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tv   The Contenders Adlai E. Stevenson II  CSPAN  October 16, 2020 4:07pm-6:11pm EDT

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on sunday at 9:00 a.m. eastern, the final debate between ronald reagan and walter mondale and the second debate between george h.w. bush and michael dukakis. and john f. kennedy's speak on church and state followed by reagan's speech, the myth of the great society speech. exploring the american story. watch american history tv this weekend on c-span3. >> you're watching american history tv. every weekend on c-span3, explore our nation's past. c-span3, created by america's cable television companies as a public service and brought to you today by your television provider. >> ladies and gentlemen of the
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convention, my fellow citizens, i accept your nomination and your program. [ cheers and applause ] and now my friends that you have made your decision, i will fight to win that office with all my heart and my soul. [ cheers and applause ] and with your help, i have no doubt that we will win. [ cheers and applause ] >> help me to do the job in this autumn of conflict and of campaign. help me to do the job in these years of darkness and doubt and crisis which stretch beyond the horizon of tonight's happy vision. and we will justify our gorgeous past and the loyalty of silent millions who look to us for
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compassion, for understanding, and for honest purpose. thus we will serve our great tradition greatly. i ask of you all you have. i will give you all i have -- >> and that was our contender this week, adlai stevenson, accepting the democratic nomination for president in 1952. we are joined by historian richard norton smith here in adlai stevenson's hold study in libertyville, illinois. richard norton smith, who was this one-term governor of illinois? >> well, to millions of americans that's all he was, a one-term governor of illinois. they knew nothing more about him. they had never heard a voice like his. they did not know that in some ways a political revolution was being touched off that night and that for the next decade, adlai stevenson would be certainly the voice of the democratic party,
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someone who would transform american politics even though he was never successful in his quest for the white house. >> how did he get the nomination in 1952 and in 1956. >> he's the last candidate to be drafted. he's the last candidate to require more than one ballot at a convention. he didn't want the nomination is the short answer. especially if the republicans nominated as they did dwight eisenhower who everyone thought was unbeatable and who stevenson thought wouldn't be such a bad president. there was a vacuum in the democratic party. harry truman was retiring. there was no obvious successor and stevenson gave a remarkable welcoming address at the chicago convention that had the effect almost of william jennings brian cross of gold. it touched off this drafted and a couple days later, he was giving this speech you just heard. >> this is the 9th in our
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14-week series, looking at the men who ran for president and changed american electricity. tonight our focus is adlai stevenson, 1900 to 1965 were his years of living. we are joined by richard norton smith. we are live from libertyville, illinois, 40 miles outside of chicago, at the stevenson family farm. we are in adlai stevenson's hold study in the house. and we're going to be joined by newton minow who worked and knew adlai stevenson for years and we are also pleased to tell you that we will be joined by senator adlai stevenson iii, the son of adlai stevenson and ten-year senator from the state of illinois. richard norton smith, before we leave the office here, there's some things sitting around that we want to hopefully get to learn a little bit more about governor stevenson. first of all, what is this hand?
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>> he talked about himself saying that he suffered from a bad case of hereditary politics. there are multiple generations of stevensons that are part of the story. his great grandfather who actually helped to persuade abraham lincoln to run for president? 1860. the lincoln connection was a powerful one with stevenson. this in fact is a cast of lincoln's hand that was created in 1860. >> also on the desk here is an address book. some of the names in this address book include eleanor roosevelt, walter and jean kerr. >> it hints at the catholicity of stevenson's appeal. he was a nonpolitician in many
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ways. eventually by millions of americans who declared themselves stevensonens. >> and standing between us is this old office chair. >> this in fact is governor stevenson's cabinet chair during the kennedy administration, no doubt we'll talk about this later on, he had a historic stint as american ambassador to the united nations and as such he was made a member of the cabinet. this is the chair that commemorates that. somewhat difficult relationship that he had with the kennedy administration. >> now, richard norton smith, you referred to the dynasty, the stevenson political dynasty a little earlier. here on the wall are some artifacts very quickly. >> his wife said that the stevensons all suffered from a bad case of ancestor worship. his grandfather was vice president of the united states. they had impressive ancestors.
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and then he ran again under william jennings brian. this is grandfather stevenson's hat and you can see the campaign items from the grover cleveland campaigns as well. >> again, welcome to you, thanks for joining us tonight for "the contenders," live from libertyville, illinois. richard norton smith and i are going to work our way over to the barn, the stevenson barn, on the family farm. we're currently in the house in the study. next to it is a barn. this was a working -- semiworking fashl rm with anima. we're going to work our way over there where there's a new display about adlai stevenson so you'll be able to see that as well. first, we want to show you campaign commercials so you can see some the video of adlai stevenson. these campaign commercials are from 1956 and 1952. one of them was filmed right here in this study.
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>> it's wonderful how sitting right here in my own library, thanks to television, i can talk to millions of people that i couldn't reach any other way. but i'm not going to let this spoil me. i'm not going to stop traveling in this campaign. i can talk to you, yes, but i can't listen to you. i can't hear about your problems, about your hopes and your affairs. to do that i've got to go out and see you in person. and that's what i've been doing for the past several years, i traveled all over this country, hundreds of thousands of miles. i've been in every state. many of them more than once. and i have met thousands of you and millions of you have seen me. ♪ >> it's adlai to me, adlai to you. i don't care how you pronounce
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it. just go out and vote it. stevenson. >> i would rather have a man with a hole in his shoe that a hole in everything that he says. i'd rather have a man who knows what to do when he gets to be the prez. i love the governor of illinois. i know the gov will bring the dove of peace and joy. he was the boy who told all the crooks get lost. adlai, love you madly. what you did for your own great state, you're going to do for the rest of the 48. we're going to choose the gov that we love. he's the gov that nobody can shove.
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♪ ♪ old mcdonald had a farm back in '31 ♪ ♪ conditions filled him with alarm back in '31 ♪ ♪ just broken down farmland everywhere ♪ ♪ and farmer mac doesn't want to go back to the days where there wasn't a moo or quack ♪ ♪ to the days of 1931 when he didn't have bread ♪ ♪ former mac knows what to do ♪ going to go out with everyone in the usa ♪ ♪ to vote for adlai stevenson ♪ to keep his farm this way ♪ with a vote vote here and a vote vote there and a vote for stevenson everywhere ♪ ♪ it's good for you and it's good for me ♪ ♪ all america loves that farm ♪ vote stevenson today >> and if you should elect me
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your president next november, i shall be the better for having done it, i'm sure. because i know that the strength and the wisdom that i need must be drawn from you, the people. so finally i hope that the next time we meet, it will be person to person and face to face. >> i'm adlai stevenson. you and i have been hearing from our republican friends that things are so good, they couldn't be better. better for who, i wonder? do you think that things can't be better for the small business man, like this one? small business profits are down 52%. that they can't be better for our farmers, like these? farm income is down 25%. are your schools good enough for the richest nation in history? your schools like this need a
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third of a million more classrooms. what about you? are you now out of debt? do you have a comfortable backlog in the bank? are you paying less for the things that you buy or more? do you really think things can't be better? of course they can. working together, we can and will make them better. >> vote democratic. >> rising cost of farming, lower income. caught in a squeeze? then vote democratic, the party for you, not just a few. vote for adlai stevenson for president. >> and we can back live at the stevenson farm in libertyville illinois. we're joined by newton minow. if you've ever heard the phrase,
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tv is a vast waste land, that was newton minow's phrase. but for our purposes tonight, he worked with and was an associate of adlai stevenson for many years. newton minow, if you could start by telling us, when did you first meet governor stevenson. >> i was a law clerk at united states supreme court for chief justice vincent. and one of our law professors came to visit one day. he later offered my clerk a job as his assistant in springfield, assistant counsel to the governor. turned out that howard wasn't interested, but i was. and i ended up interesting entered by governor stevenson at 7:00 a.m. for breakfast in the spring of 1952. and he said to me, if i hire
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you, young man, is there any reason why you wouldn't take the job? and i said, if my current boss, chief justice vincent runs for president, if he asked me to stay with him, i would like to do that. and governor stevenson looked at me and said i don't think that's very likely. i then drove him to his next appointment. i went to work at the supreme court. i picked up the "new york times." it said, truman offers stevenson the presidential nomination, semicolon, vincent out. well, i was hired and i reported for work and he was then nominated as president. >> what was he known for as
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governor? >> he was known as being, first of all, totally honest, which was not necessarily a prerequisite for election in illinois. but he was a different kind of candidate. he was honest. he was an intellectual. he was -- he cared deeply about good government and he brought a whole different culture and tone to the office of governor. >> richard norton smith, the u.s. in 1952, set the stage for us. >> politically, there's no doubt. one of the reasons -- and you would know much, much better than i, that entered into his hesitation at least about seeking the presidency was the sense that the democrats had been in power for 20 years and even the most partisan democrat who thought they had been 20 glorious years thought perhaps the party and the country would be well served by a change.
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but the great issue was, which republican party would replace harry truman if harry truman were to leave? would it be the isolationist, conservative, midwestern party of bob taft or would it be the internationalist, if you will, modern republicanism, of dwight eisenhower? and stevenson had to, among other things, weigh and calculate the chances of which party he might be running against. he was very reluctant to run, wasn't he? >> he did not want to run. and of course, who could have beat dwight eisenhower? it was like running against jesus christ. it was an impossible thing to win. if it had been robert taft as the opponent, i think adlai would have relished running
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because there would have been a clear difference in philosophy about america's place in the world. but you got to remember the democrats tried to draft general eisenhower. the democrats tried to get eisenhower to run as a democrat. eisenhower was a candidate of both parties. >> newton minow, when adlai stevenson gave the welcoming address at the democratic national convention in chicago in 1952, was he a nationally known figure at the time? was he considered a candidate? >> he was not that well known. i remember the first time he appeared on national television was that spring, he was on "meet the press", it was the first time he was ever on national television. and adlai stevenson was never any good on television. if you were with him, he was a lot of fun. he had a great personality.
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and you always went away feeling better about yourself. but when you watched him on television, he was either nervous, but he was never himself, but the country didn't know him. >> so he gives the welcoming address and he essentially gets drafted, wins on the second or third ballot, is that correct? >> that's right. and it was really unfortunate for him because the timing was wrong. if he had run for president against dwight eisenhower, he probably could have won. >> remember, just how different the democratic party was in 1952. who does he pick for a running mate? john sparkman, senator from alabama. it's still the solid south. in fact he has to worry about keeping the solid south solid. >> exactly. and it taught me a lesson also about how we pick vice presidents. john sparkman was picked at the
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last minute. >> did he have a relationship with john sparkman? >> not really. the way we do things in this country, it's amazed we've stayed so successful for a couple hundred years. >> did he wakefauver want to be the ticket? >> adlai did not like kefauver at all -- of tennessee -- who ended up being the vice presidential candidate in '56. >> who harry truman liked to call cal fever. >> truman, who today is regarded as a dear, great president, someone that we all look up to for his divisiveness, for his
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ability to make big decisions and to commit the united states in the cold war, but the fact is at the time he was a very unpopular president. the korean war was an unpopular war. he had fired douglas mcarthur, which, again, today basically there's a consensus he did the right thing for the right reason, but at great political cost. harry truman had been in power seven years. and he had decided seven years was enough. he had the power to prevent kefauver from becoming the nominee. he probably had the power prevent adlai stevenson from becoming the nominee. but in some way the deadweight of the truman administration. truman and stevenson's relationship never quite recovered from that fact. >> i think it was worse than
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that. you got -- there was another factor. there have been a lot of corruption in the democratic party. there had been a scandal with one of president truman's assistants and there had been -- it was not a happy thing to become the democratic candidate for president in 1952. >> especially if you had harry truman's imper matter on you. >> as i left the supreme court to work for stevenson, i went to see the chief justice to say good-bye and he was very, very close to president truman. and the chief said to me, your guy is not going to make it. and i said, what? he said, no, i was with the president last night and he told me that he's lost patience with adlai. he doesn't say yes, he doesn't say no. it's going to be barkley, alvin
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barkley. alvin barkley was then the vice president of the united states. >> age 74. >> right. >> and they tried -- they actually tried to get it for barkley, but everybody said, he's too old. that opened it up again and then stevenson was drafted. >> and we are live for libertyville, illinois, the stevenson family farm 40 miles outside of chicago. the phone numbers are on the screen. 202-737-0001 for those of you in the east and central time zones. 202-737-0002 for the mountain and pacific time zones. adlai stevenson won 27 million votes. he got 89 electoral votes and he won nine states.
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dwight david eisenhower, 442 electoral votes. he won 34 million votes and he won the rest of the states which would have been 40-some at that point. >> one thing to keep in mind about that election, is to compare it with 1948 in losing governor stevenson got 3 million more votes than harry truman had in winning three years earlier. dwight eisenhower got 12 million more votes than tom dewey. what you had was the largest increase in voter participation in four years since the 1820s. >> why? >> because you had two outstanding candidates, each in their own way, who were able to excite the electorate in a way that i don't think we'd seen in this country in sometime. >> here's a little bit more of adlai stevenson at the 1952
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convention. >> what does concern me of both parties is not just winning this election, but how it is won. how well we can take advantage of this great opportunity to debate issues sensibly and soberly. i hope and pray that we democrats win or lose can campaign not as a crusade to exterminate the opposing party, as our opponents seem to prefer, but as a great opportunity to educate and elevate a people who's destiny is leadership. let's talk sense to the american people. let's tell them the truth, that there are no gains without pain. that we are now on the eve of great decisions. >> newton minow, where were you
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59 years ago? >> i was in the governor's mansion, and i think one thing that really taught the american people about governor stevenson was the way he conceded defeat. he was the most graceful, patriotic talk. he pledged to support the newly elected president eisenhower and give him every support and he ended with a story that he remembered from abraham lincoln used to tell. it was a story about a little boy who stubbed his toe in the dark and he said -- >> it hurts -- >> it hurts too much to laugh, but i'm not old enough to cry -- too old to cry. with that i think people saw his character, that he was a patriot who loved his country and was
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willing to support a new president despite the fact that he -- >> lost. >> let's take some calls, the first call we have up tonight is paul in davenport, iowa. paul, adlai stevenson is our contender tonight. please go ahead. >> caller: hello. i want to first thank c-span for doing this. this is a great series. my question is this, i have recently finished reading a book that a negative view is put forward of stevenson's campaign for president. he claims he spent too much time attacking the vice president rather than the vice president and said it was kind of a blemish on a very stellar career. my question to you is this, do you think that the campaign was a low point of stevenson's political career? did he spend too much time attacking nixon? and in 1956 what could he have
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focused on besides vice president nixon to make the election closer? should he have focused on farm issues more or war and peace issues? thank you very much. >> thank you, paul. thank you, paul. let's start with newton minow. 1956 campaign. >> 1956 campaign in my opinion was not as stellar as it was as the 1952 campaign. the reason for the emphasis on nixon in '56 was the fact that president eisenhower had suffered a bad heart attack. he had had some bad health problems. there was great concern in the country of what would happen if president eisenhower was re-elected but that he died during the second term and that nixon became president. so there was a very good reason to go after nixon because nixon would not, as it turned out, later, sadly, did not have the
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character to be the president. >> i would actually say that i think the '56 stylistically, i understand where you're coming from. but it's the campaign that laid the groundwork for the new frontier and the great society. and specifically, that's the campaign when adlai stevenson, against considerable odds embraced the idea of a nuclear test ban treaty. that's when a constitutional amendment was introduced where 18-year-olds could vote. '56 turns out to be a fountain head of ideas. but you are right. the last speech on election eve where he said that basically the medical evidence suggested a real possibility in the next four years that richard nixon would become president,
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remember, that's something that tom dewey hadn't done in '44 under somewhat similar circumstances when fdr's health -- you didn't go there. and i think in some ways he paid a price for that. >> you're right. the nuclear test ban which was very unpopular point of view to take in 1956, but he took it very courageously because he believed in it deeply and i remember he said -- someone asked what the weapons would be in world war iv? and he said, they would be sticks and stones. he made his point. >> newton minow, between 1952 and 1956, was adlai stevenson angling to get the nomination again? >> i would have to answer that with a yes and a no. i think he -- one hoped that he
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might someday be president. but he knew if he ran against president eisenhower again, that the odds were very much against him. i was one of the few people around him who urged him not to run in 1956. but he felt an obligation to the democratic party. >> here's a little bit of adlai stevenson at the 1956 convention also held in chicago. >> i come here on a solemn mission. i accept your nomination and your program. [ cheers and applause ] and i pledge to you every resource of mine and strength that i possess to make your deed today a good one for our country and for our party. [ cheers and applause ]
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>> four years ago i stood in this same place and uttered those same words to you. but four years ago, i did not seek the honor that you bestowed upon me. this time, as you may have noticed, it was not entirely unsolicited. [ laughter ] [ cheers and applause ] >> and there's another big difference. that time we lost. this time we will win. [ cheers and applause ] >> newton minow, you started laughing while you were listening to that video. >> when he said it was unsolicited reminded me, in 1955
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governor stevenson gave a speech at the university of texas and i was asked to go with him. and it was right after president eisenhower had suffered his heart attack. lyndon johnson, the majority leader of the senate, had also suffered a heart attack. and we were to spend the night at lyndon's ranch. we drove in the car with the speaker of the house, got there late, mrs. johnson was very upset because the doctor had told her that lyndon should be sleeping and here he waited up until very late in the night, 2:00 in the morning for us. and on the way home, just the two of us were traveling. adlai said to me, sam and lyndon say that if i want the nomination next year, i'll have
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to run in the primaries. i said, they're right. i said if president eisenhower because of his health doesn't run, every democrat is going to want the nomination and you'll have to fight for it. if president eisenhower does run, you ought to forget about it. he said, well, he said, i'm not going to run those primaries. i'm not going to be a candidate like i'm running for sheriff, running around the shopping centers shaking hands. i'm not going to do it. of course, he ended up doing it because that's the way the system operated. and he eventually won the nomination after winning a couple of the primaries. >> joe in los angeles, we're talking about adlai stevenson tonight on "the contenders," go ahead with your question or comment. >> caller: i want to jump ahead to the 1960s and what you thought stevenson's relationship with the kennedys was and i know he ran for president -- or nominated in the nomination
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convention in '60 and because of that, there was ill feelings with jack kennedy and he wasn't made secretary of state. what would have happened if adlai had been made secretary of state and would the situation in vietnam have been different? thank you. >> let's start with richard norton smith. help us to set the stage here. >> that's a very wide subject. i know we have some material for later and i know we're going to talk about this with senator stevenson on who was there. it was true there was not a warm relationship between the kennedys and governor stevenson. in 1956 stevenson had done something no one else had done. he had thrown the nomination for the vice presidency open. he let the convention decide. and jackson kennedy came within an eyebrow of winning that nomination. and in the end, kefauver -- probably to stevenson's
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regret -- managed to eke out a victory. ironically, kennedy said it was the best thing that ever happened to him. it introduced him to the country, paved the way for his campaign in 1960. it is also safe to say -- and i would defer to newt on this, that the way in which governor stevenson flirted with a draft in 1960 and held back. one of the distinguished visitors who came to this house one day was jack kennedy who very much wanted adlai stevenson's endorsement, who didn't get it, who did not go away, i think, with his admiration of the governor enhanced. and if he was ever going to be secretary of state, i think that probability probably went down the drain right then. >> we will talk a little bit later about the kennedy relationship and his years as u.n. ambassador. but the results in 1956, adlai
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stevenson, 173 electoral votes. he won seven states in 1956. he won nine in 1952. about 1 million less than he got four years earlier. dwight eisenhower, 457 electoral votes. he won 41 states which was the last election where there were only 48 states in the nation. and dwight eisenhower won about 35 million votes, about a million more than he had one four years previous. our next call, akron, ohio, curt, you're on "the contenders," hi. >> caller: thank you. this is a great honor to be watching this type of program. i have a comment and a question, really. richard norton smith, first of all, stole my thunder about the 1956 convention and jack kennedy. but one of my favorite comments about stevenson was something that harry truman had said about
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adlai stevenson, that he spent more time thinking about what he was going to do rather than doing it. and he said that he spent a lot more time talking to college presidents than he did to cab drivers and we have one hell of a lot more cab drivers in this country than college presidents. anyway, 1956, richard norton smith made comment to adlai stevenson doing something unprecedented which is opening the convention to picking a vice presidential nominee. jack kennedy being one of them and estes kefauver being the other one. but very few people really know, unless they really study this, there were two other candidates. my question then is, seeing has how jack kennedy was out of it and estes kefauver became the nominee for vice president, would that ticket have been a little bit better had it have
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been al gore sr. or hubert humphrey versus estes kefauver and also -- well, i guess -- >> let's leave it there, curt. that's a lot of question and we're going to let newton minow, who is actively involved in the 1956 adlai stevenson campaign answer it. mr. minow? >> certainly senator kefauver didn't help. i don't know who would have helped given the fact that, again, president eisenhower was at the top of the ticket. but i think what richard said about kennedy was exactly correct. the opportunity to be at the convention and be seen as a vice presidential possibility introduced jack kennedy to the country. and i remember a few years later, i saw him at a dinner and i said, you know, we called him jack then. i said, jack, you're still
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interested, you can get the nomination for vice president next time. he looked at me and said, vice president? vice president? he said, i'm going to run for president. he was only 39 years old. but he had made up his mind. >> can i ask you, the caller raises a point that i'm sure governor stevenson heard many times, this notion that he talked over the heads of people. what was his reaction to that? what's your reaction to that? >> i think he didn't talk over the heads of the people. they used to call him an egghead and they called his followers eggheads and he was to make fun of that. eggheads of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your yolks. i think he reached people. he had a great sense of humor. i was with him in san francisco and a woman came up to him after
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the speech and said, governor stevenson, after that speech, every thinking american is going to vote for you. and he said, well, thank you, madam. unfortunately, i need a majority. so he knew what the situation was. >> next call for our guest comes from nashville, tennessee. hi, martin, you're on "the contenders." >> caller: thank you. it's a great show. i was going to touch on the intellectual thing because my father was an academic and i grew up in washington, d.c., as a child of the '60s and i remember my father talking about what a brilliant man he was and what an intellectual and how great that was for the country and, of course, he never won. but the reason i'm calling, i was struck by the 1952 electoral map. and i notice that it seems like the starkman strategy won since he got all of the southern states. but strangely enough, he didn't get tennessee and his own state, illinois. what you make of that? that reminds me of al gore in
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2000. >> richard norton smith? >> yeah, i think, again, newt would know better. i think it certainly pained him that in neither of those presidential elections he won illinois. remember, he had been elected govern of illinois in 1948 by the largest margin of the history of the state. they elected this new deal liberal democrat and it was not surprising that -- i assume he thought he counted on winning it in '52. >> he did. and if he -- for example, if he had run for governor in 1952 -- >> for a second term -- >> even with president eisenhower running on the republican -- he would have won the governorship again by a larger margin than he won in 8 '48. >> newton minow, we talk about taxes, spending, social security, as some of the presidential issues that we look
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at during campaigns. 1952, 1956, what were two or three of the main issues that were talking about on this campaign and that adlai stevenson stressed? >> '52 the big issue helped president eisenhower enormously was korea. we were bogged down in a war there. president eisenhower said, i have a plan. i will go to korea. the country thought that meant, well, he'll end the war in korea, which he did. that was important. the other big issues were really the same issues we got today. we haven't solved the same issues that divided the country back in the '50s. the role of education, the economy was better than than it is now. i think there was less unemployment. but the -- i think this country is equally divided. if you look at the last ten
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presidential elections with the single exception i think of johnson and gold water in 1964, with that exception, they've all been decided by the country is basically equally divided. >> in 1956, here is a little bit of adlai stevenson talking about the democratic platform. >> we are on the threshold of another great era. it has brought us, i devoutly believe, to the threshold of a new america, the america of the great ideals and noble visions. i mean a new america where poverty is abolished and our abundance is used to enrich the lives of everyone. i mean, my friends, a new america where freedom is made real for all without regard to race or belief or economic condition. [ applause ]
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>> i mean a new america which freedom is made real for all without regard to race or economic condition. [ applause ] >> i mean a new america which everlastingly attacks the ancient idea that men can solve their differences by killing each other. [ applause ] >> these are the things i believe in. these are the things i will work for with every resource i possess. >> and we are live in libertyville, illinois at the adlai stevenson farm. boston, you're on the air.
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go ahead, dick. >> caller: hi, how are you? hello? >> we're listening. please give a question or comment. >> caller: i was very young during the era of president kennedy and adlai stevenson, and i want to share with you an emotional thing that i will probably take to my grave. in 1960, a couple of weeks before his assassination, meaning kennedy, adlai stevenson went to texas where he was in a convention mood, probably the wrong convictions, because they threw oranges to him from the balcony. and he called president kennedy and told him not to come to texas. at least get a bulletproof car, which he didn't do. on the other side of the equation, i believe president kennedy and his brother just
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had, from football days had a little too much ego, and if adlai stevenson knew that, then he would probably have treated his demeanor coming down to jack's demeanor, and i think there would have been more listening to save his life. >> we're going to get an answer from both our guests because they both started nodding their heads. richard norton smith. >> i think it was a united nations day in dallas that he spoke to and afterward was struck by protesters with signs. i think he was actually spat upon at a classic stevenson rejoinder after they said, are you going to prosecute these people? he said, i don't want to prosecute them, i want to educate them. >> newton minow? >> i think he was very aware of the dangers, but i don't think you could go so far as the questioner did about him.
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i think president kennedy had made that commitment and he wanted to keep it. i do remember talking about the relationship of adlai and president kennedy. during the '60 campaign, norman vincent peele, a leading protestant clergyman, had organized a group of other clergymen, and they said that jack kennedy was unqualified to be president because of his religion. and adlai was asked about it. and he compared peele to st. paul, and he said, i find st. paul appealing, and norman vincent peele appalling. and he could always make a joke or good humor out of it.
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politics today has no humor. with the exception of bob dole, i don't see any politician today, either party, who has really got a great sense of humor. >> do you think in some way it worked against stevenson? some people thought he wasn't a serious person because he always had these wonderful quips? >> well, and his answer to that was abraham lincoln went around telling stories all the time. i don't think it hurt him, i think people liked to have someone who has a sense of humor. >> next call on adlai stevenson here on c-span's "contenders." poughkeepsie, new york. nick, good evening. >> caller: hi. i'd like to know when stevenson was a child, what was -- like, was his incident where he accidentally shot his friend, how did that influence his presidential campaign in the future? >> newton minow, did he ever
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talk to you about that? could you give us a brief history of what the caller is referring to. >> there was a tragic accident in childhood when there was a loose gun in the family, and adlai accidentally shot and killed another child. i never heard him say a word about it, i never saw any evidence that it affected him, but i'm not -- who knows. >> he was 12 years old at the time, but one did get the sense that the family kind of moved on, that it was not something that they dwelled on. i think years later, he was surprised -- he expressed astonishment that his wife knew about the incident, which suggests he really kept it very close to his vest. >> who was his wife? >> well, his wife was a woman who came from a very fine upper class family.
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she was not very interested in politics. in fact, disliked politics. and when adlai went into politics, i don't think she was very happy about it, and sadly, they came to a parting of the ways. >> and that was in 1949 after he had run for governor. >> he had been elected before the divorce. >> right. and then divorced. did that hurt him in the 1952 and 1956 presidential campaigns, being a divorced man? >> it's curious, i was talking about this with my wife. years ago people thought a divorced man could never be elected president. now president reagan was divorced. today we have public officials living without marriage with someone else. nobody raises a fuss about it. i think there's been a vast cultural change here. >> is that one more instance of
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stevenson being ahead of his time? >> could be. we are live from libertyville, illinois. about 10, 20 miles from where we are is north brook, illinois. theodore is on the line. please go ahead with your question or comment. >> caller: hello, i appreciate the program very much. i am a senior in a nearby senior retirement community, and participating in a writer memoir group in which we've been asked to write what good thing from the '50s should be carried into the 21st century. i happen to have been present at his 1952 election where he voted in vernon township, in a little township building next to a congregational church, and i chose that as the icon. my question is, what significance do you place to
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that icon of the whole in hole in adlai's shoe, and how would you summarize what good thing from adlai stevenson could be brought into the 21st century in our own time? >> let's start with richard norton smith. >> i'm just -- again, stevenson, whenever you think of his politics, stevenson was a man who flattered our intelligence, he spoke up to us. he didn't speak down to us. he is, arguably, the last national politician, i think you could actually say this of barry goldwater, who believed that a presidential campaign was, first and foremost, an educational exercise. >> what do you mean by that, richard? >> he literally believed -- for example, his idea of television, he was forever running out of time. you know, they would cut him off in the middle of a speech. he couldn't believe that people
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wouldn't take a sufficient amount of time to educate themselves, to listen to thoughtful, sober, substantiative issue-oriented appeals from candidates on both sides. that's how he approached running for office. that's how he approached governing illinois. >> he once -- i've heard him say more than once that a campaign was an educational exercise not only for the public, but also for the candidate. that it was an opportunity for the candidate to educate himself or herself about the country and about the people. and he believed that. i also heard him say something i don't hear any politician say today, there are worse things that can happen to someone than losing an election. >> richard norton smith, what is a stevensonian? >> oh, a stevensonian is an
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egghead, probably entertaining a certain nostalgia for a level of political discourse, of civility, urbanity, a whit, self deprecatory, someone who has very little patience with the political claptrap that handlers and spin doctors have foisted upon us. i cannot imagine adlai stevenson being handled by any such individuals. >> it would never happen. i once was a member of an american delegation to a conference in japan. in our delegation was don rumsfeld who then was a member of congress. and we were having dinner, and i said why did you go into
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politics? and he said, it was all because of a speech given to my graduating class at princeton. i said were you in the class of 1954? he looked at me, how do you know that? i said i know the speech, it was the best speech adlai stevenson ever gave in his life. it was a speech about why everyone should devote some of their life to public service. don stood up and gave me a paragraph by memory, verbatim of the speech. he then pulled out his wallet and he took out a torn, tattered copy of the speech he carries around in his wallet. i said that's why you went into politics? he said that's why i went into public service. and if you read his new book that he -- he starts off by quoting from that speech. so adlai, i'd say his biggest contribution was making politics respectable and honorable. jack kennedy used to say
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politics is an honorable profession. i think he got that from adlai stevenson. >> adlai and ella stephenson had three sons, adlai iii, borden, john fell. adlai iii was a marine in 1952, but here's a little bit of a newsreel. >> governor stevenson takes time out from his strenuous campaign to attend the graduation of his son, adlai iii from marine officer school at quantico. he presents his son with a sheaf of commissions for the entire platoon. it is a proud father and an equally proud son on an occasion important to both. >> and now live on your screen is senator adlai stevenson iii, he is in his father's study here on the stevenson farm in libertyville, illinois. senator stevenson, first of all, thank you for opening up this facility for us. secondly, what was your role in the '52 and '56 campaigns?
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>> '52 campaign, as your remarks indicate, i was in the marine corps, i didn't know it, but en route to korea, so i did not have a role in that campaign. we were involved in the '56 campaign and i was a driver in the '48 campaign, which was sort of the beginning of my introduction to politics. >> now, what role did korea play in your father's campaigning in 1952? what was his position on korea with you over there? >> well, as newt -- i think it was newt mentioned, korea became an issue, though i don't think it really was an issue, but it adversely affected my father's campaign. he was advised to say if elected president, i will go to korea.
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that's exactly what general eisenhower said. my father refused to do that because he felt that if he made that commitment to go there and settle the, you know, arrange a truce, that he'd be weakened. and, in fact, the eisenhower administration was weakened by this commitment of eisenhower to end the war. i don't think it -- my involvement didn't have any effect at all, but his integrity had an adverse effect on his campaign because of korea. >> adlai stevenson iii served in the u.s. senate from 1970 until 1981 for the state of illinois. he voluntarily stepped down in 1980. ran for governor twice for this state. senator stevenson, what made you enter the family business? >> well, i was just born with an incurable, hereditary case of
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politics, if by business you mean my career. we never really thought of it as a business. i'm, by the way, paraphrasing my father, because he was asked the same question. >> and, of course, the first adlai stevenson served as vice president. the second as secretary of state here for the state of illinois, then, of course, we had adlai stevenson the governor and now we are joined by senator stevenson, who is adlai iii. he is in his father's study in the home, in the stevenson family home here in libertyville. we are over in what used to be the barn, and it's right next door. it is now set up with an exhibit. senator stevenson, what is going on here, what is being set up where we are? >> yes, this home, which really became our base over the years as we served in washington, london, springfield, everywhere, is now the home of the adlai stevenson center on democracy where we try to bring people
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together from all parts of the world to address systemic weaknesses in democratic systems of government and continue the stevenson legacy. this was the home, but it really became a base from which we, my father ranged the world, not only to serve in springfield and so on, as i mentioned, but also to study the world. the travels, the study of the world from on the ground and within it were incessant. never stopped trying to learn about the world from within it. in the marketplaces and slums in the monuments and ruins, as well as the universities and ministries, trying to see the world from within it, and the united states from without it, and i think that lifetime of on the ground study of the world with a perspective from no ivory
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tower really helped to create the record and make him an electrifying figure, not only at home, but in the world. which ultimately led, of course, to president kennedy's appointment to him as the ambassador to the united nations. where he represented the united states effectively. >> we've got one hour left this evening in "the contenders." this is our ninth in our 14-week series. adlai stevenson is our focus. our guests, senator adlai stevenson iii, newton minow who worked for years with and for adlai stevenson, and was former federal communications commission chairman under jfk, and, of course, well-known author and historian richard norton smith. we're going to take this call from sally in chicago. hi, sally. >> caller: hi, let me correct something, i was born and raised
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in chicago, but i live in california. and i'm calling because i -- adlai stevenson's 1952 election was my first presidential -- in other words, when i was eligible to vote. so i went door to door and did whatever i could. i was crushed that he didn't win. but on retrospect, i thought he would contribute so much more on the world stage as a statesman. and, in a way, he did. but i will never forget how disappointed we were. one other thing, being a chicagoan, i worked at the "tribune" tower when the dewey-truman election results -- you never saw such panic in your
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life as was in the "chicago tribune." i will let you go and get your response on air. thank you. >> i think we could talk -- i think we could talk to sally all night, but senator stevenson, if we could start with you, you heard the emotion in her voice, could you talk about his campaign style a little bit? >> i'd like to amplify. i think richard and newt have done a very perceptive job, but getting back to '52, he was also reluctant to run for president because he had been elected governor of a state which we loved and were deeply indebted to, and it succeeded a corrupt republican administration.
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he reached out and he recruited the best qualified professionals that he could find. it wasn't pay to play in those days, it was sacrifice to serve. they were reforming state government, and he wanted to finish the job. newt and richard are right, he was also reluctant because eisenhower, the returning war hero, would be very hard to defeat, and i think secretly, not so secretly at home, he wasn't convinced that, perhaps, it was time for a change. now, remember, he started that '52 campaign. he was drafted. he started that campaign at the convention with absolutely no program, no money, no staff, and it went on to electrify the world. for him, and this is -- i may be repeating, but for him,
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democracy was not a device, not a system for acquiring power. it was a system for informing the people so that they could make a sound judgment. he said trust the people with the truth, all the truth. what wins is more important than who wins. so, in response to another suggestion, the '56 campaign was really more substantive because he'd had more time than the '52 campaign. but he used the campaigns and the interim as leader of the party -- we don't leaders of the party anymore, and advisory councils to lay what was called the programmatic foundations for the new frontier and the great society. i heard arthur schlesinger once call -- the late, great historian -- we always called jack, jack. john f. kennedy.
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the executor of the stevenson revolution. but those campaigns were aimed not only at the american people -- and they were substantive, he used half-hour blocks of time for eloquent, substantive speeches. they were also aimed at the world, and it listened. >> senator stevenson, you talked about the '52 and '56 campaigns. your father lost about a million or so votes between those and a couple more states. what did he not do as well in '56 or what do you think, did he make mistakes? >> i think -- first of all, eisenhower's enormously popular. remember, these were years of economic prosperity and growth. ike was popular, the war was getting -- i can't remember when exactly, but ended -- no, that would come later in korea. no, what happened -- one of the things that happened, i think eisenhower would have gotten reelected probably anyway, was the uprising in hungary and the invasion of suez by france,
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britain, and israel. these international crises rallied the country, as they always do, behind the president, and, you know, from then on, there just really wasn't much doubt about the outcome. >> richard norton smith? >> well, i just want to go back to the '52 campaign, and senator stevenson's point, which, of course, is absolutely accurate, that he started out with nothing. in fact, there was a debate over where to have a political headquarters, whether, you know, truman expected it to be in washington, well, no, it was in springfield. but the story is told, and you can tell me if it's true or not, the story is told that he didn't expect it to be publicized, which again is revealing, that one night very shortly after the convention, he came back to springfield and conscious of these crushing responsibilities that had just been handed to him, he left the executive mansion one night, by himself, without guard or entourage, and walked to the lincoln home on 8th street, walked to the door. knocked.
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recognized him, it was not then of course, the custodian recognized him, it was not then a national historic site, let him in, and he sat all by himself in the lincoln parlor for some period reflecting, meditating on a man who had confronted even greater responsibilities 100 years earlier.
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but the interesting thing about that story is not only that it happened, but that stevenson didn't publicize it. he didn't expect anyone to know about that story. is that accurate? >> it's true. in fact, he didn't -- none of us knew about it until later. years later, i said i read this, is this true, and he said yes. but he didn't talk about it. >> you have to understand, this story, the family's involvement goes back to jesse phil, five generations. i've tried to record it, american politics in history as we knew it in the black book. it begins with jessy fell who was lincoln's patron. lincoln was a constant presence in this family, right here is little evidence. lincoln was an inspiration. woodrow wilson, former president of princeton, my father was a graduate of princeton in 1922. wilson was an influence also. the enlightened internationalism of wilson heavily influenced my father, but lincoln, who might never have been president without jesse fell, the citizen who, among other things, proposed the lincoln/douglas debates. lincoln was an inspiration and
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forever a presence in this family. >> and our next call for our three guests talking about adlai stevenson comes from oak island, north carolina. jimmy, please, go ahead. >> caller: thanks for taking my call. i am a world war ii veteran, and, of course, it was part of the eisenhower army, but i didn't feel like, at the time -- i'm from north carolina, which you see was one of the blue states that voted for adlai both times, and we felt that adlai was a politician and more able to handle the political things
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and general eisenhower was more of a military person. and you would know times were good. i was wondering what do y'all think, how would the united states have changed in that eight years if adlai stevenson had been president rather than dwight eisenhower? >> senator stevenson, let's start with you. >> you know, dwight d. eisenhower has been quoted first by headley donovan of "time life" and recently by a member of his family, as saying that if he'd have known stevenson was to be the democratic candidate, he would not have run for president. i think on the large international issues there was probably not a great deal of difference between them. one thing my father really, you know, felt strongly about,
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richard nixon -- richard nixon was loathed by just about everybody in washington. his strength was at the grassroots, and, you know, after the checker speech and that incident and eisenhower's retention of nixon on the ticket, i think that, you know, caused some doubts in his mind about eisenhower. he respected eisenhower and my father was such a figure in the world that john foster dulles, perhaps reluctantly made him a roving official ambassador of the eisenhower administration, so that in his travels throughout the world he could officially represent the united states. if there had been a difference and the real differences then, i think, were between the democrat and the eisenhower wing of the republican party with the taft wing. eisenhower's problems were with taft. and the conservative wing of the republican party. if my father had been a
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president you would probably have the new frontier, federal aid to education and other such programs might have taken effect earlier. as it was, much of it didn't take effect until after the assassination of kennedy when johnson very shrewdly, i remember him consulting my father, he said, what do i do now? you adlai should be in these shoes, but you're not. so what's your advice? my father said, i guess you take some time now and put your program and administration together and he said, no, this is my moment. within a hundred days the program was all through congress. you know, he knew timing. he was a real politician.
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but that program had been developing over, you know, since the '52 campaign and might have been accelerated, you know, had my father won in '52 or '56. >> newton minow? >> i think adlai got it exactly right. i would add one thing, because adlai was so committed to getting rid of nuclear war i think we might have had faster progress than actually occurred later in dealing with the russians and in dealing with nuclear disarmament, i think that was such a passionate belief that i think he would have given much more attention and persuasion to it than what occurred and i think, also, that the -- we would have had more friends throughout the world than we ended up with at that time. >> richard?
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>> you know, it's interesting. it's hard to imagine -- of course, that's what we're doing is imagining. but it's hard to imagine president stevenson sending that u2 plane in may of 1960 on the eve of a great summit. one quick thing, i do think they had real respect for each other, i think also had as most political adversaries learned to discover the weaknesses of one another. i suspect eisenhower, over time, grew rather resentful of the implication that stevenson was the only word smith, the only great eloquent persuader in american politics. he once said if words were all that mattered, the american people could vote for ernest hemingway for presidency. which i think was a veiled criticism of stevenson. our next call comes from portland, oregon. hi, joe.
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>> caller: howdy, and thanks for taking my call. in '52, i was in a high school kid living in a republican household. in '56, i spent the summer as an intern, i remember well in '56, there was a disappointment at the convention because there wasn't really a contest as there had been in '52. can you elaborate on how the decision was made to throw it open to the convention, whether it was really just so everybody could have a good time or was it at least in part to dodge the animosity of all of the candidates who didn't get it? >> newton minnow if you can start. and then, senator stevenson, we want to hear about your role. >> i think adlai felt that he had seen firsthand how the vice president was picked in '52. it was so casually done.
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he realized it needed much more attention. he also was under a lot of pressure -- he was fond of hubert humphrey. he didn't like keith olber, even though he had been in the primaries. he thought jack kennedy was very promising but was too young and too inexperienced. and so, he decided -- also decided it would give a lot of excitement to the convention, which had been pretty much prearranged as to his own nomination. so, he decided to open it up and i think it turned out to be as he predicted. it turned out to be an exciting contest and it introduced jack kennedy to the country. so, there was a lot of good things with it. >> newt has it right. the outcome of the presidential
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balloting was a foregone conclusion. so to create some excitement and interest, he decided to throw open the balloting for vice president. and quietly, we were all rooting for john f. kennedy, though we had a great deal -- my father adored hubert humphrey and senior senator al gore, were great public servants. but i remember at the convention when the balloting was seesawing for vice president and kenny was ahead, running downstairs to kennedy's suite, where sergeant shriver's brother-in-law was guarding the door, running in, jack kennedy was pulling up his trousers, shook his hand and congratulated him. by the time i got back up to my father's suite, i saw him lose. we all of us were rooting for jack kennedy. but newt is absolutely right, this brought kennedy to the
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nation's attention and also spared him involvement in a failed campaign for president and vice president. >> let's move four years ahead to the 1960 democratic convention in los angeles. senator stevenson, how would you describe the relationship between your father and jack kennedy in 1960? >> well, i think -- i think the relationship between my father and jack kennedy was close. i know my father respected kennedy and i believe it was mutual. but there was, and newt was closer, really, a circle -- a very protective circle around john f. kennedy, which was also fearful and resentful and in this case concerned that stevenson was a threat.
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people were pouring in from across the country. literally hammering on the doors and in some cases knocking down the doors of that convention to demand another nomination for their candidate. eleanor roosevelt was there. and jim mccarthy gave a brilliant nominating address for stevenson and this caused a little anxiety in the kennedy camp and it probably caused a little interest or thought on my father's part, maybe if things deadlocked, he could still win the nomination. he had felt that if the leader of the party and out of loyalty to eleanor roosevelt and other supporters that he should be neutral and he was neutral. if he had a chance neutrality was the best way to get there. the former secretary of labor, also involved in state administration told me -- he was in my father's suite on the eve of the balloting and my father said, when bobby kennedy calls, tell him i've gone to bed and
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left instructions not to be woken. sure enough bobby kennedy called. he said, tell him this is his last chance and he better talk to me or he won't be secretary of state. and he responded, i'm sorry he's instructed me to tell you that he has gone to bed. so, that was the end of any chances for secretary of state. but it signifies something about the relationship -- not with jack kennedy, but this very, very protective circle around jack kennedy. it would come back to create other problems, like during the cuban missile crisis, when my father was vilified. we'll get to that in just a minute, but we're going to play two pieces of video here, we'll
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start at the 1960 convention. adlai stevenson at the podium. here it is. >> i won't attempt to tell you how grateful i am. for this moving welcome. the 1960 democratic convention. i have, however, an observation, after getting in and out of the biltmore hotel, in this hall, i decided i know who you will nominate. it will be the last survivor. >> details of my participation have not been worked out, but i told senator kennedy i would gladly campaign where he wanted me to and i suspect that will be in the north and the east and possibly in between.
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>> do you think you can persuade all the stevenson followers to vote for senator kennedy? >> i hope so. >> what will you do about it? how will you go about it? >> i hope by the participation in the company i haven't had much down that they would support the ticket. and i hope they'll support it vigorously in the same manner that i do. >> i hope they'll follow you as vigorously as they did in los angeles, governor. >> i hope they'll follow you as vigorously as they followed me in los angeles. >> that's my goal. >> we saw a little bit from the convention and then we saw a little bit at the press conference after jfk got the nomination. minow? >> i had the most extraordinary
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experience i had involving both adlai stevenson and jack kennedy was on may 29th, 1960, it was jack kennedy's birthday, it was the day after the last primary in oregon. and jack kennedy was flying from oregon to hyannis for a family birthday party, and bill blair, our law partner, had suggested that he stop in chicago and bill and i would pick him up and drive him here to the farm and he would have lunch with adlai and we were hoping, because bill and i had both concluded that it was impossible for adlai to be nominated again, we were hoping that they would come to some terms and adlai would support kennedy. so we got in the car, we drove out here. in the course of it, bill was driving, jack was in the front seat, i was in the backseat, jack kennedy said, do you think i should talk to him about secretary of state?
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and bill was smarter than i am, he didn't say anything. there was silence. i couldn't stand the silence. i said i wouldn't do that if i were you. and he looked at me and he said, why? i said, adlai would be offended. and second, you ought to decide yourself who you want if you're elected. came out here, adlai and nancy were -- adlai iii and nancy were -- they managed to get the two of them alone into adlai's study. and the minute they came out i had seen it hadn't gone well and we're getting back in the car to go back. and i was dying of curiosity, i said, jack, did you say something about secretary of state? he looked at me with those steely eyes and he said, you told me not to. i thought, what have i done? soon as i got home, i called adlai and told him the entire
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thing from beginning to end. he said, you did the right thing. he said, i would have been very offended. beside he should decide who he wants. i decided i better tell the kennedys. i called hyannis, jack hadn't arrived yet. i told bob exactly what i told adlai. i felt i had a clean conscience. i had not screwed it up. >> can i ask you a question, we saw the clip from the '60 convention, that joke stevenson made from the podium in a moment of maximum suspense. theodore wright wrote describing that scene, it was stevenson's moment and he threw it away, that he was in a position with the right remarks to have taken that convention away. is that unrealistic? was that convention jack
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kennedy's no matter what happened? or can you see if -- can you see a scenario in which stevenson at the peak of his form might have in fact, have set something on fire? >> i think he knew it wasn't going to happen. he talked to richard j. daley, who told him the illinois delegates were going to vote for kennedy. he knew -- i think he knew at that point -- we'll see what adlai says, if he agrees with me. one other thing, adlai, i have always thought that gene mccarthy's speech was insincere, i felt he was working for lyndon johnson, because he had never been that close to governor stevenson and i just finished reading jackie kennedy's tapes, and she said jack kennedy said the same thing. so there's two people who thought that gene mccarthy was making that -- >> let's let senator stevenson
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get in here. go ahead. >> i don't think i want to attribute that motive to gene mccarthy. the gossip, which i hate to repeat, at the time was gene was just jealous of jack because it was that catholic instead of this catholic getting the nomination. i think that's unworthy of gene mccarthy. number one, newt minow's advice was absolutely right. my father would have resented it. i don't think there was a chance at that convention of his winning the nomination. he had encouraged everybody to go out and support the candidates of their choice including richard j. daley of illinois. the illinois delegation was pledged to john f. kennedy. you make a pledge you don't break it. the nomination was sewed up. yet there was a lot of tension and a lot of fear and a lot of dynamism in the works. after the convention, my father
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campaigned strenuously all over the country for john f. kennedy and bobby kennedy's first stop on the campaign trail was right here. at the home where we had a great rally out on the lawn for bobby kennedy. >> now, newton minow referred to jackie kennedy's new book put out by carolyn kennedy called" historic conversations on life with jfk". were some audiotapes attached to that, and she talked -- >> shortly after the assassination. >> correct, and they were just released. here's jackie kennedy talking about adlai stevenson and john f. kennedy. >> and the big thing with governor stevenson wanting to stay, telling him he would have to have the u.n., i remember jack telling me about that. >> how did that -- did that give
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him a lot of difficulty? or was he amused by it all? >> you know, it was unpleasant. i mean, he didn't like it having to do it or anything but he wasn't going to give him the state department. i remember the earliest times we spoke of it, you knew that governor stevenson would get the u.n. not state, which he wanted. but it's sort of unpleasant to have to tell someone that. i remember their conference on the doorstep was rather vague where stevenson said he didn't have anything to say. something funny. >> why do you suppose he decided against stevenson for state? >> stevenson had never lifted one finger to help him. but yet it wasn't just bitterness or that. because look at all the people jack took who had been against him. he thought that man had a real disease of being unable to make up his mind. and stevenson irritated him. i don't think he could have borne to have him around coming in every day as secretary of
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state. it would have been an awfully difficult relationship. >> senator stevenson, could we get your reaction. >> well, unfortunately, i really couldn't hear it. i knew jackie kennedy and i can tell you that i don't think she was political at all. in fact, she was a very artistic woman, intellectual, who used to leave washington on weekends, which were sometimes spent at bobby's home playing football, she wasn't athletic, she would go to new york to the theater with my father. from all i could see they had a very good relationship and he gave her, you know, kind of an escape from washington.
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i've heard about these -- i've heard these comments not just these, but all of her comments that they are critical of just about everybody. so i don't know what to -- you know, kind of credibility to place on that. but from what i could see, her relationship with my father was very good and, in some ways, closer than to some of the kennedys maybe. >> newton minow, a short comment. could you hear the audio tape of jackie kennedy? >> yeah. i think -- i was with adlai and jackie not often but several times. i think they had a very, very good relationship. >> what about jfk and adlai stevenson?
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>> jfk and adlai -- i had a very important experience about that. i had a very minor role in the cuban missile crisis, but i was involved a little bit. and when it was over, there was an article in the saturday evening post, written by stewart olsup and charlie bartlett, and in it there were some critical comments, not attributed to any single person about what adlai had proposed, which was actually what the united states did. it was -- we closed our missile headquarters in turkey and greece in exchange for the bargain that was reached about cuba. but, it was critical and i knew that adlai was upset by it and early in the morning one day, president kennedy called me at home and he said, will you tell your leader -- he always would refer, when he talked to me about adlai, tell your leader that i did not leak that story. there's a rumor around that i'm
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the one who leaked it. tell him, i did not leak it. i called the governor and i had his number and i got him on the phone in five seconds, he picked up the phone in the embassy in new york, and he said i can't talk to you now i'm on the way to the "today" show to be interviewed. i said give me one second, the president just called me and told me to tell you he did not leak that story to the saturday evening post. the governor didn't say anything. 15 minutes later i turned on the "today" show and he gave jfk holy hell about the episode. and got it off his chest. later, jfk wrote him a letter apologizing, saying he didn't do it, but made it clear what adlai had contributed to the cuban missile crisis solution was indispensable. >> we have about 25 minutes left and our callers have been patient. bill, go a ahead with your
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question or comment about adlai stevenson. >> caller: can you elaborate on the influence of richard j. daley, of course, as you have referred to him as the mayor of chicago, the influence he had on stevenson's rise in illinois politics? >> senator stevenson, can we start with you, sir? >> it's the other way around. my father got richard j. daley started in politics. as i mentioned earlier, my father recruited these extraordinary professionals from and they came with, you know, without the endorsements of political leaders and campaign contributors. but there was one partial exception and that was richard j. daley who was state senator
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and maybe did have the endorsement of the cook county chairman. and he served with great distinguished in my father's cabinet as director of the department of revenue, he's really a first-rate cabinet officer. and then later, my father supported richard j. daley when he contested for mayor of chicago against an incumbent mayor of that city. this is incredible, the governor of the state siding with the challenger to the incumbent governor. so my father was -- had a lot to do with the rise of richard j. daley. it wasn't the other way around at all. >> washington, d.c., go ahead. dave. we're talking about adlai stevenson here on "the contenders." >> caller: hi, peter. >> hi, congressman. how are you, sir? >> caller: good. >> everyone know congressman obey, former congressman. >> caller: i just wanted to tell a story about adlai stevenson in madison, wisconsin in the '60
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campaign. i was a student at the university of wisconsin, and adlai had come to madison to give a speech to the civil war roundtable, and afterwards he was scheduled to appear with then governor gaylord nelson at the old park hotel. and we had a large crowd of democrats gathered. they were all over an hour late and the crowd was very restless. finally, the two walked in. gaylord ushered adlai stevenson up to the front of the room and gaylord grabbed the mic and said, folks, i'm sorry we're so late. there's a lot of questions at the civil war roundtable so he said i've got to get the governor over to the mansion and get him to bed. he's got a long day tomorrow, and then he said, i'll give one of my typically short speeches and add lay butted in and said i'll give up of my typically long ones and nelson said you do and i'll leave without you. and adlai says, go ahead. see who the crowd follows and the crowd erupted in laughter,
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and i think that just shows how quick adlai was on his feet and how clever he could be in making the audience feel good about it. he was -- he was my hero. >> congressman obey, a lot of talk about the fact that adlai stevenson was the architect of the later great society. would you agree with that? >> i think he certainly defined in the '56 campaign what most of the issues later became that the democratic party ran on and stood for for years. he really set the agenda for the coming decade in that campaign. >> that was congressman dave obey. we did not know he was going to call. longtime congressman from wisconsin. and democrat. thanks for calling in, sir. and watching. richard from seattle. hello. richard? from seattle.
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>> caller: i'm the author of a book about eleanor roosevelt and adlai stevenson just published last year, and i would like to just relay the anecdotes from the campaign trail that was a favorite of the campaign team and then give you a little comment from david lilianthal about adlai and the incident is about a club woman who came up to him after a speech and said, oh, mr. stevenson, your speech was positively superfluous to which he replied, thank you, madame, i've been thinking about having it published posthumously. to which she replied, that would be nice. the sooner the better. >> senator stevenson, i know you're in your dad's office over there, and there's a set of books of his speeches, and they were actually best-sellers, correct. >> yes. incidentally my own book is here, little black book, which i try to record american politics as we knew it over those five generations, including the humor which enriched our politics and could be used to really very good effect, too. you could, for example, use it to denigrate an opponent without being mean-spirited, but the memories, the experience i try
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to record over these five generations starting with lincoln and ending when china and epilogue on the life cycle of nations and empires is aimed to recall what we're doing tonight, the values that created this country and contrast them with those which i'm afraid are undermining it today. >> and we've talked a little bit about this, and richard norton smith, i want to get your reaction. the cuban missile crisis, adlai stevenson was u.s. ambassador to the united nations.
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>> yeah, but remember, of course, it didn't happen in a vacuum. a year earlier, you talk about the strained relationship with the white house. the kennedy administration in effect had put its ambassador in a humiliating position at the time of the bay of pigs, and so a year later, year and a half later in the fall of 1962 you have a situation in which we have irrefutable evidence that the soviets are in fact installing offensive nuclear missiles on castro's cuba, and what transpires, the great paradox. i cannot think of a less soundbite political figure than adlai stevenson and if you go on youtube today he's immortalized today by one of the great sound bites of the 20th century. >> we're going to listen to it right now. >> let me ask you one simple
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question. do you, ambassador zoran, deny that the ussr has placed and is placing immediate and intermediate range missiles and sites in cuba, yes or no? don't wait for the translation. yes or no. >> i should like to say -- >> mr. stevenson, would you continue your statement, please. you will receive the answer in due course, do not worry. >> i'm prepared to wait for my answer until hell freezes over if that's your decision. >> richard norton smith. >> until hell freezes over.
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one of the great soundbites of the 20th century and afterwards, one of the kennedys, maybe it was the president or bobby, i'm not sure who alleged was to have said, i didn't know adlai had it in him. >> that's true. candidates was made president, i don't know who had allegedly made it to say that he did know he had it in him. >> that's true. >> well you know, you mentioned the bay of pigs earlier. there was a great deal of misinformation which relate to the security council that came out, of course, that this information was false, and he felt very embarrassed. but it was the kennedy administration that was embarrassed. nobody doubted my father's integrity. and mutant alluded to the bay of pigs earlier, the biggest big's proposal by the kennedy administration was exactly what my father had proposed, namely, trading off obsolete bases in withdrawal of the missiles. but, the kennedy administration
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insisted on keeping the deal secret. my father didn't want to be secret, because he did not want to embarrass crew ship. he wanted to give him an opportunity to retreat, and that did not happen, and of course kruschev was embarrassed, just as my father feared. he fell, he was succeeded by a group from which emerged the rush sniff, and the hard-liners, and cold war escalated. because, the canadian administration had to be tough, instead of compromising and giving crew chauvin easy way out. >> one of the goals of the contenders is to figure out how the contenders changed their respective parties, how they changed american politics, and after we take this call, we're gonna move into that topic area. but, ohio, duncan please go ahead with your question on adlai stevenson. >> thank you, thanks for having me. i was just curious as to whether or not you've ever heard of an organization called
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the philippe birds, if adlai stevenson had been to one of the conferences before? >> thank you for your call. go ahead, senator stevenson. >> this sounds like stevenson had been in a conference. i don't know about my father, i don't know how far back that goes. and i don't know what the implications are, i can only guess. the conferences were occasional meetings of very senior figures around the world, they got together and discussed the problems facing the world. nothing sinister about them. yes, this adlai stevenson has been to a couple, i don't know that my father ever was, or that they even existed in his time. >> well, we are here in the stevenson barn, while senator stevenson is in his father's study. in the barn, there is a new exhibit about adlai stevenson, and there is a photograph, richard norton smith, you and i went over and look at this before we started. this is in 1945, the un
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formation, do you remember that photograph, over there, around the table. you were commenting on the different players in the photograph. >> well, yeah i do. i have in front of me, it's a remarkable group of people. you have john foster dallas, of course, governor stevenson, adlai stevenson, before the governorship. >> and nelson rockefeller. >> yes, young nelson rock unfair. harry stassen-berger, for he was a joke, before he was taken seriously. the secretary of state, and another man who is about to be father. >> so what was adlai stevenson rolled in the founding of the men? >> do you want to take that? >> it had to do with the preparatory conferences, i understand. >> well, he was also a delegate, to the conferences in san francisco. and then he was, which the
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united nations had adopted, and approved, by late 1945 we were living in london, where he was the u.s. delhi get to the preparatory commission, which laid the foundation, i mean actually started putting the building blocks together, including the location, in new york. he represented the united states at that commission, where great men from all over europe, and canada -- they used to assemble in her home, at night, because we had access to the commissary. an extraordinary group of people. he was in on the birth of the united nations, and incidentally, he died 20 years later, just a couple of blocks from her home in london, in 1945. that was 65, still serving the united nations.
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and his country. >> and we want to talk about adlai stevenson and his effect on the democratic party. here he is, in 1952, talking about the democratic party. >> i have been heartened by the convention, you have argued and disagreed, because as democrats you care and you care deeply. but you have disagreed and argued without calling each other liars and thieves. without spoiling our best positions. you have not spoiled our best positions, in any struggle for power. and you have written a platform, that neither equivocate, contradicts, and nor evades. you have restated our working specter, its principles, and its purposes, in language that none can mistake. over my afraid that the democratic party is indolent.
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after 150 years, it has been old for a long time. and it will never be indolent, as long as it looks forward, and not back. as long as it commands the allegiance of the young, and the hopeful, who dreamed the dreams and see the visions of a better america, and a different world. you will hear many sincere and thoughtful people expressed concern about the continuation of one body in power for 20 years, i don't belittle this attitude. but change, for the sake of change, has no absolute merit in itself. the people are wise, what do you think the republican think, and the democratic party is the people's party, not the labour party, not the farmer's party, not the employer's party, it is the party of no one, because it is the party of everyone. >> newton minow?
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>> i think adlai contribution to the country, -- he hoped campaigns would educate, people and he succeeded. he succeeded in teaching all of us about politics, it was something all of us should be involved in. i recently met the governor of indiana, mitch daniels, and i said i'm sorry you are not running for the presidency, and he said, why do you say that, i know your democrat? i said, i learned from my boss, adlai stevenson, that the best people in both parties should run, not the worst people. and i believe that. and i think adlai talk to all of us, and i think that's a legacy to be extremely grateful for, because this contribution
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is enduring today. >> yeah, i think historically, of course, he's a bridge between the new deal, really, and the new frontier. he holds aloft the banner of liberalism, in the fifties, a difficult era. but it's an interesting kind of liberalism. adlai stevenson believed in american exceptionalism. every bit as much as many on the right to, today. but it was an exceptionalism that was about ideas, and ideals, it was leading by example, it was not an exceptionalism and forced by military force. and of course, the other thing, he brought a whole generation of young people, who were inspired by his words, by his example, by his approach, his very unorthodox approach, to politics. >> we don't have a few minutes left, carrie joe, minnesota, we want to hear from you, go
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ahead. >> in 1952, when i was 13 years old, i was privileged to meet adlai stevenson. he came to the hotel war, where my mom and dad owned a hotel, and i was privileged to wait tables on him, we kids grew up in the hotel. and after meeting him, i admired him the rest of my life, i am now 72 years old, and i am still just so admiring, this wonderful democratic person. and i'm so thrilled that he was a man of morality, and he was a man that fought for the working people on. we need more adlai stevenson in this world, right now. and i'm just so happy that i
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met him, and the rest of my life -- >> all right, thank you for that call. let's let you talk to an adlai stevenson. senator? >> well, you know, the question we are left with is adlai stevenson possible today, in this money drench, corrupt, dysfunctional politics? would he even compete? could he compete? for the president of the united states? going from the stand, to stand, raising money for the interest, for jingles on television, the half hour blocks of time, the impossible. i'm not sure that he would be possible today. let alone, of franklin roosevelt, it wouldn't have been physically possible for him. which is why we have created the stevenson center, to try to address the systemic weaknesses in democratic systems, that
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might make and adlai stevenson possible. we tried, as i say in my book, to recall his values, his history that created the country, and can press them with our politics today. kenya politics as corrected as ours be expected to purify, to reform itself? i think that's the issue we are left with. i don't worry about the american people, i have enormous faith in the american people. but they are left with a process that represents everybody else. >> senator stevenson, as adlai stevenson the third, if you have to go to a store, and show your name somewhere, do people react? >> well the old folks, some of the old folks, i was hearing a story the other day and i saw these young women, at the counter, looking at my credit card. and she was looking at my name, and said is that name familiar
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to do? and she said no, but it's cool. i think we're forgotten, i think our politics, i'm afraid, is largely forgotten too. it's been a wonderful program, for the opportunity to recall other politics. >> jim, east brunswick, new jersey, please go ahead with your question or comment. >> yes, gentlemen, i'd like to ask victory to reflect on an event, late in the governors live. i recently reviewed several hours of cbs news coverage of the events of november 22nd, 63. and throughout that afternoon, these people continually refer to governor stevenson visiting dallas, a few weeks earlier, and being accosted and warning the president not to go there. and i research that, and it would seem that an airport event of a woman hate, or
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struck, governor stephen with the black. it seems a little more than that, but i wanted the panel to reflect on that, any regrets from the governor not stressing -- >> all right jim, we got the call, and richard norton smith you talked earlier about the situation. >> yeah, very briefly. he had gone to dallas, i believe for a united nations day event, and he had been confronted by this not of angry people. including the women with the sign. can she, it did, i think he was spot upon and struck. he certainly left with a vivid sense of potential dangers, that the president might encounter. >> and, newton minow do you know, that he called the president and worn him? or was i just thought? >> i don't know the answer to that, i'm sorry. >> senator steven's, and you know the answer to that question? >> no, my recollection is --
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first of all, somebody said, after -- he was asked if he wanted this woman who hate him to be prosecuted, and he said no i want her educated. i remember, after, my recollection is, that he did not warn the white house, and deeply, deeply, deeply regretted afterwards, that he had not. i'm sure how he called and described this experience, it would've had no effect, but he failed very guilty for not having done more, or anything to try implement the president from going to dallas. >> now we're gonna get one more car -- call, i need to think what we haven't talked about tonight yet, that you want to bring out. i'm gonna take this call from philip, texas, hi philip. >> good evening, the contenders is one of the great series that c-span has done, i really
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appreciate it. i grew up in the 1916 election, i was 12 years old, i was just becoming politically aware so i grub during the fifties, and while i'm a conservative, and i've always been so, and i doubt mr. stevenson and i would have agreed on much. i have been exposed to his speeches, his rhetoric, a lot of the things he said, and i'm of the opinion that he is one of the last really great political speech makers in our age. and you are speaking a moment ago about jingles, and things like that, i saw him making a speech, he was taking some from his notes, pre-teleprompter days, it wasn't just coming off the paper, he knew what he was saying, it was coming from the heart. and i've always admired his speech making abilities, and i just don't see that in our political process today. he had something to say, it took a little time to say it
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sometimes, but he was a man who knew what he wanted to say, and said it well. >> newton minow? >> he took great effort in those speeches, he worked on those speeches himself. hour after hour, he was criticized by the politicians for spending so much time on the speeches, but it some ways that's his legacy. as we wind up the program i have to say one of the biggest surprises in my life, was when he died so suddenly. and adlai three called me, to tell me that he and i were co-executors of his will. i did not know anything about that before he passed on. but that was, to me, a very touching thing of our relationship. but i think, as we wind up the program, he was one --
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even he didn't win, he won the hearts of millions, and millions of americans. and he won a great place in history. >> he raised the standards. the one question, i think, i would like to ask senator stevenson, because at the end of his father's life, it has become almost a folklore that ambassador stevenson was seriously contemplating resigning from the united nations, encouraged to do so by his liberal friends, who were opposed to lbj and vietnam policies, and i wanted to ask if it was ever discussed with his dad, and what his senses of his dad's intent? >> yes, first, i think these labels, conservative and liberal, can be very misleading. our sessions used to be called conservatives, to my father. but he was not a conservative, he was a creature of reason.
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when i serve in the senate, we were not democrats, republicans, we weren't really right, left, we were for the country, products of the enlighten men ideology, it didn't play much of a role. but, to your point, he did not tell this to me, but i did hear from a very, very close friend that he was planning to resign from the united nations, at the end of the year. largely, because he was very uncomfortable advocating policies that he didn't support, and by that, i mean vietnam. and he, of course, died in june of 65, in july of 65, before he
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could resign. but i think he was planning to resign. quietly, no protest, you know, it would not have been his way at all. but because he really could not continue to advocate policies that he didn't support. >> and that will have to be the last word. sadly stevenson, the second, and is buried in blooming to illinois. senator adlai stevenson the third, thank you for being with us this evening. newton minow, you as well. richard norton smith. this has been the contenders, and we leave you with this week 's contenders from the 1956 convention. >> i say trust people, trust are good sense, their decency, their fortitude, their fate. trust him with the great decisions. i say, it is time, to take this government away from them, who don't know how to count, and to turn it back, to men and women who care.
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>> tonight we feature 1964, presidential nominee goldwater. senator from arizona, called mr. conservative, lost a landslide against johnson, but paved way for young conservatives. watch tonight, starting at eight eastern, and enjoy american history tv, this weekend every weekend on c-span 3.
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>> now, on american history tv, adlai stevenson accepting the democratic nomination for president in 1952, his speech. >> a moment in the life of adlai stevenson. he's getting a tremendous ovation after that ha


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