Nation#039;s politics interesting history

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 28, 2004

Presidential politics has always intrigued me.

I am barely old enough to remember the Truman-Willkie race in 1948, but I remember well the Eisenhower elections in 1952 and 1958.

My Dad brought home a newspaper in 1948 which carried the photograph of the front page of the Chicago Tribune which had declared Willkie the winner over Truman.

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That faux pas apparently made the news in almost every newspaper in the country.

My first recollection of taking a personal interest in who might be president was in 1960 when John Kennedy faced off against Richard Nixon.

I have a vivid recall of the debates on television between Kennedy and Nixon and I believe now, as I did then, that it was those debates which turned the tide in favor of Kennedy.

A big question looming over America that year was should we reject Senator Kennedy because he was a Catholic?

To the current generation that must seem like an odd concern but it was very much on the minds of voters and particularly editorial writers around the country.

America had never seriously considered a Catholic and there was some longstanding philosophical concerns about the relationship between the Vatican and American government.

I was in law school at the University of Alabama attending a class on the day President Kennedy was assassinated.

I am quite certain that you, as I do, remember the very spot where you were standing or sitting when you heard the news about his death.

As late as the Kennedy-Nixon election, there was some mystery tied to who would be the respective party nominees.

In the 1950’s, it was not uncommon for there to be several ballots at the conventions before a nominee was finally chosen.

Conventions now appear to be anti-climactic because the presidential choices have long been decided before the dates of the conventions.

To me this is unfortunate.

It takes a lot of the &uot;fun&uot;, for the lack of a better word, out of the process.

More importantly, it works against equality of opportunity to select a nominee.

For instance, if there are five key state primaries held early on, then the 45 remaining states which follow are influenced by the choices made by the voters of the first five states.

Picking a nominee too early also precludes the voters from knowing all there is to know about a candidate.

Often times things come out about a candidate that is important to the selection process as the campaign goes forward.

The longer the candidate is exposed to the public, the more opportunity the public has to see his or her demeanor and attitude on the issues.

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend an &uot;election prediction forum&uot; conducted by three well known national pollsters.

It was part of a program at the annual meeting of the Southern Legislative Conference.

Next week I will share with you the comments and predictions made by the pollsters.

Until next time, remember &uot;I’ll go with your or I’ll go for you&uot; to help you solve any problem related to state government.

Senator Wendell Mitchell can

be reached at 334-242-7883, or by writing

to P.O. Box 225, Luverne, AL 36049.