The Conservatives Hated Bush (and 7 Other Reactions to VP Choices)

Senator Obama is likely to name his running mate this week, possibly as early as tomorrow morning. So we went back into the archives of The New York Times to see the initial reaction to past VP announcements. Here's how the press covered the nominations of Vice Presidents Roosevelt, Cheney, Gore, Quayle, Bush, Agnew, Johnson and Nixon.

George Bush—Ronald Reagan's VP

July 18, 1980

reagan-bush.jpgConservatives First Recoil,
Then Line Up Behind Bush

Finally, after 16 years, the conservatives thought they had put it all together. From the outset, this had been their convention. They had spent the time, the money and the energy, and they had elected their delegates. They had fashioned a platform and drafted rules that made few concessions to the party's moderates.

But shortly after midnight last night, things changed. By a single stroke, the party's Northeast Republican establishment was resurrected, placed on the national ticket by the man on whom they had pinned their hopes. Worse yet, from their point of view, a future party leader was annointed who was a member of the Trilateral Commission, a supporter of the Federal equal rights amendment and an opponent of a constitutional ban on abortions.
* * * * *
"Governor Reagan sounded like Winston Churchill, but behaved like Neville Chamberlain," said Howard Phillips, executive director of the American Conservative Union....[But] there were indications that pragmatic politics had led conservatives to join ranks behind Mr. Bush.

"It's a winning ticket," added representative Eldon Rudd, a conservative from Arizona.

Lyndon Johnson—John Kennedy's VP

July 15, 1960

jfk-lbj.jpgChoice A Surprise
Senator Johnson was nominated on the recommendation of the Massachusetts Senator. Senator Kennedy overrode protests by labor and Northern liberals in the surprise move in naming the Senate majority leader for Vice President. The Texan's acceptance of second place was equally surprising.

Senator Kennedy, a Roman Catholic, moved boldly to win party unity and new strength below the Mason-Dixon Line by choosing the Texan, a Protestant, for his running mate...The Johnson choice was far from universally popular, but it satisfied the overwhelming majority of the delegates...The choice was particularly offensive to leaders of Americans for Democratic Action. Negro leaders were divided.
* * * * *
Senator Johnson appeared before the convention after his nomination and said that the party must unite to win in November. Thanking the convention for his selection, he brought a cheer when he said, "And I congratulate you on your decision last night."

Theodore Roosevelt—William McKinley's VP

June 22, 1900

Great Enthusiasm in the Republican Convention

Governor Roosevelt was the idol of the convention, but the idolatry was not frenzied. His speech was a model of directness and conciseness, his bearing was soldierly, dignified, and satisfactory to his most anxious friend.

The tumult over him was manifestly spontaneous, universal, and sincere. It was not overdone. His conduct plainly strengthened him in the estimation of the convention.
* * * * *
McKinley and Roosevelt were nominated upon a call of the roll, as provided by the rules. McKinley received every vote in the convention. Roosevelt received 929, one delegate not voting. The delegate who did not vote was Theodore Roosevelt.

Dan Quayle—George Bush's VP

August 17, 1988

Baby Boomer With Right Credentials
In choosing Dan Quayle as his running mate, George Bush has selected a man in his own image: pleasant, affable, conservative—as well as rich and good-looking.

quayle-bush.jpgStill, the campaign seems to be counting on some help from the differences: Senator Quayle is a generation younger than the Vice President and has the right-wing credentials that some Republicans have found lacking in Mr. Bush.

The scion of the family that owns the biggest newspaper chain in Indiana, Mr. Quayle has led the proverbial charmed life. Elected to the Senate in 1980 after only two terms in the House, he now stands to win the second-highest executive office in the United States at the age of 41. The only thing he can recall losing, he once told an interviewer, was an election at a college fraternity.
* * * * *
A key question for the party is whether Mr. Quayle can be the point man in what may be a mean campaign. And strategists also wonder about his ability to stand up against the Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee, Senator Lloyd Bentsen of Texas.

Richard Nixon—Dwight Eisenhower's VP

July 12, 1952

nixon-eisenhower.jpgEisenhower Nominated on the First Ballot; Senator Nixon Chosen as his Running Mate; General Pledges 'Total Victory' Crusade
The only potential barrier to quick action on Senator Nixon's nomination had been the desire of approximately 200 Republican women delegates to symbolize the demand of their sex for political equality by proposing a woman, Senator Smith, for the Vice Presidency. But the Maine Senator, who had gone along with the idea when it seemed there would be a field of VP candidates from whom the convention might choose, quickly let it be known she did not want to be placed in nomination if Senator Nixon was to be the only other candidate. This was announced to the convention by Mrs. Luce, the playwright and wife of Henry Luce, the publisher.

Al Gore—Bill Clinton's VP

July 10, 1992

clinton-gore.jpgClinton Selects Senator Gore As Running Mate
Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas today selected Senator Al Gore of Tennessee to join him as his Vice-Presidential running mate when he receives the Democratic nomination for President in New York next week.

In making the much-anticipated announcement on the lawn of the Governor's mansion here, Mr. Clinton emphasized Mr. Gore's experience in foreign policy and the environment. And with their wives and children arrayed behind them in the baking noonday sun, both men spoke of their commitment to family values.
* * * * *
But the wisdom of Mr. Clinton's choice was immediately questioned by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who has twice unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for President and has on several occasions offered himself as a Vice-Presidential running mate. "I have deep concerns about the ticket. It takes two wings to fly and here you have two of the same wing."

Spiro Agnew—Richard Nixon's VP

August 9, 1968

agnew-nixon.jpgEditorial: Vice-Presidential Choice
If Mr. Nixon's own nomination is readily understandable, his choice of Gov. Spiro T. Agnew of Maryland as his Vice-Presidential running mate is another triumph of the old politics—but one which is much less comprehensible or defensible. The open dissension in many delegations and the protest vote for Governor Romney of Michigan demonstrated that Mr. Agnew lacked enthusiastic support among the surprised delegates who were asked to nominate him.
* * * * *
It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that Mr. Nixon chose Mr. Agnew for reasons of party unity and campaign strategy rather than out of a responsible concern for the national interest and an eagerness to choose the ablest man available...He represents a return to the discredited tradition that a Vice President should first of all be safe and bland.

Dick Cheney—George W. Bush's VP

July 26, 2000

bush-cheney.jpgBush Names Cheney, Citing 'Integrity' and 'Experience'
As Mr. Cheney stood almost bashfully at the side of the ebullient Texas governor, Mr. Bush tacitly acknowledged the oddity of his months-long search for a vice-presidential nominee ending with the selection of the searcher himself.
* * * * *
Mr. Bush appeared to accomplish several goals at once by picking Mr. Cheney. He supplemented his own limited career in government, confined to the five and a half years that he has presided over the nation's second-largest state, with the accumulated wisdom of a man who served as chief of staff under President Gerald R. Ford and then spent a decade in the House before his appointment as the defense secretary by President George Bush, the governor's father.

And because the selection of Mr. Cheney did not on its face represent an overtly political calculation, it enabled Mr. Bush to maintain his assertion that he is someone more interested in good government than political gamesmanship, someone more deeply wedded to principles than to polls. There was no discernible electoral strategy at work: Mr. Cheney maintains homes in Texas and Wyoming, two states that Mr. Bush should easily win in November.

Since we don't yet know who their running mates will be, here's a look instead at the first time John McCain and Barack Obama made The Times...

John McCain

July 31, 1967

Start of Tragedy: Pilot Hears a Blast As He Checks Plane
john-mccain.jpg At 10:30am Saturday, Lieut. Comdr. John Sidney McCain 3d climbed aboard his A-4 Skyhawk for a mission over North Vietnam.

"I closed the canopy and started the plane and then went through the normal checks of the gauges and the settings," the 30-year-old Navy pilot recalled today. "Suddenly I felt and heard an explosion. It was either my plane or the one to the right. Flames were everywhere."

In the following moments aboard the aircraft carrier Forrestral, the 150-pound Annapolis graduate climbed out of the cockpit, stepped precariously onto the plane's three-foot-long refueling pipe and then leaped onto the burning flight deck and ran.
* * * * *
The son and grandson of two noted admirals, Commander McCain has a disarming disregard for formal military speech or style. He is wiry, prematurely gray and does not take himself too seriously.

Barack Obama

February 6, 1990

First Black Elected to Head Harvard's Law Review
obama-harvard.jpgThe Harvard Law Review, generally considered the most prestigious in the country, elected the first black president in its 104-year history today. The job is considered the highest student position at Harvard Law School.

The new president of the Review is Barack Obama, a 28-year-old graduate of Columbia University who spent four years heading a community development program for poor blacks on Chicago's South Side before enrolling in law school. His late father, Barack Obama, was a finance minister in Kenya and his mother, Ann Dunham, is an American anthropologist now doing fieldwork in Indonesia. Mr. Obama was born in Hawaii.

"The fact that I've been elected shows a lot of progress," Mr. Obama said today in an interview. "It's encouraging."

See all the previous installments of The First Time News Was Fit To Print.

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Old News: Very Early Media Coverage of the GOP Candidates

Every week, I used to wander into the New York Times archives to find the first time the paper covered various topics (like The Walkman). In honor of tonight's Iowa Caucus, we're bringing back "The First Time News Was Fit to Print." Here are the first times The Times mentioned each of the remaining GOP candidates.

Mitt Romney

February 28, 1960

A Maverick Starts a New 'Crusade'
mitt-and-george.jpgGeorge Romney feels that he has pat across the compact car. Now he is turning his missionary fervor to a campaign to reshape American political institutions.

The man who made the compact car big competition for Detroit's land yachts is crusading against bigness on an even bigger scale these days. George Romney, the almost terrifyingly earnest head of the American Motors Corporation, has moved from his conquest of the gas-guzzling dinosaur into a battle to break up the concentration of economic power embodied in giant companies and giant unions.
He speaks with equal disrespect of the ranking politicians of both major parties when it comes to their readiness to face up to what he considers the make-or-break issues in America's survival.
George Romney considers talking his wife out of a movie career his greatest sales achievement. They are shown here with their children, Mitt, Jane and Scott.

[Well, not here. This picture is from two years later, when George announced he was running for President. To see the picture referenced here, you'll have to check out the original article.]

Ron Paul

April 28, 1976

Big Victory by Bentsen Called Vital to Re-election
John B. Connally, the popular former Democratic Governor [of Texas], was credited in 1970 with pushing Mr. [Lloyd] Bentsen to victory over Mr. [George] Bush [in the Senate race]. Mr. Connally, now a Republican, helped a politically unknown gynecologist, Dr. Ron Paul, upset a liberal Democrat, Bob Gammage, in a race last month to fill the unexpired 22d Congressional District seat vacated by Democrat Bob Casey, who has been appointed to the Federal Maritime Commission.

Rick Santorum

November 7, 1990

The 1990 Elections: State by State
In an upset, Representative Doug Walgren, a seven-term Democratic Congressman from Pittsburgh, lost to a political neophyte, Richard Santorum, a 32-year-old Republican lawyer who ran on an anti-incumbent theme.

Michele Bachmann

September 24, 2006

Campaign in Crisis Mode (by Charles Baxter)
While my assignment was to write about Minnesota’s important Senate race, I think there’s more to be learned right now from the far closer contest in Minnesota’s Sixth Congressional District, which borders Minneapolis-St. Paul to the east, north and west. The race, between Michele Bachmann, the Republican, and Patty Wetterling, the Democrat, has revealed a Bush-era national trend now visible locally.
Terrorism has infected every subject and every discussion, even locally. Alarmism has become so ubiquitous in discussions of Iraq, the decline of the family and financing for Social Security and education that polarization is assured. Extremity, after all, is more newsworthy than good sense.

This outlook has the effect of trivializing most local issues — who cares about farm-price supports when radical Muslims want to make Stillwater part of the caliphate? And it ensures that the volume will always be turned up to 11 — at least until everybody begins to suffer crisis fatigue and tries to calm down.

Newt Gingrich

November 2, 1974

Divided GOP in Georgia Facing a Rout on Tuesday
In another House race, however, Republicans may be able to take some comfort. In the state's Sixth District, suburban Atlanta, the 10-term Democratic mainstay who ran unopposed in 1972, faces a strong challenge from a 31-year-old history professor, Newt Gingrich. Although Mr. Flynt is favored, he is facing some difficulty because he is now running in a redrawn district in which his strength has not yet been tested.

[Note: Gingrich narrowly lost.]

Rick Perry

November 8, 1990

Farm Chief's Foe Has the Last Laugh
The Texas Agriculture Commissioner with the Borscht Belt sense of humor is out. Jim Hightower, a two-term incumbent known as an advocate of enlightened farming as well as one of the funniest figures in American politics, was defeated Tuesday by Rick Perry, a 40-year-old rancher and farmer.
Katie Dickie, Mr. Perry's press secretary, said today that her candidate "took a lot of angry farmers, banded them together, raised money in places like Garden City, Sterling City, the small places all across Texas, East Texas and West Texas."

She added, "Rick wants to refocus the department on mainstream agriculture."

Jon M. Huntsman, Jr.

July 22, 1998

Nova of Canada to Purchase Huntsman Styrene Business
The Nova Corporation of Canada will acquire the bulk of the styrene operations of the Huntsman Corporation for $860 million (United States) in cash and preferred stock, the companies announced yesterday.
For Huntsman, of Salt Lake City, the largest privately held chemical company in the United States, the deal represents a chance to pay down debt and to increase funds to homeless shelters and other charities that its ownership family has long supported.

In particular, it will let Huntsman funnel more than $100 million into research on genetic predispositions to cancer. Jon M. Huntsman [the candidate's father], the company's chairman, lost both his parents to cancer and has had two bouts with the disease himself.
Under the terms of yesterday's deal, Huntsman will receive $625 million in cash, and $235 million of nonvoting preferred shares, which can be converted to a maximum of 10 million common shares of Nova stock in two years. Nova will also assume $60 million of Huntsman's debt. After the deal, Huntsman will become Nova's largest shareholder.

Mr. Huntsman expects the two companies to combine some purchasing operations and to seek ways to combine product lines and operations. His son, Jon M. Hunstman Jr., will sit on Nova's board.

More First Mentions Worth Mentioning...

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See all the previous installments of The First Time News Was Fit To Print
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10 Headlines from 9/11/01

We spent the summer of 2001 chastising Gary Condit, mourning Mr. Belvedere, and pardoning Microsoft. But on the second Tuesday of September, a mere twenty months after widespread wisecracks about the world ending on Y2K, it felt like the world did. I've been reading through the online archives of The New York Times from September 11, 2001, to see what was in the news the morning of the attacks. Here are some of the headlines:

1. Taliban Suicide Bombers Target Deposed Afghan Leaders

"If the would-be assassins were indeed Arabs, as the United Front asserted, the fact would lend credibility to those who contend that foreigners, including Osama bin Laden, are playing an ever bigger decision-making role among the Taliban."

2. Washington: Rumsfeld Attacks Bureaucracy

"Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said that he was declaring war on bureaucracy in the Pentagon and that he wanted to combine some civilian and military staffs, cut duplication in the military services and shift some jobs to the private sector."

3. Senator Joe Biden attacks President Bush on Missile Defense

"Mr. Biden has fastened onto missile defense as the centerpiece of his critique of Bush foreign policy. In part, that is because the system is almost the sole focus of the administration's foreign policy... 'Are we willing to end four decades of arms control agreements, and go it alone, a kind of bully nation, sometimes a little wrongheaded, but ready to make unilateral decisions in what we perceive to be our self-interest?' Mr. Biden said in his speech at the National Press Club."

4. Michael Jordan to Unretire (Again)?

"Jordan is either getting ready to return to the N.B.A. at the age of 38 or he is setting up the sports world for a letdown of legendary proportion. Either way, the drama builds. Speaking with three reporters, Jordan said he was less than 10 days away from a news conference in Washington announcing his decision."

5. Grand Jury Declines Request For Inquiry into Condit Matter

"A grand jury has rejected a flight attendant's request that it investigate her complaint that Representative Gary A. Condit obstructed justice by asking her to sign an affidavit falsely stating that they did not have an affair....Anne Marie Smith, 40, said that she and Mr. Condit had a 10-month romance and that his intermediaries tried to get her to sign an affidavit denying the affair....Ms. Smith's link with Mr. Condit became public after the disappearance in Washington of Chandra Ann Levy, a 24-year-old government intern from Modesto, on May 1. Mr. Condit, 53, is not considered a suspect in the disappearance, but he acknowledged having had a relationship with Ms. Levy."

6. Mayoral Candidates Crisscross City Seeking Last Few Votes

"The six major candidates running to succeed Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani ranged across the city yesterday in the final burst of politicking before the polls open today. Dodging late summer downpours, the candidates hit neighborhoods where they thought they might be able to eek out just a few more votes. Crossing and crisscrossing the boroughs -- sometimes missing one anothers' campaigns by just minutes -- it seemed as though the six candidates were out to shake every hand in the city."

7. Broncos Win Game, Lose Receiver

"The New York Giants did not upset the festive Denver atmosphere as the Broncos christened their noisy new home with a loud and thorough 31-20 rout. The game's outcome seem to hinge on a gruesome injury to Denver's Pro Bowl wide receiver Ed McCaffrey, who broke his lower left leg early in the third quarter."

8. Disco Near Auschwitz to Close

"The owner of a building now used as a disco but once a tannery where Nazis sorted the luggage and clothes of Jews at Auschwitz said he would not renew the club's lease when it expires in November."

9. U.S. Blacklists Paramilitaries in Colombia

"Being put on the State Department list of terrorist groups means that financial support for the organization is illegal. The action also makes it easier for the United States to seize assets, an important factor because investigators here estimate that the paramilitary groups have hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign bank accounts."

10. Thomas Friedman on Terror in Israel

"You drive south...and there is another long concrete wall blocking snipers from hitting Gilo, but also sealing in Gilo. There are Hebrew posters all over this wall that read: 'The New Middle East.' Some Israeli coffee shops now have security guards at the door to deter suicide bombers."

See previous installments of 'The First Time News Was Fit To Print.'


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