Thursday, November 17, 2011

Romney in '68

In 1966 Gallup polls there was a Romney at the top of the pack.  Not Mitt obviously, but his father George.  He was ahead of the ex-vice president Richard Nixon by almost 10 points and was considered a shoo in for the Republican nomination for presidency.  With Johnson not running for reelection and the Kennedy's out of the picture, the Republican nominee would sail to the presidency.  So why didn't he defeat Nixon for the nomination?  It appears that Mitt and George have something in common .. their inability to adhere to a political position.

George Romney was the Governor of Michigan and a successful businessman.  He was popular and handsome but had a tendency to go off on tangents.  Also, his Mormon religious affiliation was an issue with a largely Protestant populace.  The more Americans got to know Romney, the more Nixon gained in the polls.  Nixon was not popular but he was a known entity.  It wasn't until an old interview with Romney was released that he plummeted.  He was asked by a Michigan newspaper reporter about why his opinion on the Vietnam War had change.  He was pro war until he flipped to anti-war.  He explained his initial support of the war as being "brain washed" by the American military.  He was a staunch anti-war candidate from there on end.  It wasn't the anti-war stance that sank him, but the use of the term "brain washed."  Both Nixon and the Democrats road this to Romney's easy defeat in the primaries.  You could say it went viral in an era prior to the Internet.

Romney came in fifth in the primaries and polled 40% below Nixon by November.  At the convention, he refused to give his delegates over to Nixon.  This is something that Nixon never forgot.  If not for this move, Romney may have been VP over Agnew and Ford and may have eventually been president.

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