1972 Democratic National Convention


1972 Democratic National Convention

Infobox National Political Convention
year = 1972
party = Democratic
date = July 10 - July 13
venue = Miami Beach Convention Center
city = Miami Beach, Florida
presidential_nominee = George McGovern
presidential_nominee_state = South Dakota
vice_presidential_nominee = Thomas Eagleton
vice_presidential_nominee_state = Missouri
The 1972 National Convention of the United States Democratic Party was held at Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami Beach, Florida from July 10 to July 13, 1972. It nominated Senator George McGovern for President and Senator Thomas Eagleton for Vice President. Eagleton later withdrew from the race when it was disclosed that he had undergone mental health treatment (including electroshock therapy) in the past. He was replaced on the ballot by Sargent Shriver. The convention itself was one of the most bizarre in recent American history, with sessions beginning in the early evening and lasting until sunrise the next morning, and previously-excluded political activists gaining influence at the expense of elected officials and traditional core Democratic constituencies such as organized labor. Hunter S. Thompson covered this convention in detail in several articles and in Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72.

Delegate Selection

The 1972 convention was significant in that the new rules put into place as a result of a commission (which McGovern himself had chaired) opened the door for quotas mandating that certain percentages of delegates be women or members of minority groups, and subjects that were previously deemed not fit for political debate, such as abortion and gay rights, now occupied the forefront of political discussion.

The new rules for choosing and seating delegates created an unusual number of rules and credentials challenges. Many traditional Democratic groups such as organized labor and big city political machines had small representation at the convention. Their supporters challenged the seating of relative political novices, but for the most part were turned back by the supporters of South Dakota senator George McGovern. McGovern had amassed the most delegates to the convention by using a grass roots campaign that was powered by opposition to the Vietnam War. Many traditional Democratic leaders and politicians felt that McGovern's delegate count did not reflect the wishes of most Democratic voters. Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter helped to spearhead a "Stop McGovern" campaign. The stop-McGovern forces tried unsuccessfully to alter the delegate composition of the California delegation. California had a "winner-take-all" primary format, which was contrary to the delegate selection rules. So even though McGovern only won the California primary by a 5% electoral margin, he won all 273 of their delegates to the convention. The anti-McGovern group argued for a more proportional distribution of the delegates, while the McGovern forces stressed that the rules for the delegate selection had been set and the Stop McGovern alliance was trying to change the rules after the game. As with the credential fight, McGovern's army carried the day effectively handing the nomination to Senator McGovern.

The Illinois primary required voters to select individual delegates, not presidential candidates. Most Illinois delegation members were uncommitted and were controlled or influenced by Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley. The delegation was challenged by McGovern supporters arguing that the results of the primary did not create a diverse enough delegation in terms of women and minorities. The credentials committee, headed by Patricia Roberts Harris, rejected the entire elected delegation, including elected women and minorities, and seated an unelected delegation led by Jesse Jackson and pledged to George McGovern.

McGovern recognized the mixed results of the changes that he made to the Democratic nominating convention, saying, "I opened the doors of the Democratic Party and 20 million people walked out." [Jonah Goldberg, [http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NzViZWNhOTk2ZTY3YzRmYjU3NjU4YWY0ODg1M2FjNjY= "Nedrenaline Rush"] August 11, 2006 "National Review"] McGovern's campaign also represented the last time before 2008 that a mostly grass roots candidacy was able to wrest control of either party's presidential nomination against the perceived will of a party's leadership.

Running Mate

Most polls showed McGovern running well behind President Richard Nixon, the incumbent, except when he was paired with Massachusetts senator Ted Kennedy. McGovern and his campaign brain trust lobbied Senator Kennedy heavily to accept the bid to be McGovern's running mate, but he continually refused their advances, and instead suggested Arkansas' Wilbur Mills and Boston's Mayor, Kevin White.cite news|url=http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,906135-7,00.html|title=Introducing... the McGovern Machine|date=Monday, Jul. 24, 1972 |publisher=Time Magazine|accessdate=2008-09-07] Offers were then made to Hubert Humphrey, Connecticut Senator Abraham Ribicoff and Minnesota Senator Walter Mondale, all of whom turned it down.

McGovern and his campaign staff felt that they needed someone like Kennedy to balance out the ticket; a Catholic, big city based leader with strong ties to organized labor and big city political machines. McGovern informed Kennedy that he was seriously considering Kevin White, who had informed McGovern he was available. But the Massachusetts delegates threatened to boycott the convention hall if the choice was White, who as a Muskie supporter had fought sharply with the McGovern slate during the primary. White was dropped.

Finally, they offered the Vice-Presidential slot to Senator Thomas Eagleton of Missouri. Eagleton was relatively unknown to many of the delegates, and that fact, along with the inexperience of many of the delegates who were wary after the protracted infighting, caused the Vice-Presidential balloting to become almost a farce. The delegates insisted on nominating eight candidates for Vice President, including not only Eagleton but also Alaska's Senator Mike Gravel, former Massachusetts Governor Endicott Peabody and Texas State Representative Frances ("Sissy") Farenthold. By the time the roll call finally began, the delegates were in a prankish mood, casting ballots for TV's Archie Bunker, Martha Mitchell and CBS-TV's Roger Mudd.

Eventually, Eagleton secured the nomination but the last-day-of-school atmosphere of the proceedings dragged out the process. When Eagleton was at last confirmed, it was 1:40 a.m. This delay forced the acceptance speeches of the candidates to be given well past prime time television hours and probably hurt the McGovern campaign by not creating the so-called "convention bounce."

Several days after the convention, it was revealed that Senator Eagleton had been hospitalized for depression and had electric shock treatment. He was also rumored to be more than a social drinker and had what many considered too close ties to the Kansas City Pendergast machine. McGovern stood behind his choice and stated that he was behind Senator Eagleton "1000 percent". The news media and many political pros, especially in the Democratic Party, lobbied hard for his removal from the ticket.

Eventually McGovern felt compelled to accept Senator Eagleton's resignation from the ticket. The episode had placed McGovern in a "no-win" situation. If he kept Eagleton, the selection did not look good for the decision-making ability of the McGovern team, while if he removed Eagleton, he appeared to be weak and vacillating. Since this incident, front-running presidential candidates have developed short lists of potential running mates and have meticulously performed background checks.

McGovern chose Sargent Shriver as his running mate a few weeks later. The McGovern-Shriver ticket went on to one of the greatest landslide defeats in American political history.

Delegate Vote for Presidential Nomination

* George McGovern - 1,729 (57.37%)
* Henry M. Jackson - 525 (17.42%)
* George Wallace - 382 (12.67%)
* Shirley Chisholm - 152 (5.04%)
* Terry Sanford - 78 (2.59%)
* Hubert Humphrey - 67 (2.22%)
* Wilbur Mills - 34 (1.13%)
* Edmund Muskie - 25 (0.83%)
* Ted Kennedy - 13 (0.43%)
* Wayne Hays - 5 (0.17%)
* Eugene McCarthy - 2 (0.07%)
* Ramsey Clark - 1 (0.03%)
* Walter Mondale - 1 (0.03%)

[http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=58482 Source]

Delegate Vote for Vice-Presidential Nomination

* Thomas Eagleton - 1,742 (59.07%)
* Frances Farenthold - 405 (13.73%)
* Mike Gravel - 226 (7.66%)
* Endicott Peabody - 108 (3.66%)
* Clay Smothers - 74 (2.51%)
* Birch Bayh - 62 (2.10%)
* Peter W. Rodino - 57 (1.93%)
* Jimmy Carter - 30 (1.02%)
* Shirley Chisholm - 20 (0.68%)
* Moon Landrieu - 19 (0.64%)
* Edward T. Breathitt - 18 (0.61%)
* Ted Kennedy - 15 (0.51%)
* Fred R. Harris - 14 (0.48%)
* Richard G. Hatcher - 11 (0.37%)
* Harold Hughes - 10 (0.34%)
* Joseph Montoya - 9 (0.31%)
* William L. Guy - 8 (0.27%)
* Adlai Stevenson III - 8 (0.27%)
* Robert Bergland - 5 (0.17%)
* Hodding Carter - 5 (0.17%)
* César Chávez - 5 (0.17%)
* Wilbur Mills - 5 (0.17%)
* Wendell Anderson - 4 (0.14%)
* Stanley Arnold - 4 (0.14%)
* Ron Dellums - 4 (0.14%)
* John J. Houlihan - 4 (0.14%)
* Roberto A. Mondragon - 4 (0.14%)
* Reubin O'Donovan Askew - 3 (0.10%)
* Herman Badillo - 3 (0.10%)
* Eugene McCarthy - 3 (0.10%)
* Claiborne Pell - 3 (0.10%)
* Terry Sanford - 3 (0.10%)
* Ramsey Clark - 2 (0.07%)
* Richard J. Daley - 2 (0.07%)
* John DeCarlo - 2 (0.07%)
* Ernest Gruening - 2 (0.07%)
* Roger Mudd - 2 (0.07%)
* Edmund Muskie - 2 (0.07%)
* Claude Pepper - 2 (0.07%)
* Abraham A. Ribicoff - 2 (0.07%)
* Hoyt Patrick Taylor, Jr. - 2 (0.07%)
* Leonard F. Wodcoock - 2 (0.07%)
* Bruno Agnoli - 2 (0.07%)
* Ernest Albright - 1 (0.03%)
* William A. Barrett - 1 (0.03%)
* Daniel Berrigan - 1 (0.03%)
* Philip Berrigan - 1 (0.03%)
* Julian Bond - 1 (0.03%)
* Skipper Bowles - 1 (0.03%)
* Archibald "Archie" Bunker - 1 (0.03%)
* Phillip Burton - 1 (0.03%)
* William Chappell - 1 (0.03%)
* Lawton Chiles - 1 (0.03%)
* Frank Church - 1 (0.03%)
* Robert Drinan - 1 (0.03%)
* Nick Galifianakis - 1 (0.03%)
* John Z. Goodrich - 1 (0.03%)
* Michael Griffin - 1 (0.03%)
* Martha Griffiths - 1 (0.03%)
* Charles Hamilton - 1 (0.03%)
* Patricia Harris - 1 (0.03%)
* Jim Hunt - 1 (0.03%)
* Daniel Inouye - 1 (0.03%)
* Henry M. Jackson - 1 (0.03%)
* Robery Kariss - 1 (0.03%)
* Allard K. Lowenstein - 1 (0.03%)
* Mao Zedong - 1 (0.03%)
* Eleanor McGovern - 1 (0.03%)
* Martha Beall Mitchell - 1 (0.03%)
* Ralph Nader - 1 (0.03%)
* George Norcross III - 1 (0.03%)
* Jerry Rubin - 1 (0.03%)
* Fred Seaman - 1 (0.03%)
* Joe Smith - 1 (0.03%)
* Benjamin Spock - 1 (0.03%)
* Patrick Tavolacci - 1 (0.03%)
* George Wallace - 1 (0.03%)

[http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=59902 Source]

ee also

*United States presidential election, 1972
*History of the United States Democratic Party

References

*Thompson, Hunter. "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72" (1973)
*White, Theodore. "The Making of the President 1972" (1972)

External links

* [http://politicalgraveyard.com/parties/D/1972/index.html Political Graveyard]
* [http://www.4president.org/speeches/mcgovern1972acceptance.htm McGovern's Acceptance Speech]
*The World's Largest TV Studio, TVTV Documentary [http://mediaburn.org/Video-Preview.128.0.html?&aaa=12&flagg=2&uid=4081]

sequence
prev=1968
list=Democratic National Conventions
next=1976


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