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Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)

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it is Nixon himself who represents that dark, venal and incurably violent side of the American character almost every other country in the world has learned to fear and despise,” Thompson wrote the month before the 1972 vote. Each of those demographics can be extrapolated to determine which candidate they might vote for — if they vote at all — and which messages might reach them if they cared to listen. He stayed out of the public eye, and he had all the money he needed to hire people to work on direct mail and everybody got a letter tailored to their own interests and their own groove, and I think their negative TV spots were effective in painting a distorted picture of me. I think, as a matter of fact, he’s the kind of guy that’s always forcing the party to the right and into positions that really turn off more people than he brings with him.

I spent about two weeks in Washington talking to 15 or 20 of the key people in the campaign, and I was surprised at the lack of any kind of consensus – no hard figures or any kind of real analysis – except the kind of things that McGovern said in his interviews which were mainly speculation. If the election had been close Illinois would have been critical, and with Daley coming around there was at least a possibility that Illinois would go for McGovern. McGovern: Well, see, nobody’ll ever know that for sure, ’cause those records are never gonna be available. Despite the unconventional style, the book is still considered a hallmark of campaign journalism and helped to launch Thompson's role as a popular political observer.They couldn’t figure out… there was nothing they could do… no issue they could manufacture, no act that they could commit… or anything they could say… that would change people’s minds on the question of McGovern’s competence to get anything done, regardless of what he wanted to get done. What Nixon did was pick up a tremendous amount of mainly young, not necessarily liberal Democrats – but young, sort of educated, relatively sophisticated voters who would have stayed with McGovern, according to the polls… according to the answers they gave the poll-takers, if it had not been for the Eagleton disaster. and accurately and insightfully illustrates their place in not only the election, but in America during the early 1970's. HST: When you say perceive you imply the difference between what the candidate is and the way the public or the voters see him.

I think maybe that might have helped to offset some of the negatives we got on the Eagleton thing… Another problem: There was a feeling on the part of a lot of the staff that after Miami there wasn’t the central staff direction that should have been. They were trying to be… first they were trying to be fair with McGovern and, second, they were trying to use what they had to get more – which is a normal journalistic kind of procedure. His incisive wit is promently displayed and his knack of being in the right place (or the wrong in some cases) gives him the chance to view certain activities from a perspective that most people don't get a chance to see. Eagleton struck me as being a cheap hack and … he still does, you know, he strikes me as being a useless little bastard… When I went up to St.And then there were some staff squabbles that the press spotlighted, which gave the impression of confusion and disarray and lack of direction, and I think that hurt. But I don’t think that the kind of standard-brand Democrat that he came to be – or that he actually was all along, and finally came out and admitted he was toward the end, more by his actions than by what he said – I’m not sure that kind of person is ever going to win a presidential campaign again. After Anderson had broken the story both on the radio and in his column… his syndicated column… he got desperate for the records because he knew he was going to be challenged. All they wanted in the White House was a man who would leave them alone and do anything necessary to bring calmness back into their lives – even if it meant turning the whole state of Nevada into a concentration camp for hippies, niggers, dope fiends, do-gooders, and anyone else who might threaten the status quo. I was standing in the cockpit with a joint in one hand and a glass of Jack Daniel’s in the other as we boomed off the runway and up… up… up… into the cold black emptiness of a Monday night sky three miles above Southern California.

What was once the natural kind of constituency for that kind of person – the Stevenson constituency, the traditional liberal – has lost faith, I think, in everything that Liberalism was supposed to stand for.Which is probably why I made that disastrous bet, although there wasn’t a reporter in the press corps who thought that George would lose by more than ten points… except Joe Alsop; he said McGovern wouldn’t get more than 40% of the vote. out here at the far end of Geary Street: This is the end of the line, for buses and everything else, the western edge of America. Pat said they spent a month just wringing their hands and tearing their hair trying to figure out how to overcome the Eagleton disaster. He had told a group of reporters who flew down to talk with him at Henry Kimmel man’s house in the Virgin Islands that he wasn’t sure if the two wings of the party could be put back together…. Ed: Sioux Falls, excuse me, and that you were actually standing in the cockpit with a joint in one hand and a glass of Jack Daniel’s in the other.

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