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American History: The Vietnam War Essay

1959 words - 8 pages

“Nixon Wins By Thin Margin” read the front page of the New York Times on Thursday November 7th, 1968, two days after Election Day. Richard Nixon won about 4 times the margin he lost to John F. Kennedy in 1960. The craziness that occurred during the election went hand in hand with the chaos of 1968. In this election, there were three candidates: Richard Nixon of the Republican Party, Hubert Humphrey of the Democratic Party, and George Wallace of the American Independent Party. The candidates did not know it at the time, but they would become part of the Presidential Election that would help shape American Politics to what they are today. The election of Richard Nixon in 1968 marked a turning ...view middle of the document...

Soon after President Johnson's withdrawal, it looked like Robert Kennedy was going to win the nomination; however, Sirhan Sirhan assassinated him. Unfortunately, the violence did not end then. At the Democratic National Convention in August, thousands of protesters gathered with the purpose of, as said by Tom Hayden, “[making] it impossible for the next president to be elected without first agreeing to end the war” (Gould 126). Four thousand five hundred police armed with mace, tear gas, and clubs beat protesters, reporters, and bystanders, injuring more than a thousand people. The unfortunate set of events set the scene for the election of that same year, 1968.
Unlike most Presidential Elections the election of 1968 had three candidates. The Republican nominee was Richard Nixon. Nixon was not new to presidential elections, as he lost the election of 1968 to John Kennedy by a very narrow margin in the popular vote. Nixon also lost the California Governor election to Pat Brown in 1962. After these two major political losses, Richard Nixon told the press that they would no longer have him to kick around anymore, ending his political career (“National” n.pag.). For this reason, the nomination of Richard Nixon was a surprise to most, a revival of his political career. As his running mate, Nixon selected Maryland Governor Spiro Agnew. Agnew, who seemed a good choice coming from a border state, had a tendency to misspeak. He called Polish-Americans “polacks”, called a Japanese correspondent a “fat jap”, and accused Hubert Humphrey of being “soft on communism” which reminded people of Senator Joseph McCarthy (White 433). Hubert Humphrey, the Vice President under Lyndon Johnson, was the democratic nominee. He selected Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine as his running mate. Muskie, in contrast to Agnew, was an excellent public speaker. George Wallace, Governor of Alabama, was the candidate from the American Independent Party. As his running mate he selected a retired Air Force General, Curtis LeMay. LeMay supported a total victory in Vietnam saying, “[tell Vietnam] to draw in their horns and stop the aggression or were going to bomb them back to the stone age” and “I don’t believe the world will end if we explode a nuclear weapon” (Gould 148). Wallace knew he did not have good odds of wining the election. His goal, instead, was to win enough electoral votes to prevent either of the other candidates from reaching the 270-vote minimum. This would force either a vote in the House of Representatives or a bargaining process for electoral votes, where Wallace would be able to achieve some of his political objectives (“Nixon Wins” n.pag.).
The candidates focused on two main topics: the Vietnam War and civil unrest. Each candidate agrees that the civil unrest must be stopped, but George Wallace wanted to end it with segregation while the other two candidates had more practical means. As for the issue of the Vietnam War, LBJ asked all candidates to...

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