Robert Kennedy and Richard Nixon

This Day in UCSF History: Nixon v. Kennedy

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Originally published in Synapse on April 13, 1968.

Kennedy’s Magic

By Howard Darvey

It was a clear and sunny day in Los Angeles on March 25. I was at San Fernando Valley State College along with about 15,000 other people awaiting the arrival of Robert Kennedy.

The air at San Fernando Valley State was filled with strange excitement. At about 10:15 that morning Kennedy arrived in the area. It wasn’t until 10:30 that he was able to make his way to the speaker’s podium.

The crowd seemed to swarm upon him as if he were a side of beef in a den of starving lions. I think these students are starving. They are starving for a president that they can identify with.

They are starving for someone with an open mind that will at least listen to their problems. They are starving for someone that they can respect and who will restore dignity to the office of President of the United States.

Before I was lucky enough to see Kennedy in person, I supported Senator Eugene McCarthy. I am now committed to Mr. Kennedy.

I am committed not because I agree with everything that he says. I am committed because I was captured by his magic. He is like a traveling medicine man who sells an elixir; guaranteed to cure despair and apathy.

He is like a giant magnet that possesses such a strong field that people will completely disregard each other in order to shake his hand or even to touch him. This is what America needs — young dynamic leadership.

The Republicans are going to nominate Nixon. The Democrats may nominate Johnson, McCarthy, or Kennedy. Are you going to vote for the lesser of two evils in the national presidential elections?

This can be avoided by registering in the Democratic Party as soon as possible and voting in the California primaries in June.

I vote for Kennedy. I believe he is the only good choice that can defeat Lyndon B. Johnson and Nixon both.

It is imperative that Kennedy wins because you never know when Canada will start restricting immigration from the United States.

Nixon’s Assets

By Dave Bomar

Having run unopposed in two primaries, now, Richard Nixon would have to be considered the favorite to capture the Republican Presidential nomination.

Although he is no ideological purist, he has assets that should go over well with Republicans, and in particular an electorate grown suddenly dissatisfied with the Great Society.

These assets include experience, a fundamental belief in orderly constitutional government (far from unimportant in view of increasing domestic disorder), and a reputation for standing fast in the face of adversity (remember the famous “kitchen debate” with Khrushchev following the Captive Nations Resolution?).

Some consider it a political liability that Nixon was instrumental in nailing Alger Hiss, but the kind of people who would hold this against him are probably not numerous in the Republican Party and are more likely relegated to the fever-swamps of far-out left-wingism.

He is facetiously referred to as “everyone’s second choice and nobody’s first,” but is he not a candidate that all Republicans can live with?

Although he does not have the Kennedy “magic” (which is perhaps the kind of money that can rent Market Street headquarters the size of Bobby’s), he will undoubtedly be a formidable, contender in Miami.

A formidable dark horse is likely to be none other than Ronald Reagan. Some commentators point out that public opinion polls show Nixon with a commanding lead, but the force of public opinion does not insure nomination.

Governor Reagan probably has the support of more Republican county chairmen across the country than any other candidate; and why should he not, considering the fact that he has made speech after fundraising speech across the country.

The coffers of many a county organization are ready to do battle thanks to Governor Reagan’s efforts.

If Republican primary candidates can continue to refrain from cutting each other to pieces as they have done, in the past it should be a very good year.

As long as Rockefeller doesn’t try to pull a last-minute Scranton (a Goldwater veto precludes this possibility), Republican congressional gains should be enough to hold the line against even a Democratic president.

If Republican political futures were sold on the market, it would be a good idea to buy them, for they are going to go up.