President Richard M. Nixon: 1968 Republican Convention

About the 1968 Republican Convention where future President Richard Nixon received the nomination for President.

August 5, 1968...

As the convention assembled, the liberal Nelson Rockefeller and the reactionary Ronald Reagan tried desperately to chip enough delegates away from Nixon's "centrist" candidacy to prevent his nomination on the 1st ballot. Reagan appeared to be making some headway among Southern delegates formally committed to Nixon, until Nixon promised Sen. J. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina and other influential Southerners that he would choose a conservative as his running mate. By the time the balloting had begun, it was clear to everyone that Nixon had the nomination sewn up. The Republican delegates seemed ready to agree with the sentiments of Maryland Governor Spiro T. Agnew, who had placed Nixon's name in nomination: "When a nation is in crisis and history speaks firmly to that nation, it needs a man to match the time. You don't create such a man; you don't discover such a man-you recognize such a man."

The only excitement remaining at the convention was Nixon's choice of a running mate. In making that decision, the candidate told his advisers that he wanted to avoid a "super star" who might outshine him in the campaign ahead. In selecting Spiro Agnew, Nixon succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. Press and public alike were aghast at the choice of the little-known and inexperienced Maryland governor. Agnew's only claim to fame was a head-line-making tirade-directed at representatives of the Baltimore black community-in which he lambasted the "ready-mix, instantaneous, circuit-riding, Hanoi-visiting, caterwauling, riot-inciting, burn-America-down type of leaders." Even Agnew seemed surprised that Nixon had selected him. "I stand here with a deep sense of the improbability of this moment," he said when he formally accepted the nomination for the Vice-Presidency.

In the face of widespread criticism, Nixon eloquently defended his choice of Agnew. "There is a mysticism about men," he said. "There is a quiet confidence. You look a man in the eye and you know he's got it....Brains. This guy has got it. If he doesn't, Nixon has made a bum choice."

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