tv Reel America CBS Face the Nation with George Wallace - 1968 CSPAN April 15, 2018 4:26pm-4:54pm EDT
>> on reel america, we continue our look back at the 1968 presidential campaign. former governor george wallace ran as a nominee and applied on cbs choco "face the nation.". the self-proclaimed law and order candidate discussed his chances of winning. and his views on segregation, urban riots and the vietnam war. >> governor wallace, is your real ambition to win the presidency, or is it to get enough votes to dictate who doesn't go to the white house? governor wallace: our real purpose for running for president is to win. and went out right. if you will follow me around in the country and see the
reception we're getting from one and of the country to the other, you can see that we have a chance of winning the election on november 5 at the. >> from cbs washington in color, "face the nation.". a spontaneous and unrehearsed news interview with george wallace, former governor of alabama and former candidate of -- presidential candidate of the american independent party. he will be questioned by cbs news correspondents. we shall resume the interview with governor wallace in the moment. >> >> governor, despite your own optimism about your chances, every poll, every indicator of a national opinion shows you yourselves have no hope to win the presidency. your critics contend therefore, very or deliberately adopting the role of spoiler, trying to throw the election into the house of representatives.
how would you answer analysis? governor wallace: at least we have critics and they are paying attention to our movement. as you noticed in the papers, and the last number of days, members of both parties have said, we must join together to stop this movement headed by george wallace. of course, george wallace is one individual but i'm speaking for many millions of people in our country. i might say there are many polls that i win. radio and television polls all the way from new bedford, massachusetts, syracuse, new york, all the way to honolulu. i have won on television and radio. the other polls you are talking about show we have doubled our strength since april of last year, i believe.
we are just now getting into the campaign. and if you follow me around the country, you will see that we have larger crowds, than even the candidates for the two other existing major parties. as witness to our ohio trip yesterday, we had larger crowds than those who came out to witness the arrival of candidates for republican or democratic nominations. we can win the election, and that is the purpose of running. it is not to spoil anything, other than to spoil the chances of the republican and democratic party, neither of them are giving the american people a choice. >> governor, you just said that you thought you could win. could you indicates the states where you think you could win? governor wallace: i think we will win every one of the border states, from missouri all the way to texas and oklahoma, and all the way to the free state of maryland. we have an excellent chance in states like pennsylvania, new jersey, ohio, california, michigan.
we have an excellent chance in states like nebraska and connecticut and new england. in fact, we are running well in all of the states, even the western states. i think we will win the southern border states and several of the states in the midwest, and a good chance to win california. we also have a chance new york, whether some people believe in it or not. in fact, we receive more mail than the state of new york than any state in the union. >> governor wallace, are there any conditions under now which you would withdraw before november? could platform changes cause that? well as fish there are no conditions under which i would withdraw from the race of the presidency.
both of them, neither of them are giving american people a choice. host: governor, you just said you thought you could win. leaders ofwith the both parties of congress joined together to pass this anti-property ownership and in my judgment, if a platform was given to the american people by one of the parties that suited me, it would have to be 180 degree turn from the president's position of the leadership of the two parties. host: but governor, in your speeches as recently as last week, you occasionally said, this is not an exact quote, this is the gist of it -- regardless of what happens in november, we are going to change some trends. gov. wallace: yes, i'm saying that. i say that right now. i say that the fact that we are having the largest crowds, to tumultuous support for our attitude and philosophy
throughout the country is today making the leadership of both national parties sit down and think. it is making members of the congress whether we have -- wonder whether we have been voting rights, whether we should change our position. this will help change trends in the country. host: are you talking then about possible spoiling? gov. wallace: a change in trend is not going to spoil anything. it is going to help correct things. that is exactly what we are in the race for, is to change directions in our country because neither one of the two national parties are given -- giving people a choice in change of direction. >> governor, may i quote to you and observation in last february, when you contended
that your campaign role could be that of a spoiler. gov. wallace: who said that? host: this was a new york times on february 8, when you were quoted as having said that. gov. wallace: i said that? host: you said that. gov. wallace: i don't know exactly all of the quotes that i made on the press conferences and the context at which that statement was made, but let me say this, yes, i am in the race to spoil, but not to spoil in the sense you are talking about. i want to spoil the chances of both national parties on making the president. that is what we are doing. i can say this, and anybody who votes for the national republican or national democratic party will be throwing their vote away if they think like we do, because you do not have a choice there. host: governor, let's try it this way. you also said at that time, again, according to the new york times, if the election is thrown into the house, we, that is you, have all to gain and nothing to lose. you implied that that kind of a deadlock could force some important concessions in the
presidential candidate, whose electorate vote, along with yours, would add up to 70. if you're thinking along those lines and thinking change. gov. wallace: the context in which that statement was made came about as a result from a question of a member of the press in the audience. i've never voluntarily said we are going to throw it into the house and that is our purpose. but the question is asked by members of the press, if the hypothetical question and speculated question, if neither one of the two parties get a majority, what would be your position? well, i always answer the hypothetical question by saying of course, if that happens, and
there always is that probability when there are three or more running, because it takes a majority to win, then it would wind up in the house unless it was settled in the electoral college. i might remind you that the electoral college meets first, and therein lies the solution, that is, election of the president. but i might well be number one in the electoral college instead of number three. anyway, when i was trying to say when we said we have everything to gain and nothing to lose, is that if i were not a candidate for the presidency, one of the two major national parties in existence now would win the election, and they are tweedledee and tweedledum. so my running for the presidency, and even if i did not win, we would be in no worse position than we would have been had i not run. so we have everything to gain and nothing to lose. host: ok, governor. let's ask another hypothetical question based on the premise of you winning presidency. what would you do about riots? gov. wallace: what would i do
about riots -- the first thing i would say as the president, i give my moral support to the police and firemen of this country. the first thing i would do is, a continuation of the breakdown of law and how it exists in the district of columbia where we are talking today, where just today we have pictures of people murdered in the streets, i would use the office of the presidency and in view of the fact that this is a district in order to restore order in the district of columbia. if i had to call federal troops into this city, i would give my moral support to the police in the country. i would ask congress to pass legislation that did away with decisions of the course that handcuffed the police. and i would just say we are going to have law and order.
when i said that, in my election, would indicate that the politicians and leaders of the largest cities of our country, especially that the people of our country are sick and tired of the breakdown of law and order and they, in turn, in my judgment, would tell the police to enforce the law. and in my judgment, enforcement of the law would bring about a restoration of law and order in this country. without the expenditure of billions of dollars, as proposed by some of the social engineers. host: you were quoted as having observed once that the people know the way to stop the riot is to hit someone on the head. gov. wallace: i have said something similar to that. when somebody goes out and begins to loot and burn a building down, which endangers the health and safety of everybody, that is a good way to stop it. if you let the police knock somebody in the head for breaking a plate glass window, or assaulting a person on the street throwing a firebomb. i think it would be getting out mighty light, if someone knocked him in the head. and frankly, that is exactly ought to be done. if i were the president of the united states, i would take what was necessary to prevent what
happened in the city, if we had the order to knock the heads of many people. when you do that, you will satisfy the overwhelming majority of people of all races in this country because it is not a matter of race, it is a matter of anarchists. the government has can are -- how touts out to every anarchist group in the united states and as a consequence, we don't have any faith in the streets of our countries right here in washington, d.c.. host: governor, you talked about the trends and reversing these trends, but there are many people who feel the result of your actions and the things you say is to accelerate or speed up these trends. one senator called you, governor, the chief aider and a better of the civil rights laws you pretend -- abettor you pretend to be championing. gov. wallace: you are quoting something said four years ago. he hadn't said that lately, has he? i would like you to ask the senator, because he has a right to his opinion. i think he is a fine man, but don't tell me that i'm responsible for what happened in los angeles, and what happened in detroit, i was not there. i was not the chief aider and abettor to the breakdown of law and order. in alabama, contrary to what you might know, we did not have any
breakdown of law and order in that state. we had demonstrations. host: no breakdown of law and order in birmingham? gov. wallace: no sir, no sir. what breakdown of law and order was there? we had demonstrations that put water on people interested folks. host: what happened at the selma march? gov. wallace: one woman was shot on the highway by some thugs, people are shot in washington every day in philadelphia, as well every day. nobody got hurt in the march. we had 35,000 people. host: governor -- governor. you cannot say no one got hurt in the march. gov. wallace: nobody got hit in the head. host: i'm talking about the march 7th march. gov. wallace: who got hurt?
host: i would estimate conservatively that at least 15 were hurt. gov. wallace: 15 out of 35,000 people, did one of them have to go to the hospital? host: yes sir. gov. wallace: how many? host: we are talking about -- gov. wallace: one person went to the hospital, a person got hurt at the selma bridge, not a single person got killed involving the march. next week, 50 killed in detroit. 50 killed in los angeles, and a few people got their heads skinned in selma when there were 35,000 people there. you call that the breakdown of law and order? in washington, d.c., people got killed, hundreds of thousands got injured,. you talk about selma, 15. 15 got hurt. in 15 weeks of marching in
selma, 15 got hurt. in washington here the other day, over 1000 got injured in one day. so the breakdown of law and order is certainly not been in alabama, it has been in washington, detroit, new haven, other places outside of alabama. i would be glad to take your figures. 15 were hurt -- host: i'm talking about one day governor. we can go further into the -- the read killings. there were other killings. gov. wallace: there was one that took place after it was over, when it was under the complete jurisdiction of the federal government, not under the jurisdiction of the state. and one person was killed on the highway which was very tragic. when i compare that one person with how many was killed in washington, detroit, los angeles, so comparatively speaking, we have had peace.
and this is generally accepted in the press that we have had peace. [crosstalk] i think the -- host: i think the point senator urban was trying to make, his point was that what followed after that -- gov. wallace: let me say this, you are quoting him over four years ago, over five years ago -- host: is it right or is it wrong, what happened after 1964 or 1965? gov. wallace: every time somebody wants a law passed, they go out and do something. we had martin luther king tragically assassinated and they used that as an excuse to pass the anti-property laws on so-called open housing. so what followed after that? there's always somebody can say that some reason exists because of some law. but i can say to you, if i become the president, we are going to maintain law and order in the nation's capital. and when we do that, it will be good moral support for law and order throughout the united states, where women can walk the streets, where people can go to work, ride the subway dance transit systems of our company. host: governor, you have repeatedly objected to being called a racist. gov. wallace: yes, sir. host: you don't regard yourself as a racist? gov. wallace: no sir, i do not regard my person a racist, and i think the biggest racists are the people who call others racist. i think the biggest bigots in the world are the ones i call other folks bigots. i have more negro folk in the general election, and i would say they grow citizens would not have voted for my wife if they had considered me a racist or my wife a racist. gov. wallace: governor, when you were inaugurated, you said a very observation. you said segregation forever.
gov. wallace: i said that in the context of alabama's public school system. and i again say, when i said that i was honest. when i come to washington, d.c. and i see all of these folks who talk one way and moving virginia and maryland, when i see all these bridges over the potomac river to expedite the rush away from this city of the liberals -- host: what bridges? gov. wallace: they have all of these big bridges. i'm being facetious about that, but you sure have a lot of bridges because you have to expedite the rush away from the nation's capital. only six members of congress got their children in the public schools in washington. and all these pseudo-liberals and intellectuals here, who are hypocrites, have moved away from washington. host: governor, let's address
this question to yourself, what do you mean when you say segregation in the context of public schools. that is racist -- gov. wallace: i mean in the public school system. no sir, you see, segregation, you don't understand. there has been more mingling, mixing, and association and togetherness in alabama the net -- then there has been in new york or in washington, d.c.. but we did have a social separation in the school system because the school system of the rural south were in the social center. so we just, quite candid and honestly said we would have a separate school system and we were honest about it. host: no one doubts your honesty -- gov. wallace: -- host: i'm talking about the meaning of separation. gov. wallace: i'm trying to play up the hypocrisy of folks in the country and nation's capital who say we are for integration. host: i'm not relating them. i'm talking about your position, what would you do.
gov. wallace: i would not advocate segregation if i were president. i could care less what the people of alabama and california do in their school system, i say you run your school yourself. we are not going to use federal money. we will not bus children in chicago from one neighborhoods to the other. if you want to do in chicago, st. louis, or philadelphia, you do it. i would not advocate segregation of anything. i would advocate only do these domestic institutions be run by the people in philadelphia and in st. louis and los angeles. they could then have the type of school systems they wanted. host: we have federal laws that apply to all of the nation, not just the philadelphia laws. what would you do about the laws? gov. wallace: we don't have any laws that go as far as hew guidelines. those guidelines transcend the civil rights law. we will obey the law and the law of this country does not say you that you have got to transport little children from one neighborhood to another. in fact, the civil rights law
expressly prohibits that. yet hew is going beyond what the law says and i would stop that and i would ask the congress to change some laws that have taken over the public school systems of new york, philadelphia, chicago, and turn them back to the people there. i don't want any separate black and white in the country, in the sense of separatism that you are talking about. we have had more togetherness in -- host: why'd you advocate it? gov. wallace: i have not advocated that at all. we have had more togetherness in alabama then you have in washington, d.c. this is a segregated city here because of the hypocrites have moved out. host: governor, can i switch you to another subject? gov. wallace: this is a hypocrite capital of the world. host: governor, you have said you thought you had a chance to be president, and maybe we should address ourselves with the questions that a president
would have to deal with. what would be your approach of the problem of the nuclear arms race, the nonproliferation treaty? gov. wallace: of course, i hope and pray the step in the non-dissemination of nuclear information is honest. host: noninformation. gov. wallace: gov. wallace: noninformation, but the weapons themselves. that it is an honest effort to the major powers that must sign the treaty. host: would you be in favor of signing? gov. wallace: i would be in favor of that step, provided we had adequate inspection programs, adequate safeguards to see that the treaty was not violated. host: does the treaty satisfy you as it is now? gov. wallace: does what? host: does the tree satisfy you as it is written now? -- treaty satisfy you as it is written now? gov. wallace: i'm not exactly sure whether it satisfies me or not, but i would say this, it is a step in the direction of dialogue between the great powers and the great nuclear powers, and the matter of giving to atomic nuclear weapons to other countries, and to prohibit that is good provided we have adequate safeguards. host: do you think the safeguards are adequate? gov. wallace: i'm not sure whether they are or not. i am just not sure. if they are adequate that is one thing, if they are not, that is another.
and of course, we understand that under the treaty, a nation can withdraw within a certain notice to the other signatories, which really means it is not all that binding. but i am for doing something concrete in the matter of the spread of nuclear weapons as far as adding safeguards and protecting the national interest of the united states. host: as a matter of vietnam, around the campaign trail, people that support you say they like your stand on vietnam. yet your stand is rather simple. could you say just how we should solve that? gov. wallace: what i have said in my speeches, you know, there is no simple solution. i don't impugn the motives on the top issue, because it is an exasperating experience. i do say, again, we should not have gotten in by ourselves, that we should have had a long talk with our western european allies and non-communist asian allies and insist they help us in some amount because we have helped them so much with our money and nuclear skill, but that is water over the dam and we are in vietnam, whether we like it or not. so whatever we do should be in the interest of those who are there. i pray the paris peace talks are successful. once they get me on the propaganda stage that we can have an audible piece through -- paece through diplomatic and political negotiations. if this fails, there is only one conclusion to rely upon, one
method to rely upon. and that is the joint chief of staff. if they thought the world -- war could be concluded militarily with conventional weapons, that is what i would support. then bring the american serviceman home. host: let's take this step by step, sir. right now, we are in paris. you have not mentioned, as other
candidates have, whether or not this country should insist on some sort of recognition of the national liberation front, how do you feel about that? gov. wallace: i think maybe the sad experience and layoffs where you have had coalition government, in which the viet cong or the communist terrorists are involved, that you lay the groundwork for the real takeover of the country by the communists. at the moment, and i think i would be even later. i am against the terrorist groups, the viacom and the national liberation front being -- viet cong and the national liberation front involved in the government by negotiating -- through negotiations, by giving them a place in the government. i don't think they deserve to be in the government, and if you let them be represented in the peace talks and set up a government with them having an equal voice, or a voice with the other groups in south vietnam, you're really setting the basis for a takeover from the viet cong. of south vietnam. host: do you see any hope for political settlement without any recognition of the and lf -- nlf? gov. wallace: i don't know exactly -- i could not tell you.
i don't know the president knows, or the republicans know, i think we will have to wait and see what comes out of the paris peace talks. we can pray and hope about it, but if they do not get a settlement, an audible settlement from the paris peace talks, in my judgment, we ought to lean on the joint chiefs of staff and have a military conclusion in southeast asia and bring the american serviceman home. and we should also stop the folks in this country from advocating communist victory, and building the morale of the communists. i am tired of our children and grandchildren -- host: how? gov. wallace: stop them how? by inviting a professor that makes a speech calling for communist victory and is printed in a communist world. that aids the communists. a man who raises money, blood, and clothes for the viet cong and flies their flag. that is not sympathy, that is
treason. you're right to say get out of the war, but you do have a right to call for a communist victory -- you do not have a right to call for a communist victory and every man on the street is sick and tired of it. >> governor, we have run out of time. thank you so much for being here. >> today on face the nation, george wallace, former governor of alabama was interviewed by cbs news correspondent nelson benton, joseph kraft, news correspondent for cbs hall. a cbs news correspondent led the questioning. face the nation originated in color from cbs washington. >> next sunday, we continue our series "1968: america in turmoil," is a look at women's rights. the 1968 miss america pageant challenge not only the beauty contest, but long-held assumptions about american womanhood. women's liberation became part of the national conversation, transforming household at work
laces across the country, and society at health. that is live next sunday, april 22 at 8:30 a.m. eastern here on american history tv. >> our c-span cities tour takes american history tv on the road to feature the history of cities across america. you're watching american history tv. all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. the sam noble museum is building a history museum in the state of oklahoma. this is the hall of ancient life introducingdoes is people to the great diversity of life over time. there are some exhibits the show diversity from throughout the world and then as we move into this part, we are talking