Writings on Nixon’s 1968 Campaign



"When the reporter was younger, he might have said, “Nixon did not rise again; they raised him; if a New Nixon did not exist, they would have had to invent him.” But the reporter was older now—presumably he knew more about the limits of the ruling class for inventing what they needed; he had learned how little talent or patience they had. Yes, at a certain point they might have decided, some of them at any rate, to dress Richard Nixon for the part again, but no one but Nixon had been able to get himself up from the political deathbed to which his failure in California [in 1962] had consigned him."
—Norman Mailer, from Miami and the Siege of Chicago: An Informal History of the Republican and Democratic Conventions of 1968

"America still saw him as the 1960 Nixon. If he were to come at the people again, as candidate, it would have to be as something new; not this scarred, discarded figure from the past… Television was the only answer… But not just any kind of television. An uncommitted camera could do irreparable harm. His television would have to be controlled. He would need experts… men who knew television as a weapon: from broadest concept to most technical detail. This would be Richard Nixon, the leader, returning from exile. Perhaps not beloved, but respected. Firm but not harsh; just but compassionate. With flashes of warmth spaced evenly throughout."
—Joe McGinniss, from The Selling of the President 1968

 

"This was something Richard Nixon, with his gift for looking below social surfaces to see and exploit the subterranean truths that roiled underneath, understood: the future belonged to the politician who could tap the ambivalence—the nameless dread, the urge to make it all go away."
—Rick Perlstein, from Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America

"Perhaps the best place to find out about the real coalition being forged by Nixon in 1968 was at the “control tower” of the effort—John Mitchell’s brain trust at 445 Park Avenue, just across the street from the formal headquarters at 450 Park. There, in a cubbyhole next to Mitchell’s office, a brilliant young lawyer named Kevin Phillips served as the house expert on ethnic voting patterns… he was in charge of his own specialty, which as he bluntly puts it is “the whole secret of politics — knowing who hates who."
—Garry Wills, from Nixon Agonistes: The Crisis of the Self-Made Man