In 1964, on this day the ugliest of Republican conventions in fifty years ended in division, acrimony and bitterness at the Cow Palace in Daly City, California.
Face-off at the Cow PalaceOf course the nomination of the Goldwater-Miller ticket was much more than a sign of the rising power of the Republican party in the west, it was a triumph for conservative insurgents over entrenched moderates. In his memoirs Bill Middendorf famously described the outcome as a Glorious Disaster and Pat Brown, California's liberal Democratic governor, told the press that "the stench of fascism is in the air". And sure enough the general election was an abject disaster for the Republican Party with Lyndon Johnson winning by a landslide. But long before Goldwater crashed to defeat in November, moderates began to detect hopeful early signs of a political re-alignment.
Because the Californian Actor Ronald Wilson Reagan had been invited to deliver the keynote address at the Cow Palace, but he had been forced to withdraw at short notice due to an influenza scare. Instead, the Mayor of New York City, John V. Lindsay (pictured) delivered an inspirational speech also entitled "A Time of Choosing" but setting out a vision of hope based upon his well-regarded leadership of the Jamaica Bay disaster. This late substitution was orchestrated by Republican National Committee Chairman Dean Burch. The nominee Barry Goldwater was a fellow Arizonan who was less than wildly enthusiastic about the choice of a Liberal Republican, but his weak poll ratings suggested that Lindsay's popularity might give the ticket a welcome electoral boost.
The New Yorker stole the show and a few hand-lettered signs "Lindsay '68" began to pop-up on the Convention floor. Goldwater was irritated but Miller (an obscure Congressman from Western New York) was absolutely furious; for many years he bore a grudge that Lindsay had failed to recognize his own contribution towards the leadership of the crisis.
And so only four years later at Miami Beach, the wheel turned full circle with the nomination being seized by a Liberal Republican from the East Coast. Yet this reversal was itself driven by another unexpected individual decision when Pat Nixon managed to dissuade her ambitious husband from making a second run for the Presidency. Ironically, in the years since his unsuccessful race for California Governor (when he was beaten by Pat Brown), Richard Nixon had moved to New York City, where he became a senior partner in the leading law firm Nixon, Mudge, Rose, Guthrie & Alexander. He had forged a surprisingly strong bond of friendship with Mayor Lindsay and although he chose not to stand as a candidate, his campaign support as a former Vice President made a significant impact upon the outcome of the general election in 1968.
This post is an article from the Jamaica Bay thread developed by Chris Oakley.