The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Sunday, April 17, 2005

Only the wealthy should run for Senate: a classic from Richard Nixon

In a manner of speaking.

Mooching around the Online Speech Bank - a useful resource - I pull up Nixon's Checkers Speech of September 23 1952.

They don't write 'em like that any more: by my count, some 4,698 words, enough for a Times Magazine cover story.

Among interesting leads, this:
Mr. Mitchell, the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, made this statement that if a man couldn't afford to be in the United States Senate, he shouldn't run for the Senate.

Stephen A Mitchell, that is. It was a dumb thing to say, if he said it, given that it gave Nixon the chance to point out that Adlai Stevenson wasn't exactly a working-class guy.

But I can't find the original quote anywhere, surprising for such a striking statement.

There was more: according to this,
Mitchell reportedly said “security risks are like parking violators.”

Was this quote genuine, too? One begins to suspect dirty tricks...

Mitchell was apparently chosen as DNC chairman against Cook County boss Jacob Arvey's 'recommendation': the machine's choice was to stick with Frank McKinney; Stevenson wanted to look clean.

Mitchell anecdotage forms part of the tale of Strom Thurmond's write-in campaign for the US Senate in the 1954 general election: the national party's choice was hack Edgar Brown.

Failing to learn from 1952, Mitchell offered a zinger:
National Democratic Chairman Stephen A. Mitchell even suggested that South Carolina didn’t have enough literate voters to win a statewide write-in election. The Thurmond campaign seized that statement and spread it widely among insulted South Carolinians.

Let's salute that great pick by Adlai: than whom no more graceful or effective serial loser had ever been chosen for the top job - since Thomas Dewey, probably.


A photo of Mitchell meeting various Negroes attending a Democratic "grass roots" conference called by the exquisitely regular William Dawson (March 25).

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