This is an old revision of the document!
Robert F. Kennedy (20/11/25-06/06/68)
The brother of John F. Kennedy, he was the US Attorney General from 21/01/61-27/09/64. Famed for “Ruthless Bobby” moniker and the battle against organized crime, he was elected as Senator from New York in 1964. He opposed the Vietnam War beginning in 1966, and held a long-standing grudge with President Johnson which culminated in his brief assumption of the Democratic leadership in 1968. First “New Democrat” according to Bill Clinton and RogueBeaver. Assassinated by Jordanian Sirhan B. Sirhan on June 5, 1968 at the Ambassador Hotel.
New York Senatorial campaign, 1964.
Issues: Carpetbaggerism (native New Yorker, 1925-42), father's anti-Semitism (true, but the opposite for Bobby), ideology (more conservative than Keating).
(D) Robert Kennedy: 53.5%
(R) Kenneth Keating (I): 43.4%
*Ignore all written delegate estimates of OTL, because there's no accuracy before 1976. Humphrey definitely leads, but he has soft numbers.
Presidential Campaign: Entered March 16, 1968, having missed the early filing deadlines. That explains the MA results.
Indiana primary, May 7
Robert Kennedy: 42%
Eugene McCarthy: 31%
Ind. Gov. Roger Branigin: 27%
Nebraska primary, May 14
Robert Kennedy: 52%
Eugene McCarthy: 31%
Oregon primary, May 28
Eugene McCarthy: 44%
Robert Kennedy: 38%
California primary, June 4: Winner-take-all, 175 delegates
Robert Kennedy: 46%
Eugene McCarthy: 42%
Atty. Gen. Thomas Lynch: 10%
New Jersey, June 4
Eugene McCarthy: 36%
Robert Kennedy: 31%
South Dakota, June 4
Robert Kennedy: 50%
Hubert Humphrey: 30%
Eugene McCarthy: 20%
RogueBeaver is happy to answer any questions.
Ruthless: Hated that nickname,but see personality section for more info.
1968: California. Lose that in June, no nomination. Lose it in November- eight years of waiting. Likely VP: Sanford- without two to three Southern states, November's gone. Daley controls the “Syndicate” bosses, who can completely reverse the equation with a couple of phone calls. 75% of the delegates are machine-controlled. RFK's campaign, though very ad-hoc, was outraising HHH by obscene margins (self-financing allowed) and was motivated. For McCarthy- he can release the delegates, because putting HHH over the top would be antithetical to his raison d'etre. Final outcome: RFK nominated, 50-50 chance in November.
Nixon is the better debater- their sparring over Genovese in 1965, Vietnam, the blood-to-NV comment, etc. More so: Nixon projects an aura of “cool” publicly. Privately, not so much. RFK is the reverse- he hated TV broadcasts. Richard Nixon did not publicly raise his voice, pound the podium, or allow civilians in such close proximity to (even holding) his person. Those polarity numbers, surpassing Hillary at her peak, are very personality-driven.
Likely outcome: tie on content, Nixon on style.
RFK and Contemporaries
Why Burbs Hated Bobby: Especially the motorcades. If the average middle-class burb resident sees one older candidate delivering a speech on their needs, speaking in an indoor voice- they'll be sympathetic. Then we have the candidate who allows people to touch his person, take shoes and cufflinks (without precedent before or since), speaks very passionately, prefers the streets to canned indoor speeches, who do you think they'll vote for? Not someone who summons them to the barricades and tries to persuade them of his concerns rather than the opposite.
Typical suburban view: “He's ruthless and phony as a twelve-dollar bill.”
Why the South loathed Bobby
Civil rights, thinking he'd try Reconstruction, Round Two. Often wanted him dead.
Deputy FBI Director Tolson: “I hope somebody shoots and kills the S.O.B.”
Why LBJ and RFK loathed each other: Mutual Contempt by Jeff Shesol. Mostly unprintable language from both.
Nixon and RFK: No data available. Beaver's Estimate: professional respect, personal dislike.
HHH and RFK Varies, but no permanent animosity on either side.
Gene and RFK: Mutual personal dislike.
RFK and Hoover: “J. Edna”- referring to Hoover's homo/bisexuality. “That hippie intellectual”- Hoover
Personality and “Minority Coalition”.
RFK connected to people through sincerity and personality, not policy. Interestingly enough, in private, this was a man who was very shy, hated being touched, and disliked small talk except among intimates. Speeches started off slow and halting, but after each round of applause, it culminated in shouting, pounding the podium, and that's where the three major gaffes occurred: “dictatorship strangled in own web of repression”, “darker impulses”, “violence of institutions.” That's how Bobby Kennedy connected: by making people feel he understood their needs by going where no one else did except by TV. Minority coalition goes like this: Minorities (blacks, Hispanics, natives), Reagan Democrats (who voted Nixon/Wallace in the general) and farmers. Suburbanites are firmly in Nixon's corner.
1972: running against a popular incumbent Nixon in OTL conditions is a kamikaze act. Better to become Democratic Dictator, rebuild the organization, and wait for either Watergate (where he can replace Ervin) or 1976.
Policy: There will likely be a phased US withdrawal from SVN and a reversion to supplying Thieu with proper equipment. On the domestic front: expect UHC similar to CHIP, increased emphasis on urban development, perhaps a go at Taft-Hartley. Foreign relations: relations with China, possibly with India. Likely re-elected in 1972 by a landslide if the economy and Vietnam hold.
By 1976, likely Jackson v. Reagan. If RFK waits until 1976, he will be more focused on bread-and-butter domestic issues, deal with a crappy economy, and might lose in 1980. If he wins, then likely Bush Sr. succeeds him in 1984.
1976: Kennedy/Sanford v. Reagan/Dole: Narrow RFK victory. Reagan is butterflied as President.
First term: dealing with crappy economy, with a mix of Kennedy loyalists and OTL Carter Cabinet members. SVN likely stable. Outreach to India over Pakistan. Iran hostage crisis: pressuring the Shah to democratize, making arms sales contigent on that.
Second term: early CAFTA, following Volcker's advice on the economy, perhaps a National Service Administration (domestic Peace Corps). 1980 boycott: he sends the athletes, but denounces the Afghanistan invasion. Will support the mujahideen. Falklands: staunch ally of Thatcher.
Legacy: Truman with the Kennedy aura- not a Great, but in the Top Ten. __
ATL: Currently serving as President of the United States in RogueBeaver's “Eastern Entrance” (1969-present), “Sunshine Sadness” 1961-present, “Flight of Fate” (1969-present). Serving as the Conservative British Prime Minister from 1978 onwards in RogueBeaver's “High Wire Eire”.
RogueBeaver's historical figure of specialty.