Barry Goldwater 1958 to 1960

After the Republican debacle in the 1958 midterm elections, Barry Goldwater was the most sought after speaker at all Republican functions.  He traveled in every state and spoke his political philosophy.  To this day his 1960 book, The Conscience of a Conservative, stands as a primer for conservative action.  There was a generation of people eager to find a new direction for the Republican Party.  Nevertheless,  President Eisenhower and most party regulars  favored Vice President Richard Nixon.  Nixon held a series of  private meetings with the Senator Goldwater.  Nixon assured the Senator that he would try to lead the Party into Goldwater’s brand of Conservatism.  Then Nixon shocked and disappointed conservatives by traveling to New York for his Compact of Fifth Avenue with Governor Nelson Rockefeller.   There Nixon agreed to most of the Governor’s ideas.

If Rockefeller had gone to Washington, the visit would have attracted little attention.  The fact that Nixon had gone to New York was interpreted as a gesture of appeasement if not capitulation.   At the 1960 Republican Convention Governor Paul Fannin from Arizona put Goldwater’s name in for the Presidential Nomination.  Delegates from Texas and South Carolina made seconding speeches.  There was an enthusiastic  demonstration.  Even so, demonstrations seem mostly for losers.  Barry Goldwater addressed the convention with the following words.  “I release my delegates from their pledge to me, and, while I am not a delegate, I would suggest they give these votes to Richard Nixon.”

Nixon had to make some concessions to the Eastern Liberal Establishment.  However, he was not frank with  Senator Goldwater.   Goldwater campaigned for Nixon especially to Conservative audiences.   He stated that Nixon was far more preferable than Senator Kennedy.  He always had his doubts about Nixon’s personal honesty.  The 1960 Compact of Fifth Avenue increased his concerns.


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