tv The Contenders CSPAN December 2, 2011 9:00pm-10:30pm EST
to see changes made -- but i love it enough that i want to see some changes made. the american people want to believe in the government and their country. i want to provide the kind of leadership that would help restore that kind of faith. i do not think i can do it alone. of course i cannot. but the president can help set a new tone in this country. he can help raise the hope of the american people. that is what i am trying to do. >> scott farris, the impact of george mcgovern's town in that campaign film and the impact on his -- tone in that campaign film and the impact on his primary run. >> how often do you hear politicians talking that candidly about the price of war? ferry seldom a, if ever. that was very -- very seldomly,
if ever. one person said, let me tell you why george lost the election. america is a great country. it has faults, but george acted like he was angry at the country. you cannot talk about the nation's faults and expected to be elected. george thought that was not true. he thought that patriotism was pointing out the country's false and trying to improve them. many people interpreted it as him tearing down the united states by talking so graphically about the cost of war, our conduct their, and even why we were there in the first place. >> so, how does george mcgovern overcome this and then win the nomination? >> again, he was a bit of a
political savant. he was an organizational genius. he understood what it would take to win. we talk about what a good guy he was, and that is true. we should not overlook the fact that he was intensely ambitious as well. a friend said to him, george, you are the most lauded, self effacing egomaniac i know. and that was true. he had what it tuck in terms of putting in the long hours. gary hart's campaign manager said that mccleskey would go for the jugular if that is what it took. he had a concept of how to win that involved all of these insurgents who would organize, fled the berkeley -- flooded the early caucus states and organized. he pulled off a very strong
second place showing in the iowa caucus, a very strong second place showing in new hampshire. it showed that muskie was vulnerable. a cost hubert humphrey to get into the race -- it caused hubert humphrey to get into the race. he nearly won ohio. we will talk about california a little bit more. he had better organization. he worked harder and he had the devotion of the anti-war insurgents that nobody else really had. >> jules witcover, what was the media making of this grassroots strategy at the time? were you paying attention to it? >> we were paying more attention to muskie, because muskie was supposed to be the winner. his staff made a terrible mistake in new hampshire. one of his leading campaign people predicted that -- she
said, if ed muskie does not win 50% of the vote, i will eat my hat. he won 46% of the vote, but against that prediction, mcgovern was essentially the winner of the new hampshire primary and muskie did not recover from that. if muskie had not stumbled -- mcgovern knowing the game, which he invented, the delegate selection rules, probably would have won anyway, but the fact that muskie had this string of mistakes and bad luck certainly provided the opening for mcgovern. >> and george wallace? the role of him in this primary? >> well, wallace was a spoiler. he tried to be a spoiler. he got past muskie in florida.
wallace won the florida primary and muskie finished fourth. that was kind of the last nail in muskie's coffin and another thing that opened up the way for mcgovern. >> so, muskie stumbled, but did mcgovern make any mistakes in this primary? >> he would later. he got a little complacent, oddly enough. he came from 100-1 odds to win the nomination, but he stumbled badly in california. he came into california writing riding the southern -- al all of the seven victories. it came down to the california -- all of these sudden victories. it came down to the california primary. the governor got a lot of early press that was good because he was the underdog.
-- nick of earn -- george mcgovern got a lot of good press early on because he was the underdog. but he lost in california. everyone assumed he was going to win in a blowout, but it turned out to be very close. it nearly derailed his nomination. we are going to get into that a little bit more, but i want to first talk about dirty tricks. what were some of the dirty tricks happening in the campaign? >> most of them are in new hampshire. we have already talked about the thing that was done to muskie, but throughout the campaign, dirty tricks were integral to nixon poses strategy, -- nixon's strategy because that is the way they did business.
the whole watergate break-in was a manifestation of their desire not only to win, but to destroy the whole campaign, which was really personified by nixon himself. it was to decimate the opposition, not to take chances. it led to the exits we saw soon after the watergate break-in. >> where does the tag line of amnesty after an abortion come from? explain what it is and where it comes from. >> remarkably, it came from his future running mate, at least according to bob novak in his posthumous memoirs. eagleton allegedly said he could not possibly have a chance because he favors amnesty,
abortion and marijuana. that was a little unfair. he did not support legalization of marijuana. he would go to college campuses and say, you have heard in the candidate who is supposed to legalize pot. the can knowledge -- the college campuses would go wild, and he would say, that is not true. the crowds would sit on their hands. he did not favor amnesty for deserters. he did favor for conscientious objectors. as for abortion, he believed abortion should remain a decision made at the state level, not the federal level. had he been asked about roe v wade, he would have opposed the basic construct, because it was a federal madeleine -- federal matter. people were trying to put a
peacenik, i hit the image on him. -- hit the -- hippie image on him. >> the line about amnesty, abortion and marijuana was a dirty trick, but it is so common in politics, even now. one side takes action to sabotage the other side. >> at the time that you heard that line, what did you make of it? >> not much. >> did you write about it? >> i do not remember what i wrote about it, but i would not have put it in the category of being a dirty trick. it is the sort of thing that would go on both sides come back and forth, always has done, and probably will continue to do. >> we're talking about george mcgovern, our 13th contender in
our 14-week series. go ahead. >> i was a 17-year-old college student at the time and volunteered for the mcgovern campaign, but i was not able to vote in that election. but my question is, the break-in of the democratic headquarters at the watergate did not appear to be exploited and announced that much by the mcgovern campaign at the time. why was there so much caution with the campaign not to denounce the break-in? it seems to me that the sinister aspects of the break-in may have been a very effective factor and reason for people not to re- elect nixon. i would like to conclude lastly that mr. mcgovern appears to be the only living contender who is available, and i wondered if he was invited to participate in your program tonight. >> he was invited to
participate, and we had planned that he would join us. unfortunately, he took a spill earlier this evening and will not be able to make it. he is doing fine, but regrettably, will not be able to make it this evening. let's take the caller's comments about the watergate break-in. why did the governor not make more of it? quite see certainly tried. at the time -- >> he certainly tried. the watergate story did not take off the way it should have, the way we would have expected it to. one of the reasons is kind of an inside journalism story. a lot of newspapers including the los angeles times had editors to be felt the story was unprovable -- who felt that the story was unprofitable and that the -- unprovable and that the
washington post was hanging out there by themselves. they did not always jump in on it. the governor himself had his way with it, but it did not catch on with the press the way he would have wanted it to. >> were the american people reading about it? >> you have to remember that the most discriminating aspects of watergate were revealed after the campaign was over, when the trial began and one of the defendants told the judge that there was more to the story than had come out. a lot of the stuff that came out was too late for it to be of any benefit to mcgovern, but he certainly did try. >> we have discussed the primary. let's go up to the convention.
here is george mcgovern at the convention in miami, joking about giving his speech at two 30 a.m. >> -- 2:30 a.m. >> chairman o'brien, chairman byrd, senator kennedy, senator eagleton and my fellow citizens, i am happy to join you for this benediction of our friday sunrise service. [applause] i assume that everyone here is control ofwith miny this convention and with my choice for vice president, challenged only by 39 other nominees.
>> we are back live from mitchell south dakota at the george mcgovern and museum. scott farris, a presidential author, the government gives this beach -- george mcgovern is 2:30 a.m.ch at two 30 a.m >> they had tried to do away with winner take all primaries, but they granted an exception for california. they realize there was a strong in certain feeling in california that would benefit who ever the insurgent candidate turned out
to be. they went to the california primary, the last primary before the convention, and now the race had narrowed down to mcgovern and humphrey. humphrey actually came within five points. at that point, humphrey then said, why should california be winner take all? the commission had talked about a proportional displacement of delegates. why should california be different? i should get half of the delegates from california, because he was trying to stop make govern. they were actually good -- stop george mcgovern. they were actually good friends. they had a lot in common. and george mcgovern was shocked that humphrey was going to such lengths to change california.
this went all the way to the convention floor where humphrey had proposed an alternative delegation that or have humphries supporters and have mcgovern -- that were half humphrey supporters and half mcgovern supporters. wednesday was the day they were supposed to submit their vice presidential nominees. people had been up all night. they did not have a short list of vice-presidential nominees. that was not wildly different than in the past. generally, they did not name the vice presidential nominee until the convention. because of the fiasco in 1972 when eagleton was picked, nominees are now picked well ahead of the convention so that they can be vetted.
he finally submitted the name just a few minutes before the deadline. by that time, he had angered the feminists. they had put a woman nominee yet. that encouraged other people to put up a whole bunch of nominees, a total of 39, some goofy, some serious. by the time they got the balloting done and nominated his running mate, it was almost 3:00 in the morning. >> who was on the possible short list of vice-presidential candidates? >> it started out as a long list. the night that they were supposed to pick the nominee, that morning at the hotel in miami, he called together the
staff, and they sat around this big green covered table in the hotel, and slips of paper were passed around to all of the staff members. all of the staff members were in on the decision as to who should be the vice president. they would write their opinion on a piece of paper and then it would be collected and they would total them. about 20 different people were nominated, and then they narrowed it down to about 10. and then they narrowed it down to six. i do not think i could name all six, but among that group, in addition to eagleton, were ted kennedy, who had said several times he did not want to do it, o'brien, the campaign manager, recalls -- rubikoff, the
governor of connecticut, and two or three others. they would take a ballot, take another one and another one, and finally they got down to two people. they were eagleton and kevin white, who was a mayor at the time. after some more discussion, they decided it should be kevin white. and they actually called devon white -- called kevin white and offered him the nomination, and he said he would take it. but an economist and member of the massachusetts delegation called the governor and said, you cannot take kevin white. the massachusetts delegation will walk out. ted kennedy will object. he had to back off and de-
nominate kevin white. that left eagleton. another reporter and i were hanging around outside this meeting for a couple of hours. when it finally broke up, we went into the room and found all the pieces of paper. they were torn up. we meticulously put them all together and spent about two hours patching them together to determine who it was going to be. there were so many names and so many little pieces, we wasted our time. >> there was no consensus among the staff. >> they had decided by that time that it would be eagleton, but all of those pieces of paper were there, and we did not know they had made a decision, so we wasted about two hours playing
detective, trying to figure out who it was. >> why did all of these potential running mates say no? when he does choose eagleton, eagleton except. who does that appeal to? >> most of them said no because they thought he was going to lose. even though senator mcgovern had some very good reasons why he thought he would win, nobody thought it would happen. nobody wanted to be associated with a losing campaign. his tactical error was that he thought he could convince senator kennedy to be his running mate. what he wanted to do was represent the insurgent wing of the party. it was the same problem hubert humphrey had in 1968. he wanted to unify the democrats. he was looking for someone who would be acceptable to labor, and urban ethnic, a catholic. that is why kevin white was considered and eagleton fit the bill.
eagleton had some presidential aspirations of his own. the communications director and top strategist called senator eagleton and said, is there anything in your past we should know about? and senator eagleton said no, no there was not. >> we will talk more about that decision and the fallout from it, but first, let me speak to ed in morristown, new jersey. go ahead. >> senator mcgovern took of robert kennedy's banner in 1968. how much support did he receive from the kennedy forces after he received the nomination and added a kennedy member, as you are about to discuss, to the ticket? >> do you want to take that one? >> the campaign enthusiastically for him. the kennedy family campaigned enthusiastically for him. when eagleton was dropped from the ticket, sargent shriver
agreed to be his running mate. they had a great affection for senator mcgovern. he was viewed as a strong ally of robert kennedy. he called him the most decent man in the u.s. senate. the kennedy family was behind him 100%. >> michael in ohio. you are next. >> this talk about the vice president's pick and so on is an example of how messed up that whole scenario seemed to be. what i always wondered was how come the democratic party never stood behind hubert humphrey, who only four years earlier had a very close election with president nixon, and why they would not have backed him all along instead of him just becoming another person trying to run for office?
>> jules witcover. >> one reason was that humphrey had been a presidential candidate before that and had not made it. muskie was so strong, and also you have to remember that nixon -- not nixon, but lyndon b. johnson, was the standard bearer in 1968 until he decided to drop out. humphrey did not get into that race until lbj dropped out. he did not have the apparatus to
go on. i think he probably would have been a good candidate. >> colorado, bud. you are on the air. >> thank you for taking my call and thank you very much for doing this series. we're talking tonight about one of my very favorite americans. the very first campaign that i was ever involved in. i have always been rather amazed at how much this country dismissed senator mcgovern and was willing to reelect richard nixon. i read jules witcover's book of the year it came out, while i was in college. i could not quite get it.
i think the senator has proven himself over decades to be a very great american, and i'm really grateful for c-span presenting this program. >> jules witcover. >> i would agree with the caller mcgovern was an underrated, under appreciated candidate. he was up against a candidacy, nixon's, that was very aggressive and destruction, and he made some mistakes in his own campaign. they did him in. without the conflicts of the campaign, the dirty tricks and so on, i wonder if he could have won the election. >> well, let's get into nixon's
role and the mistakes mcgovern made. but first, we need to talk about the choice of eagleton. here is the former campaign aide frank explaining the choice. >> the problem was that we had a very tough road to the nomination. it was not clear until the second day of the convention because of an ugly fault -- because of an ugly fight involving california, that george mcgovern would get the nomination. that took a lot of time and concentration. it got kind of chaotic. there were three or four days in which to choose a vice president, two days, really. two days, two nights. we all got together and talked. we named names, through some
names around. tom eagleton was, by all measurements, a good candidate. george mcgovern was from a small agricultural state in the north. tom eagleton was from a border state, a catholic with strong ties to labor. on key issues, he was in agreement with mcgovern. it looked like a pretty good fit. you have to remember that we did not have any fbi, any security agencies available to check anybody out. we assumed that tom eagleton who had run statewide and 14 or five times as he had, if there was four org -- and wpon five times as he had, if there
was anything but could have come out about him, it would have come out. >> what were you being told about the candidate? >> the betting candidates was a very casual sort of thing at the -- vetting candidates was a very casual sort of thing at that time. there was very little time, or any reason really, not to take his word for it that he had done nothing that would damage the campaign. >> after the convention, you go to sioux falls. what is happening? what is the story about eagleton? >> i was not there at the time that eagleton went there and met with mcgovern. word came that eagleton had had mental health problems and had
taken psychotherapy twice. mcgovern was satisfied with eagleton posole -- eagleton's explanation. there was not only support of him, but he made the mistake of saying he was for him 1000%. it was hard to back away from that when they realized the reaction they were getting after the disclosure of eagleton's problems. it was clearly going to damage the campaign. >> what happened next? >> there are trying to find a delicate way out of it and they were not able to do that. a couple of things happened. once the rumors -- or the truth came out about senator eagleton pose a treatment for depression, which is what he was --
eagleton's treatment for depression, which is what he had been diagnosed with. he was also accused of being a drunk driver, which turned out to be false. there was a sense that he was being picked on. a lot of people have mental and as. he said he was fine. why shouldn't he stay on the ticket? there was initially hoped he would quietly resign and go away, but senator eagleton was not feeling that way. he felt his reputation had been damaged. even though senator mcgovern said he was behind thomas eagleton 1000%, he was quietly trying to figure out how to get him off the ticket. there was a very long dance trying to negotiate eagleton
voluntarily resigning from the ticket. what happened was that eagleton essentially wrote out the statement that senator mcgovern would make, and there would be no reference to these mental health problems. that was the only condition under which he would resign. of course, this is now an albatross on the campaign. the struggle to replace eagleton took a very long time. senator muskie called a news conference to announce that he had declined being the nominee. eventually, he turned to sargent shriver, who had been one of the earlier choices but had been out of the country during the democratic nomination. now he was back. he said he would do it. he turned out to be an effective campaigner, but it was disastrous. the campaign was very hurt by the eagleton affair.
it is possible he still never would have won, but he may have carried tenor 15 states and 147% of the vote -- 10 or 15 states and carried 47% of the vote instead of 37% of the vote. there was a question of character. many people believed richard nixon was a knockoff of joe mccarthy. they cannot understand how the appeal to middle america. but because senator mcgovern had gone back and forth and maybe not been totally honest about eagleton, nixon now seemed more trustworthy. that hurt him very deeply. he was very sad about that. he now realize that the question was about his character, not nixon's. that was one of the factors that kept water gate from being a big story. people could not put watergate
in context, initially. why would they break into democratic headquarters? nobody knew it was part of a broader strategy of sabotaging democratic campaigns. the bigger story was the eagleton affair, not watergate, and that is one of the reasons the democrats could not capitalize on watergate. >> we'll talk more about what is happening with nixon at this time, but first, let me show you a couple of campaign ads from this. >> one of the reasons i am disturbed by the president's $10 million secret election fund is that it indicates that there is something he is afraid to disclose. whether they hiding? i am perfectly willing -- what are they hiding? i am perfectly willing to publish to be donated every single dollar to my campaign. but the president is covering it up. it is the sort of thing that
puts the tarnish on the whole nation. >> i can only say the thing that motivated might change -- might change -- my change was a year of collecting pure, unaffected fax. -- facts. >> i want to make this pledge to sammy and everybody here. whether you're young, old, black, white, i believe in the american dream. sammy davis believes in it. we have seen it in our own lives. years from now, i hope you can look back and say this was one of your best boats. thank you. -- best votes.
thank you. >> what is happening with nixon at this point in the general election? how is he campaigning? >> nixon is coasting, basically. he had a very, very disciplined campaign. it was a carryover from his campaign in 1968, where everything was orchestrated, down to the finest detail. that caution came out of his defeat in 1960 when he made the mistake of pledging to go to every state, and campaigned dawn to dusk. as a result of that, he looked terrible. we will all recall the debate he had with john f. kennedy, where he looked like he was going to expire. so, he and his brain trust decided that the best way to run richard nixon was to limit what he did and always have him at
his best. it happened in 1968 and again in 1972. >> what was it like for you to cover the mcgovern campaign versus the nixon campaign? how were they different? >> i covered them both. one difference was that mcgovern was running desperately. they knew that they were not catching on. they traveled widely. it was one of the first campaigns were jet planes were used extensively and they could go back and forth across the country in a day. just as humphrey had done when he lost two knicks in the first time, in 1968 -- lost to nixon in 1968, campaigning too much. one of the successes for nixon in 1968 and 1972 was that the campaign realized that if you
gave television just one face to use on the evening news, making it the best face you could. only do that one piece. whereas humphrey campaigned, as i said earlier, from dawn to dusk. he made a lot of mistakes. he made some good choices. but the media will always pick the most controversial thing, so nine times out of 10, humphrey would look bad and nixon would look good. the same thing applied in 1972 with mcgovern and nixon. >> what is the nixon campaign doing to try to weaken the government? >> again -- weaken mcgovern? >> again, they are trying to paint him as a radical, out of touch with the american mainstream. there also staying above the fray, talking about the accomplishments of the nixon
administration. and we talk about why mcgovern thought he had a chance to win. he had a number of accomplishments. nixon's first year in office was very controversial. he had expanded the war in vietnam, and domestically, he raised a lot of hackles by instituting wage control. there was inflation. he began the americanization of the war in vietnam, bringing troops home to try to quell the anti-war demonstrations. he tried to counter his image as a pro-warmonger by going to china and establishing relations.
he managed to orchestrate events so that his presidency reached its peak in 1972. his great accomplishments in office occurred in 1972 and took away a lot of the arguments about why he should not be supported. two other things about misjudgments he made. he thought george wallace was going to run again as a third- party candidate and siphon a lot of votes from nixon not only in the south but in the industrial northeast. of course wallace was the victim of an assassination attempt right before the maryland primary, was paralyzed, and was not able to continue the race. he also thought the youth vote would come out in mass in in his favor. surprisingly, he barely won the 18-20 year-old demographic, which showed that despite all of the attention given to anti-war
activists, a lot of americans were still very conservative. >> we know how this story ends. george mcgovern loses in one of the second worst landslides in american history. what is the mood of the campaign? >> when you're on the campaign plane, and you're in this tube lying around the country -- flying around the country, you do not know what is going on in the rest of the country. millions of people believed they were going to win and that they could win. the defeat was crashing to them. >> we need to, as we wrap up this discussion about the general election, we want to move on to the legacy of george mcgovern. but first, a little bit of the senator from his concession speech.
then you'll hear a secret white house recording of a phone conversation between president nixon and the special assistant for national security, henry kissinger. >> we suspect that president nixon will come out of this the winner with about 60% of the popular vote and somewhere between 4005500 or more electoral -- 450-500 or more electoral votes. >> i hope that in the next four years you will lead us to a time of peace abroad and justice at home. you have my full support in such efforts with best wishes to you and your gracious wife, pat. sincerely, george mcgovern. >> dr. kissinger and senator humphrey are speaking. it will be a few moments before we can get him. i have dr. kissinger. go ahead, please. >> hello, mr. president.
i wanted to extend my warmest congratulations. >> we all knew it was going to happen. we got our 60%. >> one could not really be sure until we had seen. >> we got every state except massachusetts, and maybe minnesota. what a critic. did you hear that concession statement? he was very gracious at the beginning. he sent me a wire saying i look forward to working with you and your supporters for peace in the years ahead. i am not going to send in that kind of wire. would you agree? >> absolutely. he was in generous -- not
generous, and worthy. -- unworthy. >> i responded in a decent way. it was as far as i could go, but i am not going to spend much time on him. >> you are looking at one of the cue cards from george mcgovern pose a concession speech. he said -- george mcgovern's concession speech. jules witcover, was his concession speech reviewed by others as not gracious? >> i do not think so. it took a paranoid personality like richard nixon to take it that way. >> scott farris, your reaction? >> it was generally pretty gracious. nixon's telegram to george
mcgovern was not particularly warm and friendly either. they both knew that they did not like each other. most people have not gone back and read all of the concession speeches in american history. i actually did that for my book. george mcgovern does get a little more testy than some of the others. barry goldwater is another one. apparently, when you lose in a landslide you're not feeling that good. during nixon's second inaugural, george mcgovern was in england at oxford, and gave a speech in which he was very critical of nixon. that actually caused a lot more comments than the concession speech he gave. i think the concession speech was in the realm of what is expected of a losing candidate. but the speech in oxford in
1973, a lot of people criticized him for saying those things, especially to a foreign audience. >> we're going to move on to what george mcgovern did after he ran for president in 1972. but first we're going to get to ed in ohio. >> good evening. there is an important article that nick of burned -- that make governor -- the george mcgovern wrote that was in the washington journal. it is my advice to obama. he went on to say, first, i will order all troops out of iraq and
afghanistan by thanksgiving. >> ed, i am going to leave it there because we're getting a lot of feedback. you have to turn your television down. scott farris, pick it up there with george mcgovern and his impact on president obama. his antiwar views. >> he created a coalition that represents the modern democratic party, the party that elected barack obama in 2008. the obama campaign in 2007-2008 tended to mirror george mcgovern, an insurgent candidate against a more established candidate, hillary clinton. clearly, president obama followed the george mcgovern blueprint to a certain degree. in terms of the war, george mcgovern has said two things. first, he has been disappointed
that president obama has escalated american involvement in afghanistan. he has criticized that and suggested that afghanistan could become another vietnam, which of course was the centerpiece of his campaign. he has offered obama a lot of praise, but also expressed his concerns as well. >> duncan in ohio, go ahead. >> thank you for having me. i was just curious if you had ever heard of an organization called the builder, and whether or not -- bildeberg, and whether george mcgovern had been to a meeting with them? >> i have not heard of that. >> we continue to talk about george mcgovern and his post- 1972 career. this is bill clinton, who
actually ran the george mcgovern campaign in texas, as many of you know. >> think of just the highlights of this fascinating life. pilot, a teacher, congressman, senator, first director of food for peace, author with senator dole of the food stamp program, courageous critic of the vietnam war, first and only person from south dakota so far to be nominated for president, united nations delegate under presidents ford and carter, advocate for disarmament and peace in the middle east. when i was president, united nations ambassador to the food and agriculture organization, recipient of the medal of freedom, and with senator dole, the inspiration for the school funding program. george did not tell you what happened with the $300 million.
there are 130 million children in this world who never darkened a schoolhouse door. their idea was to say to poor kids across the world and to their parents, you can have one good nutritious meal a day no matter how poor you are, but you have to come to school to get it. after we passed that little bit the initiative in a multi- trillion dollar budget, schoolroom and around the world in the first year went up by more than -- school enrollment around the world in the first year went up by more than 6 million children. >> scott farris, explain why george mcgovern had a passion on this issue and its impact. >> two reasons. one, he was a generally compassionate man. he saw hundred during be a -- during the depression. he said -- he saw hundred during
the depression. he saw hundred during the war. as a senator from a farm state, he also understood how this was a program with a marvelous capacity to produce food. other farm state senators like senator dole saw the opportunity in this as well. one of the things senator mcgovern did, when the food for peace program was first initiated under the eisenhower administration, it was seen as a way to get rid of agricultural surpluses that the government had purchased, a program from the new deal. george mcgovern said it is a humanitarian thing. it is about feeding the hungry, especially children. he took the food for peace program, which was a minor program under eisenhower, and dramatically in creased its
scope. in six months, he distributed six times as much food as the eisenhower administration had delivered in six years. millions of children around the world got a school lunch. it was probably the greatest humanitarian effort of the kennedy administration, including the peace corps. >> we have about 10 minutes left, talking about george mcgovern. as we told you earlier, we invited senator mcgovern to be on our program this evening. unfortunately, he took a spill earlier tonight and was unable to join us. he has been flown to sioux falls south dakota for further medical attention. unfortunately, he could not be with us. we wish him the best of health. jake in sioux falls, s.d., go ahead. >> excellent program tonight.
my question is whether george mcgovern was ever delectable in 1972. were there any -- ever elective all -- electable in 1972. could he have been elected if he had avoided eagleton debacle or the late-night speech? >> the conditions we have talked about at some length to night were a mixed bag in the campaign. for all this support that george mcgovern got from war protestors, there were just as many people who did not look at the war that way. they did not think it was a disaster. their attitudes were shaped by president nixon, who played on their patriotism and played on their emotions, and turned the demonstrations that helped
george mcgovern into almost a national disgrace in a way that helped nixon. >> was his political career over after 1972? >> he continued to serve in the united states senate. he was reelected in south dakota pretty handily in 1974. by that time, watergate had come about and president nixon had resigned. senator mcgovern felt a bit of vindication. it is unfortunate that his defeat was so total in 1972 that he was not mentioned as a candidate in 1976. in 1980, there was a big republican wave that brought ronald reagan into office. many democrats lost their seats in congress. in 1984, george mcgovern launched another quixotic bid for the presidency.
he was up against gary hart and former vice president walter mondale. george mcgovern got kudos for being a thoughtful presence. he got credit for trying to heal some of the wounds within the party. he maintained a very active life in public affairs, going back to this passion for addressing world hunger. with bill clinton, he helped work on the world food program, which helped to feed many people. under and nutrition remains his passion today, as well he did hunter -- hunger and nutrition remains his passion today, as well as reminding people of liberal values. >> thank you very much. i think you guys have done your studies.
i want to just remind everybody to remember george after "losing" and election. i do not think he lost. i think he moved on to be much better things, like you folks were just talking about with the world hunger program. george has survived wars, being in antiwar person yet willing to step up for our country. i think he is a great peacekeeper, and he understands world politics like we do not understand. my question is, for our country, who in 2012 is the closest candidate that can carry out george mcgovern's policies? who is the closest, best option that we have? >> it is barack obama. i do not think that any of the
republican candidates represent anything akin to the sorts of things that george mcgovern running for president in 1972 or the objectives he has carried out the rest of his life. >> what kind of president would george mcgovern have been? >> i actually think he would have been a pretty good president. i base that on the food for peace program. one of the things you need to bring to the presidency is certain executive management skills. what he did with the food for peace program, without a lot of money, indicates that he was able to carry things out. had he become president, he may have had a difficult time getting us out of vietnam in a way that would have been acceptable to people, but i think he would have been a fine president. i think he had the qualities of judgment and good will that
americans want in their president. >> in the future of liberals in this country? >> again, he has outlined a map for the democratic party to be a major force in politics, to return to its status as the majority party. it is a question of whether the democrats will get over the nostalgias of the new deal coalition. a lot of people remember their parents and families growing up in urban america and would like to restore the democratic party to that labor union ideal. i think senator mcgovern realize that there are more fertile grounds for working with liberalism within the democratic party. there are ways to appeal to minorities, women, to the young, and to continue to broaden their base. he has shown the way for them to be a viable political force. maybe gary hart is right.
without george mcgovern, the democratic party might have ceased to exist as a viable party. >> then give this one to both of you. will there be another antiwar candidate? in the future, like a mcgovern? >> the thing the differentiated him from other anti work candidates was in his heart, was in his soul -- anti-war candidate was in his heart, in his soul. i think he might disagree with barack obama, who said he is not against all wars. george mcgovern was not against all wars either because he fought courageously in one. but i think if he had been elected, he would have gone as out of vietnam as soon as he could. it certainly would have been a lot sooner than nixon did, with the country's tail between its
legs. >> scott farris, quickly. >> i do not believe anyone will ever run as an anti-war candidate exactly the way he did. he showed what a presidential candidate can and cannot say about a war when america is involved in it. people were very unsettled when he was so uncompromising and graphic in his language. it is indicative that ever since george mcgovern, presidential nominees they don't want to be called, as mike dukakis called, he is not another mcgovern when it comes to foreign affairs. at i am skeptical unless we have more time passed that we talk about war the way that george mcgovern did in 1972. >> we need to wrap up on that point. we want to thank the mcgovern center and our guests. we would also like to think it's got mortensen, and senator
mcgovern's daughter, and senator mcgovern as well. scott, your final thoughts, if i could, since you are the presidential author, what is the legacy of george mcgovern? transformed the democratic party in a way that very few have ever transformed the political party. his food for peace, his humanitarian efforts, those may be his greatest legacy is. who knows how many are alive today because of george mcgovern. something i forgot to mention, bill clinton, his texas coordinator. he spawned a lot of young idealists who went into politics and made a name for himself. for a man who lost the presidential election, he had a lot of influence. >> thank you both. bu [captions copyright national
cable satellite corp. 2011] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> we are not content with things as they are. we reject the view that people say, america, love it or leave it. >> "the contenders" continues live next friday. it will be in texarkana, texas, taking your calls about the
presidential campaign of ross perot. see tonight's program at 11:00 p.m. eastern. for more information on our series "the contenders," go to our special website where you'll find biographies, historian appraisals, and speeches, all at c-span.org/thecontenders. next, president obama talks about jobs and the economy. after that, house republicans and democrats discussed payroll cut legislation. at 11:00 p.m., the contenders on key figures to run for president and lost, the changed political history. tonight, the life of george mcgovern. president obama was joined by former president bill clinton in washington, d.c., to announce a 4 billion other initiatives improving the energy efficiency of government and private-sector
thank you all for being here. i want to thank all the people involved for their commitment to energy efficiency and all the people they put to work. mr. president, i want to thank you and the secretary and your whole team. thank you for joining together today for what you are doing. when the president asked me to work with his jobs council on improving energy efficiency in buildings, i think he did it because the clinton-bogle initiative and mild climate change project had been working on these kinds of things for several years now and i believe as strongly as i can say that this is good business, creates jobs, makes us more in independent and helps fight climate change.
it is the nearest thing we have got to a free lunch in a tough economy. all of the savings can be paid back within a reasonable amount of time and all the cost of construction can be paid through utility bills. we're working on that and the president has an announcement to make about that today. i just want to say how grateful i am for the work that the labor has done in putting up some of the pension funds from california and some other funds they have to actually invest their own money, gambling that they can get a reasonable return in putting people to work. i appreciate the support that tom has given to this. there are a lot of construction
firms that will lose really skilled, gifted workers if they cannot find something to do. the best opportunity to preserve and rebuild this sector is through greater energy efficiency. i want to thank all the people who have been involved in this. mr. president, i just want to say how grateful i am for the meeting we just attended. the president's jobs council and economic team put together a meeting we were just that. there were nearly 50 people there. he will tell you what they said they would do, but i hate to sound like a broken record -- we could create an almost unlimited number of jobs out of this, even in this lousy economy, even with all this imbedded mortgage crisis, it we can work out financing. i am grateful to be able to support this, to offer the
continued effort of our climate change project and the clinton global initiative, to help the partners we have that are involved in this and anybody else who wants it. but i am especially grateful that the president did not let this fall through the cracks. i have not been in that job for a long time, and i am getting older, but i have some memory left. 1000 people ask you to do 1000 things. one of the test of whether things worked out or not, since you cannot do all 1000, is whether you can set up a process to do things and follow- up. i am full of gratitude and praise for you and your whole team, not just for your commitment to clean energy, but for your commitment to energy efficiency, which on buildings like this, averages 7000 jobs for every billion dollars invested, by far the biggest bang for the bulk of any available investment by no. thank you, tom.
thank you, rikki and randy. mr. president, thanks for giving me the chance to work on this. -- the biggest bang for the buck of any available investment i know. >> good morning, everybody. i want to first thank randy and, for their participation. i am thrilled that president clinton has been willing to take this on. as he pointed out, partly thanks to me, he is home alone too often. this has been a passion of his for quite some time. i am very grateful for his involvement. i thank all the folks who are participating here for giving us this remarkable for -- tour. there are the equivalent of 250 full-time workers as a consequence of the project that is taking place here. it is a win for the business
owner. it is a win for the tenants of the building. it is a win for the construction workers who are participating and for the property manager that is doing such a great job. this is a great example of what is possible. as president, my most pressing challenge is doing everything i can every single day to get this economy growing faster and to create more jobs. this morning, we learned that our economy added another 140,000 private-sector jobs. the unemployment rate went down. despite some strong headwinds this year, the american economy has not created in the private sector jobs for the past 21 months in a row. that is nearly 3 million new jobs in all and more than 500,000 over the last four months.
we need to keep that growth going. right now, that means congress needs to extend the payroll tax cuts for working americans for another year. congress needs to be no unemployment insurance for americans who are still out there pounding the pavement looking for work -- congress needs to renew the unemployment insurance. failure to take either of these steps would be a significant blow to our economy. i to take money out of the pockets of americans who are most likely to spend it and would harm small businesses that are dependent on the spending. it would be a bad idea. i noticed that some folks on the other side have been telling president clinton it is a bad idea to raise taxes. during tough economic times. that is precisely why i sought to extend the payroll tax this year and next year. it does mean that we lock in tax cuts for the wealthiest
americans. i do not think president clinton has been on board for that for perpetuity, but just thought that might be worth mentioning. that is why it is so disappointing, last night, by the way, that senate republicans voted to block those payroll tax cuts. that effectively would raise taxes on nearly 160 million hard-working americans. because they did not want to ask a few hundred thousand of the wealthiest americans to pay their fair share and get the economy growing faster than ever, and i think that is unacceptable. we are going to keep pushing congress to make this happen. now is not the time to slam the brakes on the recovery. right now, it is time to step on the gas. we need to get this done. i expect it is going to get done before congress leaves. otherwise congress may not be leaving and we can all spend christmas here together. our longer-term challenge is rebuilding an economy where
hard work is valued and responsibility is rewarded and the middle class and folks who are trying to get into the middle class regain some security. an economy that is built to compete with the rest of the world and an economy that is built to last. that is why we are here today in a place where clearly there is some building going on. president clinton, leaders of business, leaders of labor -- we are all here to announce some new steps that will create new jobs rebuilding america. this building is in the middle of the retrofitting project to make it more energy-efficient. already, this retrofit is saving this building $200,000 a year on its energy bills. as i mentioned earlier, by the time it is finished, it will have created more than 250 full-time jobs in construction here in this building. consider president clinton's
coming down from new york. the fact that the owners of the empire state building did the same thing. they are retrofitting that iconic landmark from top to bottom. it is a big investment, but it will pay for itself by saving them for $0.4 million a year in energy costs. -- $4.4 million per year in energy costs. it is estimated that all the retrofitting they are doing will pay for itself in about four and a half years. -- it will pay for itself by saving them for $0.4 million -- $4.4 million. it is a trifecta. which is why you have labor and business behind it. it could save our business is up to $40 billion a year on their energy bills. money better spent growing and hiring new workers. it would boost manufacturing of energy-efficient materials.
when millions of construction workers have found themselves out of work since the housing bobble burst, it will put them back to work doing the work that america needs done. this is an idea whose time has come. that is why in february, i announced the better buildings initiative, an ambitious plan to improve the energy efficiency of america's commercial buildings 20% by the year 2020, and i asked president clinton and my jobs counsel to challenge the private sector as part of the initiative to step up, make these cost-saving investments and prove that it works so that other companies follow their lead. i believe that if you are willing to put people to work making your buildings more efficient, america should provide you some incentives to do so. that is something that would require congressional action. we have asked congress to work with us to move on providing
more effective incentives for commercial building owners all across the country to move forward on these energy efficient steps, but we cannot wait for congress to act. if they will not act, i will, which is why today, i am directing all federal agencies -- all federal agencies -- to make at least $2 billion worth of energy efficiency upgrades over the next two years. none of these upgrades will require taxpayer money to get them going. we are going to use performance-based contracts that use savings on energy and utility bills to pay the contractors to do the work, and it should keep construction workers pretty busy. in fact, this is something that the chamber of commerce has said is critical to private sector job creation. the private sector and community leaders are also stepping up to the plate alongside the federal government.
president clinton and the clinton global initiative have been tremendous partners in rallying them. in june, we announced initial commitments of $500 million to upgrade 300 million square feet of building space. some of these projects are already under way. the good news is today, we can announce that we are going even bigger. you can see larger commitments. we now have 60 major companies, universities, labor unions, hospitals, cities, and states, and they are stepping up with nearly $2 billion in financing to upgrade an additional 1.6 billion square feet of commercial industrial space by our target year of 2020. that is more than 500 empire state buildings. i just had the chance, along with president clinton, to meet with representatives of these institutions that are involved and hear firsthand how they can
put americans back to work but also improve their bottom lines. you have companies like best buy and walgreen's that are going to upgrade stores lighting, which will save them money. manufacturers like alcoa that will make their manufacturing plants more efficient, dramatically reducing their operating costs, which means they can compete more effectively all around the world. you have property management companies that are upgrading their buildings to make real estate portfolios more attractive to businesses. our military families will get lower utility bills and higher quality of life and all of this will create jobs. over the past decade, we have seen what happens if we do not make investments like these. we have seen what happens when we do not come together for a common purpose. wages flat line. incomes fall. employment stalls. we lose our competitive edge. we have also seen what happens
when we do what is right. when bill clinton was president, we did not shortchange investors. we did not say we would cut back on the things that we know would help us grow in the future. we did not make decisions that put the burden on the middle- class or the port -- poor. we invested in our future and ask everybody to pay their fair share. private-sector thrived. jobs were created. the middle class grew as income group. millions rose out of poverty. we ran a surplus. we were actually on track to be able to pay off all of our debt. we were firing on all cylinders. we can be the nation again. that is our goal. we will be that nation again. but we are going to have to fight for it. there is work to be done. there are workers like these guys who are ready to do it. there are businesses who are ready to step up.
we just have to get organized, get mobilized, and move. i want to thank everybody who is participating here for stepping up to the plate and showing extraordinary leadership. i am confident that this is going to be one important piece of the puzzle to get the economy moving again. thank you very much everybody. >> president clinton, any advice for president obama about the economy? >> he gives me advice all the time. >> i will say again -- this announcement today -- the reason you should be encouraged by this -- you can run the numbers. this meeting we just came from represented trillions of dollars in potential investment. and if the president, by doing this, can trigger investment so that you have more buildings
like this -- keep in mind, it can also change what goes on in every rural place and small town in america. every little county has one bonded contractor. that bonded contractor can guarantee to every public school, every state, county, and local building, every little office building what the savings are going to be. they have the software. we have to have breakthroughs on financing. that is really the long-term potential significance of what the president announced today and the fact that he did something that only a president can do. he got all these people together and then, to have the afl-cio and afc and others lead the way saying they will put their members' pensions into this because they can get a good, stable return and put current members to work and other peoples of return -- and other people to work -- this is a good deal.
>> at the daily press briefing, jay carney criticized a republican payroll tax cut plan. he also talked about the unemployment numbers dropping to the lowest level since march of 2009. >> let me begin, if i may, with a quick statement -- announcement, rather. the president looks forward to welcoming prime minister stephen harper of canada to the white house on wednesday, december 7. canada, as you know, is a close ally and partner of the united states and the president looks forward to discussing our important bilateral relationship, including economic competitiveness and security, and key global issues. >> did you say keystone?
>> i said key global issues. >> thank you. >> julie. >> thank you. >> i want to -- it's friday, it's a glorious day. let's -- i promise to be brief in my answers, and let's get on with the questions. yes. >> sounds good. president obama was pretty measured in his response today to the jobs report, and i know that the white house doesn't like to make too much out of any one report. but is part of his measured response part of trying to lower expectations or not raise expectations for the public in case this trend doesn't hold? >> that's an excellent question. let's look at the numbers. the key number here is another month, 21st month in a row, of private sector job growth -- 140,000 i think this month. that is significant because it demonstrates now nearly 3 million jobs have been created in the private sector since we began to turn this economy around.
but you're right in that we don't make much out of one month's numbers. we look for trends. and we know we have an enormous amount of work to do -- 8.6% unemployment is way too high. and that's why this president is focused on getting the payroll tax cut extension and expansion passed through congress, because he believes that it is essential for next year that we have that extra $1,550 in the average american family's wallet next year, and that we have the incentives for small businesses to hire and expand so that the economy can keep growing, maybe grow even faster, and further bring down a much too high unemployment rate. signs of progress are good, but we have a long way to go. and it in many ways just reiterates or reinforces why we have to get this payroll tax cut passed and why congress
really should pass every element of the american jobs act, because unemployment remains a significant problem that we need to tackle together. >> you said yesterday that the president quite possibly could take a more personal role in the negotiations over the payroll tax cut. >> i said maybe. >> you said quite possible. >> yes. >> could you give us any more insight into that, especially given the fact that today the president basically threatened to keep congress in washington through christmas if they can't reach an agreement? >> the president and his entire team will be working with congress to try to get this payroll tax cut passed. it is shocking, i think, to many americans who are paying attention that not only did republicans vote against a payroll tax cut expansion -- extension and expansion that was paid for in a way that is entirely reasonable, but an overwhelming majority of republicans voted against their own bill, which means, clearly, that the issue here isn't pay- for -- the pay-fors, i mean, for those of you not in washington -- the issue isn't here how you pay for this, it's
whether or not republicans even want to extend a tax cut to 160 million americans, to working, middle-class americans. i really -- you tend to think that you know what's going to happen in washington; i thought that vote last night was very surprising, given the unbelievable lack of support in one party for giving tax cuts to middle-class americans. and what's shocking about it even more so is the fact that so many republicans have, in the past, said they supported payroll tax cuts. so we're going to work night and day to make sure that americans get the tax relief that they need and deserve, and that this economy needs and deserves. >> can you give us any details on how the president and his team will work -- >> no, i don't have anything for you on that now. but it will, i'm sure, involve conversations at different levels, and an effort to find a way to get this done, because
it's the right thing to do for the economy and the right thing to do for the american people. i'm going to get a little crazy here -- vick. >> all right. you just told julie that the issue is not how you pay for it. is it essential, in the administration's view, that the payroll tax cut be paid for? >> well, as you know, vick, the president put forward a proposal, comprehensive jobs proposal, of which the payroll tax cut extension and expansion was a significant component that was entirely paid for in a way that is economically sensible and asks only that -- >> it was part of the jobs act, though -- >> it was part of the jobs act, and in the senate -- >> so taken alone, is it essential -- >> you know what, the bill that performed much better yesterday included a single republican senator in support, had as its pay-for a simple request that the 300,000 or so wealthiest taxpayers in america pay a little extra on their income
over a million dollars so that 160 million americans get a tax cut next year. now, that didn't succeed. the president obviously believes that the preferable way to do this is to have it paid for, and he will work with congress to try to get this done in a way that meets his very high priorities. because what he will not believe is the right path to go here is to cut education or energy or head start, or programs that are essential to the very people you're trying to help through the payroll tax cut. >> preferable, but essential? is it essential that it be paid for? >> again, i'm not going to negotiate the endgame of this process. what i will say is that it will stun me if members of congress, of the republican party, truly want to head into next year having voted to raise taxes on middle-class americans. >> many of those rub
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