Senator George McGovern (right) and running mate Senator Thomas Eagleton // Getty
Senator George McGovern (right) and running mate Senator Thomas Eagleton // Getty

6 Crazy Things That Happened During the 1972 New Hampshire Primaries

Senator George McGovern (right) and running mate Senator Thomas Eagleton // Getty
Senator George McGovern (right) and running mate Senator Thomas Eagleton // Getty

The political world has once again invaded New Hampshire, the second state to hold primary elections and the frequent site of campaign endings and comebacks. As colorful as this cycle has been, it would take a lot of Donald Trump Twitter feuds or rediscovered Bernie Sanders spoken-word reggae records to make either party’s primary as bizarre and nasty as the one the Democrats endured in the Granite State in 1972.

Two candidates campaigned in the state, senators George McGovern of South Dakota and Edmund Muskie of Maine, who was the Democrats’ vice presidential candidate in the last election and the frontrunner. Using the then-novel tactic of dedicating most of his resources to early-voting states, McGovern had a surprisingly strong showing in the Iowa caucuses, gaining 22.6 percent of the vote to Muskie’s 35.5. In a common dynamic, one candidate, McGovern, was cheered by liberals and activists while another, Muskie, was favored to win blue-collar, timecard-punching Democrats. But not everything about the primary was common. Here are six crazy things that happened.

1. McGovern Intercepted Factory Workers before Their Shifts.

Known for his impassioned speeches against the Vietnam War, McGovern had a reputation as a “peace candidate.” To broaden his support to blue-collar voters, he campaigned outside New Hampshire’s shoe, textile, and electronics factories. Gary Hart, his campaign manager and a future senator (who would go on to his own presidential primary debacle), recalls that McGovern and his staff arrived as early as 5:30 in the frigid morning, greeting the first shift. According to Hart’s book, Right from the Start: A Chronicle of the McGovern Campaign, the senator shook hands and robotically reiterated two sentences to each incoming worker: “Hello, I’m George McGovern. I’m running for president and I’d like your help.” They would repeat the routine when shifts changed in the afternoon.

2. A (Likely) Fake Letter to a Newspaper Claimed Muskie’s Staff Used a Racial Slur.

New Hampshire’s largest newspaper, the Manchester Union Leader practiced “a style of knife-and-kill journalism that went out of fashion a century ago,” writes political reporter Theodore H. White in his book The Making of the President 1972. Publisher William Loeb was a staunch conservative who often put editorials on the front page and savaged Democrats and moderate Republicans. (John F. Kennedy was “the No. 1 liar in the U.S.A.” and Dwight Eisenhower a “stinking hypocrite.”)

The Union Leader received a handwritten letter, full of spelling errors and supposedly written by Paul Morrison of Deerfield Beach, Florida. “Morrison” said he approached Muskie at a campaign event and asked how the senator could understand the problems of African-Americans given the ethnic makeup of Maine. A staffer supposedly said, “[W]e don’t have blacks but we have Cannocks [sic],” meaning Canuck, a slur for people of Canadian (particularly French-Canadian) ancestry. Muskie, the letter claimed, laughed and said, “Come to New England and see.” On February 24, the newspaper published the letter with an introduction announcing, “We have always known that Senator Muskie was a hypocrite. But we never expected to have it so clearly revealed.” It torpedoed Muskie’s standing among New Hampshire’s large Canadian-American population.

The letter was actually written by Ken W. Clawson, President Richard Nixon’s deputy director of communications, as part of a stealth campaign against Nixon’s political adversaries. In All the President’s Men, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein claim that Clawson, though married, had badgered their coworker, Washington Post staff writer Marilyn Berger, for a date. Invited up to her apartment for a single drink, Clawson allegedly bragged that he’d written “the Canuck letter.” He would deny it to Woodward and Bernstein when they readied a bombshell report on Nixon’s “dirty tricks” in October of that year.

3. The Paper Then Went After Muskie’s Wife.

The following day, under the headline “Big Daddy’s Jane,” the Union Leader published accusations that Muskie’s wife, Jane, drank, smoked and used off-color language on the campaign bus. According to The Boys on the Bus: Riding With the Campaign Press Corps by Timothy Crouse, reports of Jane Muskie’s consumption habits and potty mouth were first mentioned in Women’s Wear Daily and then repeated in Newsweek and the Union Leader, becoming more vicious with every iteration.

4. Muskie Broke Down in Front of the Newspaper’s Offices.

In a now-infamous scene, Muskie appeared in front of the paper’s headquarters as snowflakes fell on February 26, speaking from the back of a rented flatbed truck. “By attacking me and by attacking my wife, [Loeb] has proved himself to be a gutless coward,” he declared. “Maybe I said all I should on that. It’s fortunate for him that he is not on this platform beside me. A good woman…”

Several newspapers reported that Muskie then began crying. He later said the facial dampness was due to melting snow. “Whether it was a choke, or a cry, or a sobbing — there was Edmund Muskie,” wrote White in The Making of the President, 1972, “a week before the primary, front page on the nation’s newspapers and carried on television, with snow falling on his curly hair … his voice breaking, emotion sweeping him.”

After the election, the senator blamed the hectic campaign schedule that had been peppered with flights to Washington for votes. “I’m tough physically but no one could do that,” he told White. “It changed people’s minds about me, what kind of guy I was. They were looking for a strong, steady man and here I was, weak.” His campaign never recovered.

5. Hunter S. Thompson Jokingly Accused Muskie of Being High on Psychedelics.

Hunter S. Thompson, covering the campaign for Rolling Stone, used the flatbed breakdown as a jumping-off point for a satirical article alleging that the senator was addicted to the psychedelic drug ibogaine. Thompson had a particular loathing for Muskie, likening him to a “vicious 200-pound water rat.” Thompson reported the “addiction” in April to see if his fellows in the press would run with it.

6. A Reporter Cussed Out Muskie and His Staff.

Even though he left with more of the state’s delegates than McGovern, the New Hampshire vote was seen as a setback for Muskie. As the frontrunner and senator from a neighboring state, he was expected to win heavily. The next day, Muskie held a press conference in “the dingy ballroom” of a Manchester hotel, recalls Crouse in The Boys on the Bus. Of course, reporters shelled him with questions about how the underwhelming results would affect his prospects.

“I can’t tell you that,” said the frustrated senator, who would bow out in April. “You’ll tell me and you’ll tell the rest of the country because you interpret this victory. The press conference today is my only chance to interpret it, but you’ll probably even misinterpret that.”

After the conference, Martin Nolan of the Boston Globe accosted Muskie and his aides in a profanity-laced tirade (for which he later apologized). “I’ve taken three and a half years of this kind of s--- from Nixon and those people,” he shouted, “and I’m not gonna take it from you pricks.”

Muskie, probably feeling like the Rodney Dangerfield of politics at that point, responded “Well, Marty, I guess you’re right.”

10 Things to Remember About Memorial Day

Memorial Day is much more than just a three-day weekend and a chance to get the year's first sunburn. Here's a handy 10-pack of facts to give the holiday some perspective.


Memorial Day was a response to the unprecedented carnage of the Civil War, in which some 620,000 soldiers on both sides died. The loss of life and its effect on communities throughout the country led to spontaneous commemorations of the dead:

• In 1864, women from Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, put flowers on the graves of their dead from the just-fought Battle of Gettysburg. The next year, a group of women decorated the graves of soldiers buried in a Vicksburg, Mississippi, cemetery.

• In April 1866, women from Columbus, Mississippi, laid flowers on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers. In the same month, in Carbondale, Illinois, 219 Civil War veterans marched through town in memory of the fallen to Woodlawn Cemetery, where Union hero Major General John A. Logan delivered the principal address. The ceremony gave Carbondale its claim to the first organized, community-wide Memorial Day observance.

• Waterloo, New York began holding an annual community service on May 5, 1866. Although many towns claimed the title, it was Waterloo that won congressional recognition as the "birthplace of Memorial Day."


General Logan, the speaker at the Carbondale gathering, also was commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans. On May 5, 1868, he issued General Orders No. 11, which set aside May 30, 1868 "for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion."

The orders expressed hope that the observance would be "kept up from year to year while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades."


The holiday was long known as Decoration Day for the practice of decorating graves with flowers, wreaths, and flags. The name Memorial Day goes back to 1882, but the older name didn't disappear until after World War II. Federal law declared "Memorial Day" the official name in 1967.


Calling Memorial Day a "national holiday" is a bit of a misnomer. While there are 10 federal holidays created by Congress—including Memorial Day—they apply only to Federal employees and the District of Columbia. Federal Memorial Day, established in 1888, allowed Civil War veterans, many of whom were drawing a government paycheck, to honor their fallen comrades without being docked a day's pay.

For the rest of us, our holidays were enacted state by state. New York was the first state to designate Memorial Day a legal holiday, in 1873. Most Northern states had followed suit by the 1890s. The states of the former Confederacy were unenthusiastic about a holiday memorializing those who, in General Logan's words, "united to suppress the late rebellion." The South didn't adopt the May 30 Memorial Day until after World War I, by which time its purpose had been broadened to include those who died in all the country's wars.

In 1971, the Monday Holiday Law shifted Memorial Day from May 30 to the last Monday of the month.


James Garfield
Edward Gooch, Getty Images

On May 30, 1868, President Ulysses S. Grant presided over the first Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery—which, until 1864, was Confederate General Robert E. Lee's plantation.

Some 5000 people attended on a spring day which, The New York Times reported, was "somewhat too warm for comfort." The principal speaker was James A. Garfield, a Civil War general, Republican congressman from Ohio and future president.

"I am oppressed with a sense of the impropriety of uttering words on this occasion," Garfield began, and then continued to utter them. "If silence is ever golden, it must be beside the graves of fifteen-thousand men, whose lives were more significant than speech, and whose death was a poem the music of which can never be sung." It went on like that for pages and pages.

As the songs, speeches and sermons ended, the participants helped to decorate the graves of the Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery.


"Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God." That is the inscription on the Tomb of the Unknowns, established at Arlington National Cemetery to inter the remains of the first Unknown Soldier, a World War I fighter, on November 11, 1921. Unknown soldiers from World War II and the Korean War subsequently were interred in the tomb on Memorial Day 1958.

An emotional President Ronald Reagan presided over the interment of six bones, the remains of an unidentified Vietnam War soldier, on November 28, 1984. Fourteen years later, those remains were disinterred, no longer unknown. Spurred by an investigation by CBS News, the defense department removed the remains from the Tomb of the Unknowns for DNA testing.

The once-unknown fighter was Air Force pilot Lieutenant Michael Joseph Blassie, whose jet crashed in South Vietnam in 1972. "The CBS investigation suggested that the military review board that had changed the designation on Lt. Blassie's remains to 'unknown' did so under pressure from veterans' groups to honor a casualty from the Vietnam War," The New York Times reported in 1998.

Lieutenant Blassie was reburied near his hometown of St. Louis. His crypt at Arlington remains permanently empty.


Rolling Thunder members and motocyclists wait for the 'Blessing of the Bikes' to start at at the Washington National Cathedral, May 26, 2017 in Washington, DC

On Memorial Day weekend in 1988, 2500 motorcyclists rode into Washington, D.C. for the first Rolling Thunder rally to draw attention to Vietnam War soldiers still missing in action or prisoners of war. By 2002, the ride had swelled to 300,000 bikers, many of them veterans. There may have been a half-million participants in 2005, in what organizers bluntly call "a demonstration—not a parade."

A national veterans rights group, Rolling Thunder takes its name from the B-52 carpet-bombing runs during the war in Vietnam.


General Orders No. 11 stated that "in this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed," but over time several customs and symbols became associated with the holiday.

• It is customary on Memorial Day to fly the flag at half staff until noon, and then raise it to the top of the staff until sunset.

• Taps, the 24-note bugle call, is played at all military funerals and memorial services. It originated in 1862 when Union General Dan Butterfield "grew tired of the 'lights out' call sounded at the end of each day," according to The Washington Post. Together with the brigade bugler, Butterfield made some changes to the tune.

Not long after, the melody was used at a burial for the first time when a battery commander ordered it played in lieu of the customary three rifle volleys over the grave. The battery was so close to enemy lines, and the commander was worried the shots would spark renewed fighting.

• The World War I poem "In Flanders Fields," by John McCrea, inspired the Memorial Day custom of wearing red artificial poppies. In 1915, a Georgia teacher and volunteer war worker named Moina Michael began a campaign to make the poppy a symbol of tribute to veterans and for "keeping the faith with all who died." The sale of poppies has supported the work of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.


Several Southern states continue to set aside a day for honoring the Confederate dead, which is usually called Confederate Memorial Day. It's on the fourth Monday in April in Alabama, April 26 in Georgia, June 3 in Louisiana and Tennessee, the last Monday in April in Mississippi, May 10 in North and South Carolina, January 19 in Texas, and the last Monday in May in Virginia.


Ricky Parada sits at the grave of his little brother Cpl. Nicolas D. Paradarodriguez who was killed in Afghanistan, at Section 60 on Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery on May 28, 2012 in Arlington, Virginia
Mark Wilson, Getty Images

No question that Memorial Day is a solemn event. Still, don't feel too guilty about doing something frivolous (like having barbecue) over the weekend. After all, you weren't the one who instituted the Indianapolis 500 on May 30, 1911. That credit goes to Indianapolis businessman Carl Fisher. The winning driver that day was Ray Harroun, who averaged 74.6 mph and completed the race in 6 hours and 42 minutes.

Gravitas returned on May 30, 1922, when the Lincoln Memorial was dedicated. Supreme Court Chief Justice (and former president) William Howard Taft dedicated the monument before a crowd of 50,000 people, segregated by race, and which included a row of Union and Confederate veterans. Also attending was Lincoln's surviving son, Robert Todd Lincoln.

In 2000, Congress established a National Moment of Remembrance, which asks Americans to pause for one minute at 3 p.m. in an act of national unity. The time was chosen because 3 p.m. "is the time when most Americans are enjoying their freedoms on the national holiday."

This post originally appeared in 2008.

Keystone/Getty Images
5 Things You Might Not Know About Henry Kissinger
Keystone/Getty Images
Keystone/Getty Images

You probably know Henry Kissinger as a Nobel Peace Prize winner and former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State. Let’s take a look at five things you might not know about the German-born political scientist and diplomat.


In 1973, Henry Kissinger was engaged in a discussion of trade with Mao Zedong when the chairman abruptly changed the subject by saying, “We [China] don't have much. What we have in excess is women. So if you want them we can give a few of those to you, some tens of thousands.”

Kissinger sidestepped this bizarre offer and changed the subject, but Mao later returned to the subject by jokingly asking, “Do you want our Chinese women? We can give you 10 million.”

This time Kissinger diplomatically replied, “It is such a novel proposition. We will have to study it.”

Other Chinese officials in the room pointed out that Mao’s attitudes toward women would cause quite a stir if the press got their hands on these quotes, so Mao apologized to his female interpreter and talked Kissinger into having the comments removed from the records of the meeting.


Here’s a riddle that’s been bugging film buffs for decades: who was the basis for the title character in Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove? For years many observers thought that Kissinger might have inspired Peter Sellers’s memorable performance. Blame it on the accent and the glasses. Even though Kissinger was still a relatively obscure Harvard professor when the film premiered in 1964, the rumor that Kubrick modeled the character on him just wouldn't die.

Kubrick did what he could to dispel this notion before his death, saying, “I think this is slightly unfair to Kissinger ... It was unintentional. Neither Peter nor I had ever seen Kissinger before the film was shot.” Most observers now think that Dr. Strangelove was actually a distorted version of Herman Kahn, an eccentric nuclear strategist for the RAND Corporation.


Even in his youth, Kissinger didn’t quite fit the bill of a matinee idol, but he has always been a hit with the ladies. A 1972 poll of Playboy bunnies selected Kissinger as the man with whom Hef’s ladies would most like to go out on a date. He also had a string of celebrity girlfriends in his younger days, including Diane Sawyer, Candice Bergen, Jill St. John, Shirley Maclaine, and Liv Ullman, who called Kissinger, “the most interesting man I have ever met.”

Kissinger’s swinging bachelor days are long gone, though. He was married to Ann Fleischer from 1949 to 1964 then married philanthropist Nancy Maginnes in 1974—a union that at one point seemed so improbable that just a year before they tied the knot, Maginnes had called speculation that she and Kissinger would marry “outrageous.”


In 1985 former Secret Service agent Dennis McCarthy released the memoir Protecting the President—The Inside Story of a Secret Service Agent, in which he described being on Kissinger’s security detail as “a real pain.” McCarthy shared a funny anecdote about a 1977 trip to Acapulco with Kissinger and his wife. There were signs warning of sharks in the water, but Nancy wanted to go for a swim. Kissinger then told his security detail to get in the water to guard for sharks.

Personal protection is one thing, but McCarthy and his fellow agents drew the line at fighting off sharks. Instead, they made the reasonable point that if the Kissingers were afraid of sharks, they shouldn’t go swimming. Agent McCarthy did, however, offer a compromise; he told Kissinger, “If the sharks come up on this beach, my agents will fight them.”


Official portraits of government luminaries don’t usually become big news, but in 1978 the painting of Kissinger commissioned by the State Department for its gallery made headlines. Boston artist Gardner Cox had previously painted Secretaries of State Dean Acheson and Dean Rusk, so he got the $12,000 commission to paint Kissinger. The finished product didn’t earn rave reviews, though.

Some viewers at the State Department thought the painting lacked Kissinger’s dynamism and made him look “somewhat a dwarf.” Others felt the portrait was “a rogues' gallery thing." The State Department offered to let Cox fix the painting, but he said he didn’t see anything that need changing. He lost the commission but got $700 for his expenses.

Kissinger took the whole episode in stride, though. When Houston artist J. Anthony Wills painted a replacement, Kissinger declared it to be, “an excellent likeness, swelled head and all,” and called the unveiling "one of my most fulfilling moments. Until they do Mount Rushmore."


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