepted the offer. He eventually settled in suburban Maryland, where, aside from a failed assassination attempt by an Iranian-American, he lived quietly until his death in 1982. He was never able to return to Iran…

…Watching the Iranian Revolution with interest was Saddam Hussein, who waited less than a week before he ordered an invasion. In a major address, the Iraqi President stated that he had ordered the invasion to protect the lives of Iraqi civilians.

In the first few weeks, the Iraqi Army secured swathes of Iranian territory, capitalising on the confusion following the revolution. Ignoring the advice of many in the Iraqi government, Hussein ordered his forces to fortify their positions and prepare for the inevitable counterattack…

Excerpt from Blood In The Euphrates: Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, by Ian Lennon


Iraqi troops fighting in Iran

“You’re kidding, right Henry?”

“I’m afraid not, Mr. President. The Politburo is behind Suslov.”

“Fuck! They should take that son-of-a-bitch out and shoot him dead. This will destroy the Soviet Union. They’ll be goddamn chaos! First Afghanistan, now this!”

Excerpt from an Oval Office conversation between President Nixon and Secretary of State Kissinger


Washington Post headline, November 10th 1978


Soviet forces in Afghanistan

“They won’t be satisfied until there’s all-out war. Fuck Suslov, fuck that bastard. I want arms shipped to Iraq like never before! I’ll give Saddam goddamn nuke if that’s what it takes, John!”

Excerpt from an Oval Office conversation between President Nixon and Chief of Staff John Ehrlichman, November 10th 1978


Washington Post headline, November 29th 1978


Soviet forces enter Iran

“I would suggest that there is no result here that favours the United States. If Iran survives, we still have an anti-American, radical Islamic government in a key part of the world. If the Soviet Union absorbs Iran, or more likely, installs a communist government, then we’re going to have a domino effect. And if somehow Iraq and Russia carve up Iran between them, then we’ve got two warmongering nations side by side.”

“Let me ask you this; could the President have done anything to prevent this?”

“Well, let me first be clear that I am fully behind President Nixon. He has my complete backing. However, for a man who was once such an ardent anticommunist, the President has not done enough to counter the Soviet Union. Russia is an enemy of freedom, and we have to recognise that. We spent far too long cosying up to Brezhnev, and now we’re paying for it.”

Excerpt from an interview with former California Governor Ronald Reagan, December 3rd 1978


“Who the hell does Reagan think he is? That son-of-a-bitch. He’ll get the nomination over my dead body.”

Excerpt from an Oval Office conversation between President Nixon and Secretary of State Kissinger
This is an excellent TL, but my only quibbles are that Nixon tried to get UHC in '74 but Ted Kennedy nixed it and Nixon was too weak from Watergate. So that would happen earlier. Also, I don't think the Republicans would do as well in the midterms because 1) they're midterms and 2) the economy; polls in '71 had Nixon losing to Muskie on election day (this is not to say that Muskie could have won, but that Nixon's approval ratings were not pie-in-the-sky). Although it's possible a '94 happens in '78 since the Republicans are riding proposals of popular programs, it'll probably look more like '62, but since the economy is so bad, maybe not even that :)

Oh, and if you want to know more about it, his negative income tax proposal was nixed in committee in '70 by a coalition of conservadems and liberals who thought it didn't go far enough. Now that the Republicans control Congress... :cool:
During an early morning staff meeting on January 8th, Nixon received a phone call from Majority Leader Robert Byrd, who informed the President that Hubert Humphrey, former Vice-President and incumbent Senator for Minnesota, had finally succumbed to bladder cancer. Humphrey, who had concealed his illness until it was in his final stages, died at home in Waverly, Minnesota.

Nixon later confessed that the passing of Humphrey felt like an end of an era. He and Humphrey were of the same generation, and shared similar backgrounds, and now Humphrey was gone…

…On January 15th, Nixon flew to Minnesota for Hubert Humphrey’s funeral. He was joined by a litany of the political elite, Democrat and Republican alike, who had turned up to pay tribute to one of the most notable figures in the political history of the United States. One of those attending was former New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, another political rival of Nixon’s. Much like Humphrey, his passing would emphasise that the President was an increasingly elder figure, as a new generation of politicians took over.

During the funeral service, Rockefeller - who had felt unwell all morning - suffered a massive heart attack, collapsing on the floor of the church. He was pronounced dead on arrival at a local hospital. A political giant, and the spiritual leader of progressive Republicans, was gone at age seventy.

Excerpt from The Yells of the Silent Majority: The Presidency of Richard Nixon, by Frank Thomas


Hubert Horatio Humphrey Jr. - May 27th, 1911-January 8th, 1979


Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller - July 8th, 1908-January 15th, 1979

Nixon was alone in his office, watching news coverage of the United Kingdom’s general election. Margaret Thatcher’s Conservatives looked set to unseat the Labour government of James Callaghan, but that wasn’t for certain yet (in the end, Thatcher would be left with a slim majority of eight).

Henry Kissinger turned up to see the President. There was no meeting scheduled, so his arrival was something of a surprise. What Kissinger had come to discuss should have been even more surprising, but in truth it wasn’t at all shocking to the President.

The Secretary of State had arrived to hand in his letter of resignation, for the third time in as many months. He had felt increasingly sidelined in recent months, and was convinced that Nixon soon intended to kick him out of the administration at the first chance. There is no evidence that these suspicions were in any way correct, but it is true that Nixon had worked more with Vice President Connally, National Security Advisor Alexander Haig and Foreign Affairs Chief Dick Cheney in recent months.

The President listened with interest as Kissinger went on a long rant, complaining that the President was pushing him out and was jeopardizing all the hard work they had done together over the last decade. Nixon allowed Kissinger to finish his complaints, and then, in what has been called one of the most significant decisions in the history of his administration, simply said, “Of course I’m disappointed Henry, but I reluctantly accept your resignation”.

The decade-long partnership of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, the partnership that had brought about détente with the Soviet Union, relations with China, the end of the war in Vietnam, and peace in the Middle East, was finally over.

Excerpt from Loyalty Unto Death - Inside The Nixon White House, by Peter Layfield


Nixon and Kissinger in happier times



Kenneth Rush, inaugural ambassador to the People's Republic of China

“Mr. President, I really don’t think I can do this. I’ll be dead to my party.”

“You will be above party. You will never have to appear at any kind of partisan appearance. Politics end at the water’s edge, you know that.”

“I doubt the Democratic Party will see it that way.”

“Your country is more important than your party. I need a partner in this, and I believe you’re the man to do it.”

“You realise this is pretty much unprecedented, Mr. President?”

“I do, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea.”

“I really will have to think about it, sir.”

“I’ll give you until morning.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“No problem, Ed.”

Excerpt from Oval Office conversation with President Nixon and Cabinet member, May 9th 1979






Edmund Muskie, 57th United States Secretary of State


Gerald Ford, 12th United States Ambassador to the United Nations

Most see June 18th, 1979 as the end of détente, when President Nixon announced that, in response to the Soviet military actions in Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Iran, there would be a huge increase in the defence budget. This was seen as an attempt to force the Soviet Union into an arms race, which the Nixon Administration believed would not be sustainable for the Russian economy.

Secretary of State Muskie was the principal architect of the plan, with Nixon’s approval. In a move that was criticized by members of his own Republican party, the President announced a temporary tax increase on the top tier of earners in order to fund the arms build-up. Nixon ignored these complaints, arguing that national security was paramount.

The Soviet Union was already caught up in a difficult war in Iran, which had ground to a stalemate, the Iranians holding small pockets that were surrounded by either the Soviets or fellow invaders the Iraqis. Premier Suslov condemned the arms race as “provocative”, but privately the Central Committee was concerned.

Excerpt from Wikipedia article “Détente”

The Democratic Race for President

“I run for the presidency not to oppose any man, but to propose new policies. Almost twenty years after President Kennedy took the oath of office, the United States faces another new frontier. We have concerns at home and abroad more serious than any this nation has ever faced. I believe President Nixon is a good man, and that he loves his country, but the country is falling behind under his leadership. John Connally’s platform is essentially Nixonian, and Ronald Reagan’s platform would cripple the working class, and leave behind those who need help from most.

It’s time for a change. America needs change. We need to find solutions for the poor and the needy, we need to solve the healthcare problem, we need to improve our education system. We need to streamline our military, we need to end the Cold War, we need a fresh start. This is what I offer to the American people for the election of 1980; a fresh start, a new start for all. It’s time to bring the United States of America back together.

That is my mission, my dream. It is the dream of millions, and I will never, ever let it fall by the wayside. Too many people depend on it. Thus, today I declare my candidacy for the Democratic nomination for President. I do this for the American people who I have always sought to serve, and I do it because I believe I can win. It’s time for a fresh start.”

- Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy enters the presidential race


“Myself and Ed Muskie came closer than many thought possible in 1976. Four years later, one final push will put the Democrats back in the White House. Ed may be willing to shack up with Richard Nixon, but Lloyd Bentsen isn’t. I’m running for President.”

- Senator Lloyd Bentsen of Texas joins the race


“I have spent my entire career fighting for the American people, in Minnesota, and in the Senate. Now I seek to do it in the highest office in the land, so that I may continue my fight.”

- Senator Walter Mondale of Minnesota is in the ring


“I want the American people to know that the partisan politics of Ronald Reagan are not all California has to offer. I promise inclusiveness, vision, prosperity and real leadership, the kind President Nixon has failed to offer.”

- Senator Alan Cranston of California enters the fray


“1980 is the year that we finally move past Richard Nixon. Let’s not allow it to be the year we replace him with a surrogate. Let’s make it the year we replace him with real leadership.”

- Also running is Senator Ernest Hollings of South Carolina


“I heard what Senator Cranston had to say about California, and he’s right; my state can offer more than Ronald Reagan. However, with all due respect to Senator Cranston, I have the executive experience required to lead the nation. We need a change. That’s why I’m running.”

- Another Californian is running; Governor Jerry Brown


“Twelve years of a Republican administration is too much. Our country is weaker in every area, and the American people are screaming for change. I want to deliver that change for our nation.”

- Governor Reubin Askew of Florida is next in


“Ask me the question, John…there you go. Here’s a scoop for you: I’m running for President, and I fully intend to go all the way.”

- Senator Joe Biden of Delaware is running


“People are saying my time has passed, but the time of concern for the needy and a love for freedom will never be passed. I’m running for President.”

- Representative Mo Udall of Arizona is running once again


“I want to say to the American people that we can’t go on like this. Things are tough for everybody, but they don’t need to be. I can shake our nation up, I can deliver on my promises, but I need your help to get the chance.”

- Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana rounds out the field


The Republican Race for President

“I have served on both sides of the aisle, I have served great Presidents, but I have never served a man with the vision, the drive, and the patriotism of Richard Nixon. Today, I say to the American people that we have had a decade of prosperity, and long may it continue. To ensure that it does, I today announce my candidacy for the Presidency of the United States.”

- Vice-President John Connally of Texas throws his hat in the ring


“The President is a good man, and has done many good things. The Democrats do not have the answers, but I find that no one else in the Republican field does either. I believe that the American people favour lower taxes and greater freedom, and those beliefs are mine, too. I want to be President because I want those beliefs to be the law of the land, and they will be if I’m elected.”

- Former Governor of California Ronald Reagan enters the presidential race


“I run for President not for its glories but for its challenges, not for the perks it will provide me but for the pride I have in the American people. I’m in, and I’m in to win.”

- Kansas Senator Bob Dole joins the race


“The talking heads claim that no one who’s last name isn’t Reagan or Connally can win this race. I say different. I’m running for President.”

- Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska joins the fray


“My state is doing better now than it was when I entered the governor’s mansion. I want to replicate that success for the entire nation, and I believe I can. We need to put another Republican in the White House, someone who has the skills and experience to preserve, protect and defend our nation. I’m the man to do it.”

- Indiana Governor Otis R. Bowen declares his candidacy


“I’m running for President, not for me, but for the nation.”

- Next in is Senator Lowell P. Weicker Jr. of Connecticut


“I truly believe no one currently in the race can beat a Democrat in the fall. They’re either too tied to the Administration or too far from the mainstream. I can win, and that’s why I’m running. It’s too dangerous to risk our prosperity.”

- Senator Charles Mathias of Maryland announces he is running for President


“I’ve already heard some say that because I lost to Lloyd Bentsen last year, I can’t get anywhere in this race. Well, you know that? I was the first Republican in Texas to be elected to the Senate since the Civil War. I’ve proven I can overcome the odds. I’m going to do it again.”

- Former Senator from Texas John Tower rounds out the Republican field

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1980: Governance

“Mr. President, I was wondering if you could give the American people some reaction to the Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula?”

“Well, uh, I am of course very pleased that the withdrawal has been completed, and that it has been completed both on schedule and peacefully. I offer my congratulations to President Assad and Prime Minister. They have taken a great step forward in the pursuit of peace in the Middle East, and they have the support all around the world.”

“Sir, can you tell us whether the proposed summit between Israel and Jordan will go ahead?”

“I expect so, yes. I hope that a date can be arranged for it in the very near future, and I am confident that the summit will occur, and that it will yield results that promote peace in the region.”

Excerpt from a presidential press conference, January 2nd 1980


President Nixon takes questions

“The American imperialists have laid down a gauntlet to the Soviet worker. They dare us to face them, and expose their cowardice. We are not afraid! The oppressor may seek to crush us under his heel, but we will stand up, we will fight, and we will win! We will arm the worker with every tool he may need to fight the imperialist oppressor. If America gives its soldier a rocket launcher, we shall give ours two. If America gives its soldier a bomb, we shall give ours two. We will fight the oppressor in every corner of the globe, and spread the revolution! The age of the worker is coming, and when it does, the capitalist oppressor will be vanquished!”

Excerpt from a January 9th speech by Soviet Premier Suslov, announcing a renewed arms build-up

For almost a year, Russian and Iraqi forces had eyed each other warily across a number of ceasefire zones. Neither had fired a shot at the other, but nor had either side achieved victory over Iran. While the Iranian government only held a small pocket surrounding Teheran, it had put up stubborn resistance against repeated bombing raids, and there appeared to be no end in sight.

This all changed on January 28th 1980, when Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko arrived at an airfield outside Tikrit. Only around a dozen people on each side knew that Gromyko had arrived in Iraq. He was met there by Tariq Aziz, who whisked the Russian away to meet Saddam…

After a third day of negotiation, Gromyko departed from Saddam, a settlement in place. The Iraqi President was told to expect a phone call from Premier Suslov…

Excerpt from Blood In The Euphrates: Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, by Ian Lennon


Saddam Hussein, President of Iraq, 1980





Mansoor Hekmat, 1st Premier of the Soviet Republic of Iran

Chinese Premier Hua Guofeng arrived in Washington on February 10th, bringing a large entourage with him. This visit was considered to be of paramount importance by the Nixon White House. Determined to shore up Chinese support against Soviet aggression. The President was certain that he would need China on side, and thus he was prepared to sign several favourable trade agreements with the Chinese leadership…

…As Guofeng departed on February 13th, Nixon was elated; he had received promises of Chinese friendship, and could count on them to stand side-by-side with the United States to face down any further transgressions by the Russians.

Excerpt from The Washington-Beijing Axis, by Joshua Cameron


Washington Post headline, March 1st 1980

“All of you know that ever since I assumed this office on January 20th, 1969, I have sought to promote the cause of peace with the Soviet Union, and with the People’s Republic of China. Despite the best efforts of my administration, and despite the success of our diplomacy with China, the Soviet Union is determined to force the United States to withdraw within its own borders.

In the past, I have made concessions to the Soviet Union in the name of peace, but I cannot allow such a capitulation while I hold this office. It is against every fibre of my being, and I will not stand for it. Under Premier Suslov, the Soviet Union has brazenly violated the sovereignty of multiple countries. It has oppressed entire nations, it has murdered in cold blood innocent civilians. This cannot be allowed to continue…

…The United States will not stand for further oppression, nor will it stand for further aggression. If the Soviet Union attacks or invades another nation, this administration will consider it an act of war…

…I urge those currently dominated by Soviet imperialism, be they in the Middle East, in Eastern Europe, or in Africa, to face up to their oppressors, and do what they can to advance the cause of freedom…

…I seek world peace, but I will not seek it at the expense of the liberty of our nation, or any other. There can never be peace until all the world is free. The cause of the United States is liberty, and I will not rest one moment if it means stifling that cause. The United States does not seek war with the Soviet Union, but it does not fear it. I now want to address Mr. Suslov directly; end your wars of aggression, and our nations can renew their friendships. However, Mr. Suslov, if you fail to, the United States will protect its interests, and it will win.

I thank you, the American people, for allowing me into your homes tonight. God bless you all.”

Excerpts from President Nixon’s address to the nation, March 1st 1980


President Nixon making his address

“Another major revolt?”

“Yes, Mr. President. The reports we’re getting are fairly sketchy, but it seems Russian troops gunned down protestors in Kabul.”

“Well, goddamn. First Teheran, now this. The Russians are going to watch the Middle East go to hell, and they think the only way to fix it is to shoot every bastard dead.”

Excerpt from an Oval Office conversation between President Nixon and Secretary of State Muskie, April 9th 1980



What Was Decided

- Israel and Jordan have signed a treaty, formally ending conflict between them. They also signed an agreement of friendship, through which they will work together to promote peace.

- Israel and Jordan agree to increase their levels of trade with each other, in order to strengthen ties of friendship

- Israel will transfer several border areas of the West Bank to Jordanian control. This transfer will begin in 1983 and will be completed by January 1st, 1990.

- Jordan agrees to oppose Syrian intervention in Israeli affairs.

Excerpt from New York Times article on summit, May 22nd 1980

“I am here in support of the Vice President because I believe he is the best candidate for the presidency. No one knows better than I the demands of this office, and I am certain that John Connally will make our nation proud. He has a deep faith in the American spirit, he has the experience to lead, and he has the strength of will to lead our country. When I leave office on January 20th, 1981, I know that if I’m leaving our country in the hands of John Connally, then it will be in good hands. I’m not sure I can say that about any of the other…”

“Long live the revolution!”

“Oh my God! Mr. President! Somebody call an ambulance!”

Excerpt from campaign appearance by President Nixon, June 2nd 1980
Did the USSR outright annex most of Iran? :eek:

Also... whatever happened with UHC and the negative income tax? I would love to see a TL where Nixon pulls off UHC... he was the most likely to pull it off successfully in the same vein as "only Nixon could go to China", only he could do UHC without being accused of being a closet commie. :D
Hope Nixon's okay, though a Connally presidency would be interesting. Anyway, it looks like there are currently two Texans on the GOP side who Sen. Bush owes favors, Tower and Connally, though both were a while back.
The Story of the Democratic Primaries, 1980

The field of candidates in the Democratic race was quite a collection of talent, from all over the nation. Senators, Governors, Congressmen, all seeking to succeed Richard Nixon and become the 38th President of the United States. In alphabetical order, the field was as follows:

Former Governor Reubin Askew of Florida
Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana
Senator Lloyd Bentsen of Texas
Senator Joe Biden of Delaware
Governor Jerry Brown of California
Senator Alan Cranston of California
Senator Ernest Hollings of South Carolina
Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts
Senator Walter Mondale of Minnesota
Congressman Mo Udall of Arizona

Early on, Senator Kennedy was perceived to be the odds-on favourite to secure the nomination. Following in the footsteps of his late brothers John and Robert, Kennedy was making his first bid for the presidency, and almost immediately held an edge in fundraising and media visibility.

Some of Kennedy’s opponents tried to frame the Senator’s bid as little more than an ego trip to create a Kennedy dynasty, an accusation which early on gained some traction. However, in a much-publicised speech delivered from his home in Hyannis Port, Senator Kennedy laid out his deep desire to renew America’s prosperity, and undo the damage that President Nixon had inflicted on the American people since he took office.

Other opponents, most notably Governor Askew, instead framed the debate around Kennedy’s ultraliberal views. Askew argued that Kennedy’s policies would not only weaken the fragile economy, but would also prevent him from winning a general election. Kennedy, so the argument went, was seen by much of the country as too far to the left, and would be crushed by either Reagan or Connally in the general.

As the Iowa caucuses of January 21st approached, however, Kennedy was still viewed as holding a substantial lead over his opponents. A poll taken on January 19th gave the Massachusetts Senator a twelve-point lead. This made the result even more of a shock:

Results of the Iowa caucuses, January 21st 1980

1. Reubin Askew
2. Ted Kennedy
3. Ernest Hollings

The shock result was a significant boon for the Askew campaign. Just hours after the result was announced, Senator Alan Cranston dropped out of the race and endorsed the Governor. While Senator Kennedy secured the endorsements of the withdrawing Joe Biden and Mo Udall, the media coverage was suddenly focused on the “crisis” in the Kennedy campaign. This new spin had the potential to derail the Senator’s bid before it really even got started. The results of the first primary, held on February 10th in Maine, did nothing to alleviate Kennedy’s problems:

Results of the Maine primary, February 10th 1980

1. Reubin Askew
2. Birch Bayh
3. Ted Kennedy

Knocked into third place, and with another Askew victory on the books, the Kennedy campaign looked to be in serious trouble. If Governor Askew were to win the next set of primaries, then it was possible that his momentum would be so strong that he would run away with the nomination. The February 26th primaries in Minnesota and New Hampshire suddenly became of paramount importance to the Senator.

Results of the Minnesota primary, February 26th 1980

1. Ted Kennedy
2. Walter Mondale
3. Reubin Askew

Results of the New Hampshire primary, February 26th 1980

1. Ted Kennedy
2. Reubin Askew
3. Jerry Brown

Victories in both of the primaries was enough to ensure that the Kennedy campaign did not completely implode. While Askew ran Kennedy a little closer than he would have liked in New Hampshire, the Senator received some more good news when Minnesota’s own Walter Mondale withdrew from the race and endorsed him. Disappointed at failing to win the primary in his home state, Mondale blamed Kennedy, but was still aware that endorsing the Massachusetts Senator would shore up the liberal vote.

Also withdrawing was Senator Ernest Hollings, who gave his endorsement to Governor Askew. This would matter little ahead of the next primary in Massachusetts, which Askew had not entered, but with fifteen more primaries before the end of March (including South Carolina), it helped keep at least some eyes on the Askew campaign.

Results of the Massachusetts primary, March 4th 1980

1. Ted Kennedy
2. Jerry Brown
3. Lloyd Bentsen

A thirty-point win in his home state was more than enough for Senator Kennedy, who received more good news when Birch Bayh withdrew from the race and urged his supporters to vote for Kennedy in forthcoming primaries. Despite the strong win, the result was so expected that it had little effect on the Kennedy momentum. Far more important were the block of primaries from March 11th-15th. They would determine if Askew had the chops to stay the course and secure the nomination.

Results of the Alabama primary, March 11th 1980

1. Reubin Askew
2. Lloyd Bentsen
3. Ted Kennedy

Results of the Alaska primary, March 11th 1980

1. Reubin Askew
2. Ted Kennedy
3. Jerry Brown

Results of the Florida primary, March 11th 1980

1. Reubin Askew
2. Ted Kennedy
3. Jerry Brown

Results of the Georgia primary, March 11th 1980

1. Ted Kennedy
2. Reubin Askew
3. Lloyd Bentsen

Results of the Hawaii primary, March 11th 1980

1. Ted Kennedy
2. Reubin Askew
3. Jerry Brown

Results of the Oklahoma primary, March 11th 1980

1. Ted Kennedy
2. Reubin Askew
3. Lloyd Bentsen

Results of the Washington primary, March 11th 1980

1. Ted Kennedy
2. Jerry Brown
3. Reubin Askew

Results of the Delaware primary, March 12th 1980

1. Ted Kennedy
2. Reubin Askew
3. Jerry Brown

Results of the Mississippi primary, March 15th 1980

1. Reubin Askew
2. Lloyd Bentsen
3. Ted Kennedy

Results of the South Carolina primary, March 15th 1980

1. Reubin Askew
2. Ted Kennedy
3. Lloyd Bentsen

Results of the Wyoming primary, March 15th 1960

1. Ted Kennedy
2. Reubin Askew
3. Lloyd Bentsen

The primaries mostly went as expected, but Senator Kennedy pulled off a shocking win in Georgia and a stronger than expected result in South Carolina. Still, Governor Askew secured enough victories to ensure his survival in the race, even after Jerry Brown withdrew and endorsed Kennedy. There were four more primaries before the end of month, all of which had significant delegate numbers:

Results of the Illinois primary, March 18th 1980

1. Ted Kennedy
2. Reubin Askew
3. Lloyd Bentsen

Results of the Virginia primary, March 22nd 1980

1. Reubin Askew
2. Ted Kennedy
3. Lloyd Bentsen

(Following the Virginia primary, Bentsen withdrew, pledging to campaign for Governor Askew)

Results of the Connecticut primary, March 25th 1980

1. Ted Kennedy
2. Reubin Askew

Results of the New York primary, March 25th 1980

1. Ted Kennedy
2. Reubin Askew

Kennedy now held a notable, albeit not decisive, lead in the delegate count. The primaries throughout April would be crucial for both campaigns. For Kennedy, a strong victory would get him the nomination, while if Askew could pull out some surprises, he might just stay the course and prevent a first-ballot victory for the Senator.

Askew shocked many by pulling off victories in the first three primaries of the month, held in Kansas, Wisconsin and Louisiana. It was widely anticipated that he would extend his winning streak in Arizona, but Kennedy managed to pull off a narrow victory. While the Floridian rallied with a win in Idaho, this was to be his last victory of the campaign, with Kennedy achieving victory in North Dakota, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Vermont.

In a hastily-arranged press conference the morning after the final April primaries, former Florida Governor Reubin Askew announced that he would no longer actively campaign for the presidency. He congratulated Senator Kennedy on a strong race, pledged his support, and announced he would formally stay in the race so that the voices of his delegates could be heard.

Now the only active candidate in the race, Kennedy achieved victory in all of the remaining primaries. He now had enough delegates to secure the nomination on the first ballot. The Democratic nomination sewn up, Kennedy looked forward to a much more settled convention than the Republican candidates.

The Convention

The 1980 Democratic National Convention was held from August 11th-14th in New York City’s Madison Square Garden. The Kennedy camp spent the first two days of the convention in quiet seclusion, confirming their Vice-Presidential pick. Kennedy had known for some time who he would select, but it seemed only sensible to keep his options open.

The balloting began on schedule, but once the counting reached Florida, Reubin Askew interrupted the balloting and asked to speak to the delegates. In a very much orchestrated moment, Askew made clear his support for Senator Kennedy, and released his delegates. He then urged the delegates to nominate Senator Kennedy by acclamation. His request was duly granted.

Also nominated on the first ballot was Kennedy’s Vice-Presidential pick. Kennedy realised that he needed a pick that would give the ticket both geographical and ideological balance. He also sought an expert in foreign policy matters, one area where the Massachusetts senator was perceived to be lacking. The candidate eventually selected by Kennedy ticked all of these boxes: Washington Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson.

“In an America that is weaker now than it was eleven years ago, both at home and abroad, the American people are crying out for change. Not only do they seek someone who shares their beliefs and their ideals, but they seek someone who can get the job done, who can unite this country, not divide it. Ronald Reagan and John Connally are not the answer. No, my friends, Ted Kennedy is the answer!”


Excerpt from Vice-Presidential nominee Senator Henry Jackson’s speech

“Thank you very much, thank you. I come before you tonight to announce that I graciously accept your nomination for the Presidency of the United States. I come before you to set out my vision for our nation. I come before you tonight not to argue as a candidate but to affirm a cause.

I am asking you to renew the commitment of the Democratic Party to economic justice. I am asking you to renew our commitment to a fair and lasting prosperity that can put American back to work. This is the cause that brought me into the campaign and that sustained me for nine months across 100,000 miles in 50 states. We had our losses, but we emerged better for them. There is no shame in not winning, no shame in falling down; there is shame in failing to get back up.

There is also shame in not helping your fellow man to his feet when he falls down, and that is what we in the Democratic Party must seek to do in 1980. We must help our fellow countrymen, because as we all know, Richard Nixon has done nothing to help the poor, the hungry and the needy of our nation in these last eleven years.

Since the days of Thomas Jefferson, the cause of the Democratic Party has been the cause I speak of, the cause of the common man and the common woman. Our commitment has been, since the days of Andrew Jackson, to all those he called ‘the humble members of society - the farmers, mechanics and labourers’. On this foundation we have defined ourselves.

I seek this nation’s highest office not for personal glory. My desire to be President is not motivated by egotism, nor is it motivated by a desire to create a so-called Kennedy dynasty. Instead, I run for President because of my deep belief in the ideals of the Democratic Party, and in the potential of our Party and of a President to make a difference. I speak out of a deep trust in our capacity to proceed with boldness and a common vision that will feel and heal the suffering of our time and the divisions of our nation.

I ask us tonight to make for ourselves a series of pledges, so that we may never stray from these lofty ideals:

Let us pledge that we will never misuse unemployment, high interest rates, and human misery as false weapons against inflation.

Let us pledge that employment will be the first priority of our economic policy.

Let us pledge that there will be security for all those who are now at work, and let us pledge that there will be jobs for all who are out of work; and we will not compromise on the issues of jobs.

These are not simplistic pledges. Simply put, they are the heart of our tradition and they have been the soul of our Party across the generations. It is the glory and the greatness of our tradition to speak for those who have no voice, to remember those who are forgotten, to respond to the frustrations and fulfill the aspirations of all Americans seeking a better a life in a better land.

We dare not forsake that tradition.

We cannot let the great purposes of the Democratic Party become the bygone passages of history.

We must not permit the Republicans to seize and run on the slogans of prosperity. We have heard President Nixon trying to talk like a Democrat. He has proved that simply quoting Franklin Roosevelt is not enough.

The Grand Old Party thinks it has already secured four more years in the White House, simply because it speaks in terms that traditionally is the domain of Democrats. Let me say this; 40 years ago an earlier generation of Republicans attempted the same trick, and Franklin Roosevelt himself replied, ‘Most Republican leaders have bitterly fought and blocked the forward surge of average men and women in their pursuit of happiness. Let us not be deluded that overnight those leaders have suddenly become the friends of average men and average women. You know, very few of us are that gullible.’

The President has been awash with crocodile tears for our economic stress, but we know by his long record, and the long record of his party, that his recent words are not his true beliefs. The same Republicans who are talking about the crisis of unemployment could very well be led by a man who once said, and I quote, ‘Unemployment insurance is a prepaid vacation plan for freeloaders’. Ronald Reagan is no friend of labour.

And on the campaign trail several months ago, John Connally said, and again I quote, ‘Many of the so-called working poor are simply lazy do-nothings’. Neither of these men is a friend of this city and our great urban centres across the nation.

The great adventures which our opponents offer is four more years of the same. Progress is our heritage, not theirs. What is right for us as Democrats is also the right way for Democrats to win.

The commitment I seek is not to outworn views but to old values that will never wear out. Programs may sometimes become obsolete, but the ideal of fairness always endures. Circumstances may change, but the work of compassion must continue. It is surely correct that we cannot solve problems by throwing money at them, but it is also correct that we dare not throw out our national problems onto a scrap heap of inattention and indifference. The poor may be out of political fashion, but they are not without human needs. The middle class may be angry, but they have not lost the dream that all Americans can advance together.

The task of a President in the 1980s is not to parade scapegoats or to seek refuge in reaction, but to match our power to the possibilities of progress. While others talked of free enterprise, it was the Democratic Party that acted and we ended excessive regulation and restored competition to the marketplace.

As Democrats we recognise that each generations of Americans has a rendezvous with a different reality. The answers of one generation become the questions of the next generation. But there is a guiding star in the American firmament. It is as old as the revolutionary belief that all people are created equal, and as clear as the contemporary condition of Liberty City and the South Bronx. Again and again Democratic leaders have followed that star and they have given new meaning to the old values of liberty and justice for all.

We are the Party of the New Freedom, the New Deal and the New Frontier. We have always been the Party of hope. So this year let us offer new hope, new hope to an America uncertain about the present, but unsurpassed in its potential for the future.

To all those who are idle in the cities and industries of America let us provide new hope for the dignity of useful work. Democrats have always believed that a basic civil right of all Americans is their right to earn their own way. The Party of the people must always be the Party of full employment.

To all those who doubt the future of our economy, let us provide new hope for the reindustrialisation of America. Let our vision reach beyond the next election or the next year to a new generation of prosperity. If we could rebuild Germany and Japan after World War II, then surely we can restore our own nation and revive our inner cities in the 1980s.

To all those who work hard for a living wage, let us provide new hope that their price of their employment shall not be an unsafe workplace and a death at an earlier age.

And to all those who inhabit our land from California to the New York Island, from the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters, let us provide new hope that prosperity shall not be purchased by poisoning the air, the rivers, and the natural resources that are the greatest gift of this continent. We must insist that our children and our grandchildren shall inherit a land which they can truly call America the beautiful.

Finally, we cannot have a fair prosperity in isolation from a fair society. So I will continue to stand for a national health insurance. We must not surrender to the relentless medical inflation that can bankrupt almost anyone and that may soon break the budgets of government at every level. Let us insist on real controls over what doctors and hospitals can charge, and let us resolve that the state of a family’s health shall never depend on the size of a family’s wealth.

The President, the Vice President, the members of Congress have a medical plan that meets their needs in full, and whenever senators and representatives catch a little cold, the Capitol physician will see them immediately, treat them promptly, fill a prescription on the spot. We do not get a bill even if we ask for it, and when do you think was the last time a member of Congress asked for a bill from the Federal Government? And I say again, as I have before, if health insurance is good enough for the President, the Vice President, the Congress of the United States, then it’s good enough for you and every family in America.

I come to you with these demands for our nation because I am a Democrat, we are all Democrats, and we believe in a just and fair society. Democrats can be proud that we chose a different course and a different platform. We can be proud that our Party stands for investment in safe energy, instead of a nuclear future that may threaten the future itself. We must not permit the neighbourhoods of America to be permanently shadowed by the fear of nuclear meltdown.

We can be proud that our Party stands for a fair housing law to unlock the doors of discrimination once and for all. The American house will be divided against itself so long as there is prejudice against any American buying or renting a home.

And we can be proud that our Party stands plainly and publicly and persistently for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Women hold their rightful place at our convention, and women must have their rightful place in the Constitution of the United States. On this issue we will not yield, we will not equivocate, we will not rationalise, explain or excuse. We will stand for the E.R.A. and for the recognition at long last that our nation was made up of founding mothers as well as founding fathers.

A fair prosperity and a just society are within our vision and our grasp, and we do not have every answer. There are questions not yet asked, waiting for us in the recesses of the future. But of this much we can be certain because it is the lesson of all of our history: together a President and the people can make a difference. I have found that faith still alive wherever I have travelled across this land. So let us reject the counsel of retreat and the call to reaction. Let us go forward in the knowledge that history only helps those who helps themselves.

There will be setbacks and sacrifices in the years ahead; but I am convinced that we as a people are ready to give something back to our country in return for all it has given to us.

Let this be our commitment: whatever sacrifices must be made will be shared and shared fairly. And let this be our confidence: at the end of our journey and always before us shines that ideal of liberty and justice for all.

In closing, let me say a few words to all those that I have met and to all those who have supported me at this convention and across the country. There were hard hours on our journey, but so many of you gave not only your help, but even more, you gave your hearts, and because of you, this has been a happy campaign. You welcomed Joan, me, and our family into your homes and neighbourhoods, your churches, your campuses, your union halls.

When I think back of all the miles and all the months and all the memories, I think of you, and I recall the poet’s word, and I say, ‘what golden friends I had’. Among you, my golden friends across this land, I have listened and learned. I have learned how many, far too many, idle men and women are desperate to work. I have seen how many, far too many, working families desperate to protect themselves and their families from poverty.

Yet I have also sensed a yearning for a new hope among the people in every state where I have been. Tonight, in their name, I come here to accept the nomination of the Democratic Party, and for their sake, I ask you all to stand with me, and fight with me, to make this a more perfect union. I congratulate all of my opponents on a campaign well fought, and I thank you for coming together again, a united Democratic Party, united on the basis of Democratic principles. Together, we will march towards not a Kennedy victory, but a Democratic victory in 1980.

May it be said of our Party in 1980 that we united once again, that we found our faith once again. May it be said that we sought, in the words of Tennyson that my brothers loved so much, ‘to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield’.

For me, this campaign is only beginning. For us, this campaign is only beginning, but for all those who cares are our concern, the work will never end, the cause will endure, hope will still live, and the dream shall never die. God bless you, and God bless these United States!”


The convention acceptance speech of Senator Edward Moore Kennedy of Massachusetts (Author Note: Essentially Kennedy’s OTL concession speech with numerous edits)


The Democratic ticket, 1980


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