Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Who Was John Ashbrook?

Promise and Hope: The Ashbrook Presidential Campaign of 1972

by Charles A. Moser

Introduction

In all the vast holdings of the Library of Congress in Washington there is nothing to be found under the name of John Ashbrook. He never wrote a book of his own, and no one has yet written one about him. That is no reproach to he man who for so many years carried the fight for conservative principle in the halls of Congress, for an unkind death cut him down before he could enjoy the leisure later years might have given him for the recollection of battles past. But it is a reproach to many of those who knew him, and could have contributed to the historical record by detailing his achievements. I hope this modest publication may be only first of several to illuminate the contributions which John Ashbrook made to the development of modern American conservatism.

John Ashbrook clearly deserves a full-length biography for that purpose, something which I cannot here provide. I can, however, offer a detailed account of a major episode in his political career: his presidential challenge of 1972 to Richard M. Nixon, when he provided the leadership for those who believed that the President had essentially abandoned the 1968 Republican platform’s “promise and hope,” as Ashbrook phrased it when he announced his candidacy.

John Ashbrook was born in 1928 in Johnstown, Ohio, in the congressional district which his father had represented before him as a Democrat and which he later represented as a Republican. Following post-war service in the United States Navy, he entered Harvard University, graduating in 1952, then worked during the Eisenhower years as an attorney and as the publisher of the Johnstown Independent. Even when he had been in the Congress for many years, he still considered himself first and foremost a newspaper publisher.

Initially elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1960, Ashbrook served there uninterruptedly for 22 years, accruing considerable seniority on the minority side of the lower chamber. He gladly supported unpopular causes: a member of the House of Un-American Activities Committee, he spoke often of internal security in a Congress which disbelieved in the reality of subversion from the left and was bent upon eliminating or hamstringing all official bodies dealing with the issue, and which did indeed eventually abolish that committee. He also rose to ranking Republican on the Education and Labor Committee, one of the most left-wing committees in the House. He had little influence on the Committee because he found so few allies there even on the Republican side, but on the House floor many ameliorating amendments bearing his name were adopted because he was in a position to follow some of the most radical legislation to move through the House of Representatives. Other conservatives, with much less stomach for battle, contented themselves with reasonable committees and legislative specializations, but John Ashbrook fought where the battle was the most difficult.

Congressman Ashbrook was also a very active participant in the organized conservative movement. He served for 5 years as Chairman of the American Conservative Union, frequently spoke at functions of Young Americans for Freedom, and generally contributed signally to the development of a national conservative movement, especially after the defeat of presidential candidate Barry Goldwater in 1964.

In 1982 John Ashbrook announced he would seek the Republican nomination to oppose Senator Howard Metzenbaum. Political observers in Ohio agreed that he was a virtual certainty to receive the GOP nomination, and that he had a fighting chance of defeating Senator Metzenbaum in the fall. As John was campaigning in the spring with his habitual energy he suffered an illness which cost him a few days in the hospital, but then seemed to recover. But on April 24 he collapsed and died within a few hours of massive internal hemorrhaging at a hospital in Newark, Ohio. He was only 53.

Congressman Ashbrook’s wife Jean was elected to serve out her husband’s unexpired term in 1982, after which his congressional seat fell victim to reapportionment. In 1983 President Ronald Reagan spoke at the inauguration of the John M. Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs at Ashland College in Ashland, Ohio, an institution which, one may hope, will among other things investigate John Ashbrook’s place in American political life generally, and in the development of American conservatism in particular.

The author of this study knew John Ashbrook personally, and always admired him for his readiness to stand by conservative principle. Like him, I condemned most of President Nixon’s domestic and foreign policy initiatives of the early 1970′s, and thus I supported the Ashbrook for President Committee in the early months of 1972. It is now my lot to be the first historian of the presidential campaign.

I should like to thank Human Events, the conservative weekly, for permitting me to use its archive of clippings and documents on the campaign, and also those individuals who have given me the benefit of their recollections of it. I am grateful to M. Stanton Evans and the Education and Research Institute for its grant to assist the publication of this monograph. I am especially indebted to the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation, which has supported my work on this project and seen to its publication, designed as a reliable account of a special time in American political history, and as a contribution to a future biography of its central figure – John Ashbrook.

 

Chapter One: Roots of Disaffection

In 1968 Richard M. Nixon won the presidency against Hubert Humphrey while running on a basically conservative platform which many of his Republican backers viewed as a mandate for change. Certainly, the conservative wing of the Republican Party expected him to pursue very different policies from Lyndon Johnson, which had moved U.S. domestic politics steadily to the left for some five years. But President Nixon in office disappointed his conservative backers, especially in the third year of his presidency, 1971, after the congressional elections of 1970 in which the Republicans did not do especially well.

By the middle of 1971 conservatives had grown quite restive over many of the President’s actions. Soon after taking office, for example, he had declared that the United States wrought no victory in Vietnam, which meant that the most powerful nation in the world had embarked upon a course of retreat in Southeast Asia: the only question to be determined was the speed of the withdrawal, the only uncertainty how much could be salvaged from the wreckage. In the area of domestic policy, he had proposed a Family Assistance Plan which conservatives rejected as a giant step along the road of the liberal welfare state: it ultimately failed of enactment, partly as a result of conservative opposition. But these and many other presidential initiatives engendered deep concern among conservatives across the nation.

The third year of the administration, however, saw two major developments – in foreign policy and economic policy – which ran totally counter to everything Republicans had believed for decades, and which brought conservative dissatisfaction with Nixon to a boil. The first was the abrupt reversal of longstanding United States policy toward the communist regime of mainland China; the second was the imposition of a wage and price freeze and more extensive economic controls than the United States had never known before in peacetime.

The China decision was presaged by small harbingers. One of them was the announcement on June 10 of the lifting of the trade embargo with Communist China in effect ever since the communist seizure of power in that country. That was followed on July 15 with an announcement in both capitals that the President would visit Peking in early 1972, the most crucial signal. Once that decision was made, other events followed logically. In September the United States declared that it would vote to seat Peking in the United Nations, which led to the expulsion of the Republic of China on Taiwan and its replacement by the Peking regime. In late February of 1972 President Nixon did visit mainland China, concluding his journey with the issuance of the Shanghai Communiqué, which envisioned the withdrawal of U.S. recognition of the Republic of China and its transfer to the communist dictatorship in Peking. Formally speaking this did not happen until December 1978, when President Carter without any warning abrogated the U.S. mutual defense treaty with the Republic of China and broke off diplomatic relations with the ROC, but this outcome was implicit in President Nixon’s very decision to visit Peking. The contradictions of the policy outlined in the Shanghai Communiqué still have not been resolved in 1984, more than 12 years later.

In 1971 President Nixon also began efforts to improve relations with the Soviet Union. On October 12, 1971, it was announced that he would travel to Moscow in May of 1972, not long after his China trip. The Moscow visit saw the SALT I accord and other agreements as well as the initiation of understandings between the two countries which were supposed to lead to detente and a “generation of peace,” as the President put it in a burst of enthusiasm at the time. A decade later little remains of those exaggerated expectations.

The imposition of economic controls on August 15, 1971, was done just as suddenly as Richard Nixon’s disastrous foreign policy initiatives were taken. A year earlier, in June of 1970, the President had vowed explicitly that he would: not take the nation down the road of wage and price controls, however politically expedient that may seem.” But with the annual inflation rate reaching 6% and beyond, with many constituencies demanding some action, the President reversed himself to decree a 90-day wage and price freeze and an import surcharge, in addition to removing the link between gold and the currency. This initial program was followed by less stringent price and wage controls, and by the devaluation of the dollar in April of 1972. In the end the entire economic program was scrapped after accomplishing very little except to destroy economic priorities during the time it was in place.

Even before the President decided upon wage and price controls, however, conservative leaders in Washington and New York had decided to speak out. Such men as William Rusher and William F. Buckley Jr. of National Review, Tom Winter and Allen Ryskind of Human Events, Randal Teague of Young Americans for Freedom and John Jones and Jeff Bell of the American Conservative Union – members of a group often referred to afterwards as the Manhattan Twelve – had met in New York on July 26 and announced their indefinite “suspension of support” for President Nixon in the forthcoming election. In its statement the group declared it did “not plan at the moment to encourage formal political opposition to President Nixon in the forthcoming primaries,” but it was willing to consider this as a possibility. The group also declared that it viewed its “defection as an act of loyalty to the Nixon we supported in 1968.”1

On the other hand, as a practical matter the dissident conservative group could not hope to exert much influence without a candidate to carry its banner at the presidential level, and this the Manhattan Twelve cast about for an officeholder sufficiently disaffected to enter the Republican presidential primaries. They soon centered their attention on John Ashbrook of Ohio.

Ashbrook had excellent credentials as a Nixon loyalist. In 1968 he had been rather a maverick during the presidential campaign: he had not only declined to go along with a “favorite son” candidacy of Ohio’s governor James Rhodes; he had also been one of only two Ohio Republicans to back Richard Nixon at the Republican National Convention against Ronald Reagan, whom many other conservatives were supporting at the time.2 But by 1971 he had definitely turned against the President, especially since he did not believe that Nixon would be any more conservative in a second term,3 and by running against him he could make amends for his earlier misjudgment. Then too, perhaps Ashbrook agreed to enter the race because he would “rather be a printer” working in his small newspaper office than a politician, as he told the Wall Street Journal at the time of his announcement.4

Ashbrook was personally close to the Manhattan Twelve and shared their disgruntlement with the Nixon presidency, although one did not have to be a conservative to realize what was occurring in the second half of the first term. Tom Braden, for example, writing in the Washington Post in early 1972, remarked that Mr. Nixon had gained an “enormous victory” over the Republican right by pursuing leftist policies cloaked in conservative rhetoric, thus driving the Democrats to “metooism.”5 And the New York Times, declaring that President Nixon had “transformed the political and ideological landscape,” rejoiced a bit prematurely at the though that “after the Nixon Administration’s record, Republican candidates can no longer inveigh against big government, budget deficits, government subsidies or Federal regulation of the economy.”6

Ashbrook saw the facts much as did the New York Times, though his reaction to them was quite different. He had supported Nixon in 1968 because he thought Nixon would turn away from the liberal Democratic policies of the 1960′s, but he had been wrong: as he told a small group of New Hampshire voters in February 1972, Americans “have not gotten the change” which President Nixon had promised,7 a theme he sounded again and again in his campaign. Later on, in California in the waning stages of his candidacy, Ashbrook argued that “Nixon has followed the policies of the Democrats and has carried us from disaster to disaster.”8 After he had terminated his effort, he said once more that the New Deal policies of statism at home and appeasement abroad “have not been changed but extended and refined” under the Republican administration.9

Even more distressing to Ashbrook in some ways than President Nixon’s apostasy was the fact that conservative leaders in Congress and everywhere were so disinclined to speak out against Nixonian policies. They simply reinforced the President’s view that he could move as far to the left as he wished because no conservative leaders would hold him to account. “My basic complaint about the GOP leaders,” Ashbrook said during the campaign, ” is that they don’t apply the standards to this administration that they have been applying to the Democratic administrations.”10 Ashbrook had always been a faithful Republican, but, as he himself phrased it on one occasion, he was “an American first, a conservative second, and a Republican third.”11 John Ashbrook favored political consistency: if he opposed a program proposed by Lyndon Johnson, he should fight the same program if it were suggested by Richard Nixon. There were those, he said, who sought to persuade him that in his heart of hearts Richard Nixon was very much a conservative, but that for various reasons he could not implement conservative policies while in office. Ashbrook rejected that argument: “Feelings the President has which do not issue in public policy,” he said in the Congress, “are regrettably beside the point.”12 On a later occasion, in response to criticism from the Wall Street Journal, he formulated that central point rather more elegantly in a letter to the editor:

An intelligent politics must deal, not in subterranean motives, but in public acts. I infer the President’s intentions from what he does, rather than attempting to explain away what he does with what I assume to be his secret intentions.”13

The logical consequences of such a view was that if more visible conservative leaders than John Ashbrook would not consistently denounce the President’s liberal initiatives – and indeed even insisted on apologizing for them – then he would become the conscience of Republican conservatives.

During 1971 Ashbrook was critical of several major Nixon initiatives, and especially his overtures to communist China. The President’s gratuitous insult to our staunch ally the Republic of China along with his efforts to curry favor with one of the most totalitarian despotisms on the face of the earth rankled with many conservatives, and with none more than John Ashbrook. On July 28, 1971, when the outlines of the new China policy were clear, he addressed this question in a Congressional speech, which also dealt with the problem of change and development. He certainly did not oppose change for its own sake, he commented three days later. Change was inevitable in international affairs, but stability was also important. “I can understand,” he said on July 31,

when a public official changes his position in light of changed circumstances. Although personally steadfastly dedicated to sticking by principles, I do not advocate nor do I practice blind adherence to what might become a fossilized position in the face of progress or changed conditions. But what changed conditions can the President point to in justifying his 180 degree turn from isolating red China to friendly, conciliatory gestures?…There has been no change whatever.14

In 1968 President Nixon affirmed his opposition to the admission of Communist China to the United Nations. Now he was reneging on that pledge even though the Chinese regime, in Ashbrook’s words, “presides over a slave state, just as cruel and brutal as the government of Nazi Germany.”15 Communist China, then, had not altered its policies in the slightest; only the Nixon administration had, and that for very little return. And the appeasement of the Chinese dictatorship, he warned, might be just as catastrophic as the appeasement of the Nazi dictatorship:

President Nixon’s planned trip to Red China can serve no useful purpose for the people of the United States or the free people of Asia. It will only serve to encourage the aggressive intentions of the Red Chinese and their client regimes in North Vietnam and North Korea.16

Later in 1971, Ashbrook declared that the Republic of China’s expulsion from the United Nations “sounded the death knell for that body,” and placed the “major burden of blame for this communist triumph” on the Nixon administration and its sudden abandonment of a policy in place for more than two decades.17

Over the course of 1971, John Ashbrook spoke out on several occasions in opposition to the President, but his most important statement before he declared his candidacy appeared in the Congressional Record on December 15, 1971. Though entitled “The First 1,000 Days – One Legislator’s Viewpoint,” it was actually something in the nature of an indictment, a bill of particulars against the Nixon administration.18

The Ohio Congressman did not contend that President Nixon had accomplished nothing worthwhile: he agreed that the four Supreme Court appointments Nixon had made were substantially better, from a conservative point of view, than one could have anticipated from a Democratic President: that, he said, was “exhibit A in the argument that conservatives should support the President.” But Exhibit B, he went on, “is hard to come up with.”19

Candidate Nixon, he argued, in the 1968 campaign had promised there would be change, change in the right direction, but as President he had consistently advanced “liberal policies in the verbal trappings of conservatism.”20Domestically, for example, the President had promised to cut spending on social programs, but he soon dropped such attempts and had since proposed budgets with such enormous deficits as to set a “peacetime record for the American Government,” in addition to which the administration had boasted that it was spending more on social programs than on national defense.21 The Nixon apostasy in domestic policy was “capped,” Ashbrook said, by his imposition of peacetime wage and price controls a few months before.

The largest single portion of the December 15 indictment, however, was allocated to foreign policy, and most especially to our relations with China, the Soviet Union, and Vietnam. Ashbrook recalled that during the 1968 campaign candidate Nixon had declared himself opposed to any trade or aid with countries assisting North Vietnam in her war against the south. But as President Mr. Nixon had moved to “conciliate Red China,” inviting it to move into the power vacuum which would be created when the United States withdrew from Southeast Asia; even worse, he was negotiating subsidized trade agreements with the Soviet Union, which was most certainly assisting North Vietnam, Ashbrook generally regarded the President’s China policy as a “debacle”:

The President’s policy has dispirited anti-Communist leaders throughout the Pacific, and given the friends of Communist China enormous impetus. The administration has handed the Communists a monumental victory, gratuitously and with barely a sign of struggle.22

The President’s approach to strategic arms negotiations with the Soviet Union was equally unwise, Ashbrook felt: in fact it bordered on “clinical lunacy” to “make certain our population is not protected from enemy attack, while simultaneously ensuring that our own weapons cannot inflict too much damage on the enemy.”23 Ashbrook also objected to the fact that Defense Secretary Melvin Laird had halted research and development work on “futuristic missile-defense systems” using lasers even before we might have been required to do so under the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty then being negotiated with the Soviets.24

In short, then, John Ashbrook maintained that in nearly all areas, foreign and domestic, the Nixon administration had pursued liberal policies, and that it was the task of true conservative leaders to point this out in no uncertain terms.

To be sure, Ashbrook went on, the President’s conservative defenders argued that he was compelled to adopt liberal policies by unbearable political pressures, in particular those emanating from a “hostile Congress.” But the congressman knew himself of instances in which the Congress was prepared to adopt conservative positions but the administration set its face against them. A prime example of leftward leadership was the alteration of our policy toward Communist China.

When he first took office, Ashbrook thought, President Nixon had had the opportunity to build a new conservative coalition to govern the country effectively. “The result of such leadership,” he said,

Could well have been a period of conservative and Republican ascendancy to match the Democratic era that followed upon the victory of Franklin Roosevelt. Instead, the net result of this administration may be to frustrate for years to come the emergence of the conservative majority.25

But if President Nixon was principally to blame for this situation, other conservative leaders like senator Barry Goldwater had also been derelict in their duty: not only had they generally supported the President, they had gone to great lengths to criticize any vocal conservative opposition to him on the grounds that the conservative viewpoint should be advanced only from the inside.26 But Ashbrook rejected this theory of quiet, cooperative criticism. If the President could not lead the conservative cause, then others would have to step into that role as a means of applying rightward pressure on the President, for otherwise he would naturally veer to the left:

Since almost all of the noted conservative leaders have virtually stated they will not jump ship even when the President engages in the most overt liberal initiatives, the President may assume he has the conservatives in his pocket. He is free to move as far left as he wishes in order to placate the liberals. The performance of the conservative leaders is thus, in itself, a major contribution to the leftward drift of the administration.27

John Ashbrook believed that there existed a large and growing constituency in this country responsive to a conservative appeal, but that the established leadership was failing to articulate conservative principles sufficiently clearly, and – most important – to implement them when it had the opportunity to do so. Conservative leaders should argue in favor of their convictions not only under liberal administrations, but also under nominally conservative administrations as well, for otherwise the political agenda would continue to be defined by the left. And it was according to this accurate understanding of political dynamics that John Ashbrook decided to act shortly after he delivered his indictment on December 15.

 

Chapter Two: Recruiting the Candidate

The Manhattan Twelve had announced its suspension of support for President Nixon in mid-summer, but this was a negative gesture with little substantive meaning in the political context, especially if the Democratic nominee for the presidency in 1972 turned out to be far to the left, as he did. From the beginning the group had to consider seriously the possibility of running a candidate against the President in the Republican primaries as a means at the very least of exerting positive pressure on the President by mobilizing his basically conservative constituency.

On September 20 several Manhattan twelve members – including Tom Winter, Randal Teague, Stan Evans, Dan Mahoney, and William Rusher – met for dinner at the New York home of William F. Buckley Jr. to discuss the presidential problem further. Apparently at this meeting it was decided to contract for the services of Jerry Harkins – a long-time political associate of Rusher’s – to prepare a report on the “possibilities for political action against Mr. Nixon.”28 Although the text of the report seems not to be available, it no doubt raised the question of a conservative candidate.

This option must have seemed the more feasible since by this time there was already one serious opponent to President Nixon in the Republican field: on July 9 Congressman Paul McCloskey Jr. of California had declared his candidacy on the grounds that President Nixon had failed to bring the conflict in Southeast Asia to a conclusion, as he had promised to do during the 1968 campaign. McCloskey campaigned only in New Hampshire, and over a long period of time, plainly hoping to accomplish in 1972 what Eugene McCarthy had done there against Lyndon Johnson in 1968.29 And as with McCarthy, the only salient issue for McCloskey was the Vietnam War, the prism through which he viewed every other issue, sometimes to the point of absurdity. For instance, in March 1972, after President Nixon’s return from his trip to mainland China, McCloskey generally agreed with the idea of establishing better relations with the communist giant, but in the next breath denounced the effort as a “fraud.” “The timing of the trip to China,” he said,

The fact of the trip to China, was more to divert public attention back home away from the real problems the nation faces – particularly the settlement of the Vietnam War – than it was to achieve any breakthrough in the relationship with China.30

Although McCloskey was accurately perceived by most political commentators as running to the President’s left, his perception among New Hampshire voters was cloudy – especially since McCloskey was an ex-Marine – and on election day he probably drew a substantial number of conservative protest votes.

In any case, for some time the Manhattan Twelve had no candidate to advance its cause. The big names among conservatives, although willing to criticize the President on particular issues, would under no circumstances launch a broad scale attack against him, much less undertake a presidential candidacy. So the dissidents and the Ohio Congressman gravitated toward one another.

The effort to recruit Ashbrook as a presidential candidate intensified in December. Probably on December 2 several of the Manhattan Twelve met with Ashbrook in his congressional office to encourage him to run, and issued a statement declaring their support for the Congressman as a presidential candidate (a little later Time magazine, rather snidely, called him a “right-wing gadfly.”)31 On December 6 Ashbrook spoke with Washington Postpolitical reporter Ken Clawson, who wrote that the Ohio Congressman was “in sympathy with the plight of conservatives all over the nation,” and quoted him as saying that “the average conservative feels the President is going to give him courtesy and that’s all.”32

No doubt one of the most important events in the pre-history of the Ashbrook candidacy was a private dinner held on December 13 at a restaurant in the national Press Club, attended by such conservative leaders as Dan Mahoney, Mel Thomson, Tom Winter, General Thomas Lane, and William Rusher. At the dinner Ashbrook was urged to enter the race, and Rusher underlined his commitment by presenting Ashbrook with a personal campaign contribution of $1,000.33

By this time the White House had become sufficiently alarmed to work at heading off a possible Ashbrook candidacy. One press report said that White House representatives “have been making wide spread contacts with the party’s right wing to express deep concern at the threat to the President from within his own party.”34 And on December 15 Vice President Spiro Agnew and his political advisor David Keene traveled to New York for a breakfast meeting with William F. Buckley, Jr. and William Rusher at the Waldorf Astoria. The Vice President argued strenuously against the Ashbrook candidacy, and apparently was in considerable trepidation that a conservative candidacy would jeopardize his own position on the ticket.35

But if there was discouragement in New York, there were encouraging words from New Hampshire, as the influential editor and publisher of the Manchester Union Leader, William Loeb, published a front-page editorial urging Ashbrook to run on December 9. Terming him a “plain-talking, honest man,” Loeb declared that Ashbrook “answers the prescription of what the average citizen says he wants to see in a presidential candidate — intelligence, administrative ability, integrity and, of particular appeal, complete candor.”36 If Ashbrook could depend upon the support of the largest newspaper in the state with the first presidential primary, he would enjoy a major advantage early in his quest. For this reason Ashbrook traveled north to meet with Loeb and Republican leaders on December 21 at Loeb’s home in Pride’s Crossing, Massachusetts. After the meeting Loeb issued a statement promising Ashbrook the “full backing of the Union Leader” if he decided to enter the presidential race.37

That month of decision, of maneuvering between Ashbrook and his supporters on the one hand, and the White House and establishment conservative leaders on the other, did bear positive fruit in the President’s veto of the potentially quite radical Child Development Act of 1971. The President vetoed the act on December 9, and the Senate failed to override the veto on the following day.

The Child Development Act would have established a network of Federally supported centers for young children of working mothers, and also would have gotten the Federal government involved in the very early education of deprived children in particular. The White House took little interest in the legislation, one of whose prime sponsors in the Senate was New York Republican Jacob Javits. Conservatives viewed the legislation with great alarm as an opening wedge into very early childhood training and behavior modification which, once begun, would inevitably expand, so that Federal government would more and more replace parents as the inculcator of values in early childhood. In the Senate James Buckley helped lead the fight against the bill, and in the House John Ashbrook. Their two names were attached to an amendment designed to safeguard the “moral and legal rights and responsibilities of parents or guardians with respect to the moral, mental, emotional or physical development of their children’” but if the bill had become law the Buckley-Ashbrook amendment would no doubt have been ignored. As Congressman Ashbrook said in a statement on November 17 opposing the legislation, the bill should have properly have been called a “child control” or “parent replacement,” act, because

the opportunity to develop attitudes is what these people are really after. Not the traditional goals of education which are directed toward informing the student and teaching him to think so he will make his own decisions.38

Despite the mobilization of conservative opposition, the legislation passed the Congress fairly handily. Only the President’s veto stopped in its tracks, and though some desultory attempts were made to put it through the following summer, the idea has never reappeared since on a grand scale, and the Federal government has more or less refrained from interfering in early childhood education. Those behind the Ashbrook campaign were convinced that the Child Development Act would never have been vetoed had it not been for the threat of the Ashbrook candidacy.

The White House sought in various other ways to alleviate conservative discontent. Not only did President Nixon dispatch Vice President Agnew and conservative White House staffers to talk against the candidacy – William Rusher was quoted in the Washington Star as saying that “people at the White House have been raising hell with their conservative contacts, including ‘threats, whines and whistles’”39 – there was also a report that the President himself had considered meeting with a small group of conservative leaders so they could “air their disagreements” on domestic and foreign policy.40 However, nothing came of this idea, and even if the meeting had occurred, it probably would have accomplished little.

After the indictment speech of December 15 – published in abbreviated form in both the Washington Star andNew York Times on the following day – and the encouragement which Ashbrook had received from the Manhattan Twelve, William Loeb, and others, it became increasingly likely that he would embark – to use his own phrase – upon a “‘small Paul Revere ride’ through New Hampshire.”41

Probably within the last ten days of December the White House made a last-ditch effort to head off an Ashbrook candidacy. As William Rusher recalls in his recent memoirs The Rise of the Right, President Nixon transmitted through Pat Buchanan a list of three moves he would make if Ashbrook did not run. As Rusher summarizes them:

  1. There would be a “clear signal,” early in January, that Agnew was Nixon’s choice for renomination as vice president.
  2. There would be another “clear signal” that the family assistance plan…would be abandoned.
  3. There would be certain criteria specified, though generally modest, increases in the defense budget.42

Two things might be noted about this offer. The first is that it coincides almost exactly with three of four points listed in a New York Times report of December 3 as conditions under which Ashbrook would drop his candidacy (the fourth condition was that President Nixon visit Taipei after his planned trip to Peking in February).43 By now, however, the Congressman’s resolve had hardened to the point at which even these concessions did not deter him. The second point is that the President more or less did all these things even though Ashbrook went through with his candidacy.

For then, on December 29, John Ashbrook held a press conference in Washington to announce that he would be a candidate for the presidency of the United States.

In the statement he had prepared for the occasion, the new candidate recalled his support for Richard Nixon in 1968 on the basis of his positions at the time.

[President Nixon] said that we would have to put an end to the huge Federal deficits which fuel inflation and pick the pockets of every American. He warned against the dangers of an increasingly regimented economy. He pledged to oppose any scheme for a guaranteed annual income. He promised to bring the Federal bureaucracy to an accountability that was long past due. He spoke out for more individual initiative in the old American style. He cautioned us to be on our guard against the seductive idea that there had never been a cold war, or that, at any rate, it was now over. He called for military superiority and strategic weapons with which to defend America from the growing might of the Soviet Union.

And on all those issues he was absolutely right.44

But once in office, Richard Nixon had abandoned almost all these views of such long standing. It was precisely because he had done so, because the “promise and hope” of three years earlier had so largely vanished, that John Ashbrook declared his candidacy for the highest office in the land. In short, he said as 1971 passed into history, he remained true to the philosophy which Richard Nixon had claimed to espouse when he was elected in 1968, and he urged all those who valued fidelity to political conviction over individual personalities to support his candidacy. The John Ashbrook of 1972 was the Richard Nixon of 1968. The voters would now have to decide whether they preferred the individual or the policies.

But the reporters who cover such events as announcements of presidential candidacies care little about great policy issues: they are more concerned with personalities and practicalities of a successful presidential race. Thus the New York Times coverage played up the fact that Ashbrook had no campaign manager as yet, and no plans for financing his campaign, as well as the fact that he would file for re-election to the House so that if his presidential campaign faltered he would not leave political life.45 The reporter for the Baltimore Sun inquired about the percentages by which Ashbrook would measure a “successful” campaign, and learned that the candidate believed that 10% would suffice to keep the White House’s attention, 15-20% would be “very good,” and that 20% or more would be “startling at the outset.”46Thus the practical aspects of the race were given prominence from the foundation.

John Ashbrook loved to deal with policy issues and philosophical questions, and not with the mechanics of political campaigns. And yet any serious presidential candidate must have some notion of what he hopes to accomplish. It was clear from the start that Ashbrook had for all practical purposes no chance of defeating the President and winning the nomination for himself, although he must have been persuaded there was a glimmer of hope for him. A New York Times editorial of December 11 dealt with this question, remarking that Nixon was too worried by the Ashbrook challenge: his position was not nearly so shaky as President Johnson’s in 1968, whose opponents were interested above all else in driving him from office.47 The conservatives of 1972 did not have blood in their eye: many leading conservatives had remained entirely apart from the controversy, and even Ashbrook distinguished between “those who want to get the President’s attention and those who want to beat him,” and allied himself with the former group. As the paper quite correctly observed, “this is hardly the stuff to promise a brawling convention at San Diego next summer. It would be surprising, in fact, if it even proved enough to stir up the voters of New Hampshire.” John Ashbrook’s uncertainty as to whether he could defeat the President transmitted itself to his campaign, which did not get off to a strong start.

On the other hand, the campaign rejected the very low-key characterization of the candidacy advanced by conservative commentator John Coyne, Jr., who in February argued that it was merely “symbolic,” in no sense a “real-life run for the presidency.”48 A “symbolic” candidacy was altogether too ethereal for the political reality of that time. Although the Manhattan Twelve were intellectuals, they could not endorse a presidential candidacy for the sole purpose of scoring debating points.

Most of those associated with the Ashbrook campaign took a rather hybrid view of what it might accomplish. This concept was neatly formulated by Phil Nicolaides in a document of January 14, 1972, entitled “Ashbrook Campaign Idea Bank #1,” intended for internal consumption, where he said: “we are not simply running to make a point and not simply running to win…[we are] running to win enough so as to make a point effectively.”49 In February Frank Lee, the Ashbrook campaign manager, was quoted in the Washington Postas saying that the campaign would not seek to defeat the President in the fall elections, and that it would not participate in any third-party effort. As Lee saw it, the message the campaign wished to deliver was very modest: “We are not asking the party to turn right. We’re just saying ‘Don’t turn left’.”50 The candidate himself at about the same time remarked to the New York Times that he himself was not on a “fool’s mission,” and that if he did badly in New Hampshire and Florida he would have to reassess his candidacy very seriously.51 Ashbrook realized he was taking a chance: he needed to do well not only against Richard Nixon, but also against Paul McCloskey. If he came in behind McCloskey, he admitted early on, then “the conservative movement in this country would be in very bad shape.”52

The general consensus in the Ashbrook camp, then, was that the candidate had no real chance of winning, but that he could mobilize enough conservative protest votes in selected primaries to demonstrate the strength of conservative disaffection among the Republican electorate and thus pressure the President to move to the right if he wished to win the Ashbrook supporters in November.

The 1972 Republican primary was classical in its political balance: it featured only three serious candidates positioned along the political spectrum: McCloskey on the left, Nixon in the center, and Ashbrook on the right. There might have been some interesting three-cornered debates during the New Hampshire campaign, but the President never appeared in the state himself. McCloskey publicly welcomed Ashbrook’s entry into the race: on December 13, responding to a comment from William Loeb that he would be “disconcerted” over the Ashbrook candidacy, McCloskey’s congressional office in Washington issued a statement welcoming the prospective candidate, and suggesting the possibility of debates between the two of them and possibly the President on such topics as “bombing in Cambodia,” “untruthfulness in government,” and “continued deficit spending.”53 As things turned out, the two Republican congressmen appeared only once on the same platform – at a Presidential Candidate’s Night in Bedford on January 13,54 – an occasion which McCloskey recalled later as involving nothing more than “the exchange of a few remarks on our respective disagreement with Nixon.” In later years McCloskey always believed that Ashbrook entered the campaign “because he feared that my anti-war candidacy might swing Nixon too far of the ‘left,’ and he wanted to be sure to protect Nixon’s legitimacy on the right.”55 That is surely a misreading of Ashbrook’s motivations, but in any case the potential of genuine three-way—or even two-way—debates among New Hampshire Republicans was never realized, and in practice the campaign was not so neat as it seemed in theory.

 

Chapter Three: Contemporary Views of The Ashbrook Campaign

Reactions to the announcement of the Ashbrook candidacy ran the gamut from unqualified approval to wholesale condemnation. As a rough generalization it may be said that the decision was most controversial on the right; those on the left of the political spectrum either approved of it or did not take it seriously.

A very negative view of the Ashbrook candidacy was widespread among leading conservative officeholders who should have been part of the insurgency. By his entry Ashbrook implicitly criticized their political and moral stand on Nixon, and Ashbrook sometimes criticized them explicitly, as when he commented to a political reporter for the Washington Star while pondering his decision to run that since he would not have such men as Reagan, Goldwater and Tower with him, perhaps it was “time… for a group of new conservative leaders in this country.”56

When he announced his candidacy Ashbrook was soon asked how many prominent supporters he had. The Wall Street Journal commented that only a few “right-wing” congressmen like John Schmitz of California, William Scherle of Iowa, and Phil Crane of Illinois were with him,57 but even there his support turned out to be rather tentative. Congressman Crane, for example, supported him only in a very special sense, telling one journalist:

John doesn’t anticipate winning. He is trying to influence the policies of the President, and to this extent, I hope he succeeds. I will support the Republican candidate for President, and I anticipate that this is going to be Richard Nixon in 1972.58

To be sure, even a few supporters in strategic spots could help: apparently an effort during the campaign to obtain a unanimous endorsement of the President from the Indiana House Republican delegation failed when staunch conservative Earl Landgre be refused to go along because he supported Ashbrook.59

Senator James Buckley, elected on the Conservative Party ticket in New York against a Republican in 1970, and whose brother William was among Ashbrook’s public supporters, was in a delicate situation, especially since the New York Conservative Party backed Ashbrook. Senator Buckley would not support Ashbrook, but he did not condemn him either, using rather mild language to say that he did not feel the candidacy would provide an appropriate “‘litmus test’ of conservative sentiment” on issues.60 This presented the New York Conservative Party with a dilemma too: its heart was with the Ashbrook candidacy, and it was strongly opposed to the Nixon opening to China, but its chief officeholder did not back Ashbrook, and in addition the Conservative Party was seeking to improve its relations with the New York Republican Party.61 Since Ashbrook did not enter the primaries in new York, however, the problem did not become acute for the New York Conservative Party.

Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater opposed the Ashbrook candidacy. In January Reagan criticized the campaign on the grounds that “the party’s got a big enough umbrella to keep all these people within it;”62 in February he proclaimed his “complete disagreement” with the Ohio Congressman’s presidential bid.63 But it was Barry Goldwater who unlimbered the heaviest verbal artillery against Ashbrook. In early January he wrote a syndicated column defending the Nixon Presidency on four grounds: Nixon’s Supreme Court appointments; his winding down of the Vietnam War; the record of the Justice Department under John Mitchell and Richard Kleindiest; and – most important – the fact that any Democratic alternative was too horrible to contemplate.64 After the campaign was underway, the Senator from Arizona, indulging in rhetorical overkill in Time, declared the Ashbrook candidacy a “threat to the entire party, the entire country, the entire free world and freedom itself.”65 Thus the Ashbrook candidacy not only had to function without the active or tacit support of major conservative officeholders, but had to contend with their determined opposition.

John Ashbrook was compelled to rely for support upon lesser known conservative publicists and intellectuals.Human Events was a mainstay of his campaign; William F. Buckley Jr. and William Rusher wrote in his behalf and campaigned for him in New Hampshire; and Phyllis Schalfly also went on the campaign trial for him. But these people for the most part, though prominent among conservatives, were less well known to the general public.

Opinion among conservative intellectuals and political commentators was divided, but tended in Ashbrook’s favor. There were few so strongly encouraging as General Thomas Lane, or so inaccurate in their assessment of the current political situation. In a column of late December General Lane said he had encouraged Ashbrook to run because it was important for conservatives to defend their principles, adding:

If (Nixon) runs in 1972, he and the Republican Party will suffer a crushing defeat. The Republican Party can avoid that prospect by persuading Richard Nixon to withdraw from the 1972 race.66

Once the Congressman made his decision, William Loeb was as good as his word in endorsing his candidacy. On December 31 Loeb came out in Ashbrook’s support in a lead editorial on the front page of the Union Leader, although its tone was as much anti-Nixon as it was pro-Ashbrook.67 All during January and February the newspaper gave the campaign extensive coverage, and published favorable analyses of his race by conservative columnists and commentators. On February 28, a week before the election, it printed extensive excerpts from his indictment speech of December 15, covering almost a full page; and on February 25 and March 2 Loeb published further first-page editorials endorsing Ashbrook in the Republican race. In one sense Ashbrook could not have asked for more favorable attention than he received from the Union Leader. On the other hand, he could not campaign as much as he would have liked in New Hampshire, and Loeb had a candidate in the Democratic primary as well: mayor Sam Yorty of Los Angeles. Yorty spent more time than Ashbrook in the state, and Loeb’s endorsements of Ashbrook were often coupled with endorsements of Yorty, which diluted the force of the newspaper’s support.

Some conservatives, though much in sympathy with Ashbrook, worried that a poorly run campaign which ended badly might damage rather than help the conservative cause. One writer for the Rockford Morning Star advanced that point of view as a means of disconcerting the conservatives: “A feeble turnout for (Ashbrook),” he wrote, ” could help convince the President that he can disregard with impunity the plaintive cries from the right.”68 While Ashbrook was considering his candidacy, long-time conservative columnist John Hamberlain mused that it would certainly be better to have a Nixon in the White House than a Muskie or a Kennedy, but this was not to say that there was “no utility in keeping Richard Nixon’s feet to the fire”: the Child Development act veto was an example of such utility.69 And commentator James J. Kilpatrick, writing at about the same time, decided that the Manhattan Twelve’s summer rebellion had fallen short, and might as well be abandoned, for no serious politicians had joined forces with them. But then he added:

Better a poor rebellion than no rebellion at all. In a close race, Nixon will need every vote he can get; and if he is moved to feed our discontent just every now and then, some good may come of our growling.70

The editor of the Indianapolis News, Mr. Stanton Evans, welcomed the Ohioan’s entrance into the race, “commending” him for his “bold step to restore some reasonable symmetry to the national debate.”71 The “symmetry” of which the News spoke influenced Jeffrey Hart when he wrote in the Manchester Union Leader on January 10 that liberal groups had been most outspoken recently, while conservatives had kept very quiet: even if the Ashbrook candidacy fared poorly, he argued, it would at least expand the political options open to the President.72 Holmes Alexander, however, though he thought Ashbrook a “decent and wholesome influence in the Republican Party,” a “far more articulate conservative than Barry Goldwater or Ronald Reagan,” still felt that conservatives should think very hard before trying to destroy the Nixon candidacy.73

Finally, some conservative commentators generally opposed the notion of an Ashbrook candidacy. Ralph de Toledano, though he liked Ashbrook personally, opposed his candidacy on the grounds that it had an insufficient likelihood of success, and its failure would buttress those who argued that the conservative movement had no real political standing.74 An editorial writer for the conservative Dallas Morning News expressed his preference for a “species of Republican in office” over an “ideological bloodletting,”75 and John Coyne Jr. argued consistently that Ashbrook was a “non-candidate” who was simply hindering a “real candidate,” George Wallace: for some reason he found it objectionable that Ashbrook and Wallace should raise many of the same issues.76 And the conservative Richmond News Leader, which on January 4 devoted its entire editorial page to the Ashbrook challenge, adopted a generally negative stand from a conservative viewpoint on it, although it admitted there might be “some value” in his candidacy if it were designed to “influence the President rather than replace him.”77

Once the White House failed to block the Ashbrook candidacy, it began discounting its importance. According to a New York Times report of early January, one White House staff member termed Ashbrook “a nuisance and a bother more than anything else,” and characterized his supporters as “intellectual ideologues.” The White House did not expect it to be necessary, but if it should be they would dispatch major conservative spokesmen to New Hampshire to speak for the President.78

Of the major establishment print media, the Washington Post was generally most favorable to the Ashbrook campaign. On January 3 the Post belatedly published large portions of the Ashbrook indictment speech of December 15, declaring in its lead editorial that the candidate had formulated a “compelling” case for his refusal to be “moved by liberal programs done up in rightwing wrappings.” Viewing the situation from the conservative standpoint – which the Post made it clear it did not share – it agreed with Ashbrook that “the active challenge would seem to make considerably more sense than the good soldier compliance that is being advocated by some of his colleague.”79 In short, the Post felt that John Ashbrook had every right to be incensed at the Nixon administration’s policies, and that it was proper for him to advance his point of view through a presidential candidacy, even though it did not agree with his opinions on the substantive issues. By means of his candidacy, the editorialist thought, Ashbrook had a “very live chance” of shifting administration policies in the coming months.

The Wall Street Journal took a condescending attitude toward the Ashbrook campaign in its editorial columns: it even termed him a “Don Quixote.” The paper thought he should be attacking wage and price controls rather than the reversal of our China policy, which in its opinion was bound to have occurred eventually. “What seems to be operating is not conservative intellect,” it wrote, “but an ideological tic.” True, the Ashbrook effort might wrest some policy concessions from the administrations, but “the price of any such victory will be dear,” the Journalbelieved.80

The New York Times viewed the Ashbrook campaign in highly ideological terms. On December 31, in an editorial comment on the President’s signing of a “workfare” bill, the newspaper declared Mr. Nixon had accepted legislation to “quiet the war drums on his political right,” as embodied in the Ashbrook “shadow candidacy” mounted “in the name of the true conservative faith.”81 Later on, after President Nixon formally announced his candidacy, the Times spoke of Paul McCloskey as the “progressive” Republican candidate, and Ashbrook as the “reactionary challenger” who “assails Mr. Nixon for turning away from the true cold war faith.” The Times was quiet certain that neither competitor could deny the President renomination.82

Other representatives of the establishment print media took the prospect of an Ashbrook candidacy quite calmly. The Baltimore Sun remarked that it might tap a certain unease among many people over “the element of intensive public relations, of pragmatism carried to opportunism” so noticeable in the Nixon administration.83 The BostonHerald Traveler was amused to discover that the political right could advance just as “improbable presidential candidates” as their counterparts on the left;84 and theMilwaukee Sentinel ”welcomed” the Ashbrook challenge because it enlivened the Republican campaign, but also because it would demonstrate to “diehard” conservatives how “largely ineffectual” they are when they refuse to recognize that politics is the art of the possible and prefer to stand on principle through defeat after defeat.”85

The strongly left-wing Nation, however, was pleased by the Ashbrook candidacy, and urged him to enter the New Hampshire race, especially since Nixon had steadfastly ignored McCloskey and a “clash between Ashbrook and McCloskey would generate excitement and air the issues.” The journal’s commentator summarized the entire situation as follows:

The right-wing conservatives have a just cause of grievance; they have been betrayed by Nixon. If they do not challenge his leadership now, their bargaining power – read nuisance value – will decline. A three-cornered debate among Ashbrook, McCloskey and Nixon (or his spokesman) would offer New Hampshire Republicans some real options.86

In sum, the verdict of press and political commentators on the Ashbrook candidacy was mixed. Virtually no one believed that it posed a serious threat to President Nixon’s renomination, but some conservative commentators, concerned that the November election would be closer than it in fact was, feared that the Ohioan’s challenge might lead to the President’s defeat. Certain media organs which did not sympathize with the President were pleased at such a prospect, and were in any case happy that there would be more activity on the Republican side during the primaries. On the whole, however, the media took no interest in promoting the Ashbrook candidacy, and so they gave the campaign only sporadic notice after and initial flurry of comment at the time of his announcement. Ashbrook consequently had a difficult time in penetrating the consciousness of the voters through the media, and in any case that was primarily the task of the political campaign itself, which officially began with the announcement of December.

 

Chapter Four: The Ashbrook Campaign

The hour was late for a candidate starting with only a loose coalition of conservative groups as a base, and the Ashbrook for President Committee quickly took on official form at a central office located at 1028 Connecticut Avenue in Washington. The position of national director of the Committee was filled by Frank R. Lee, detailed from Fowler, More and Company (a marketing communications firm), who took up his position by January 4 and remained there until about March 20, or only about 2 ½ months.

The position of Director of Press Relations was assumed by Paul Bethel, a veteran journalist with wide expertise on Latin America and former director of the Citizens Committee for a Free Cuba.

One organization formed through the central office in support of the Ashbrook candidacy was Professors for Ashbrook, which numbered among its members Henry Paolucci of St. Johns University, Charles A. Rice of Notre Dame, David N. Rowe of Yale, Gordon Tullock of Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Justus van der Kroef of the University of Bridgeport, and Charles A. Moser of George Washington University.

Finances were a constant problem for the campaign. When his challenge had been in its early stages, Ashbrook had “poked fun at himself” before a Wall Street Journalreporter by “telling of his first campaign contribution, from a Nixon loyalist who wrote that he had solicited for Mr. Ashbrook all over Mansfield, Ohio and got $1.32.”87Now the situation was more serious. Although the campaign received logistical and some financial support from organizations like the American Conservative Union and the Young Americans for Freedom, it also had to develop its own financial base as promptly as possible. This is accomplished by signing a fundraising contract with the Richard A. Viguerie Company of Falls Church, Virginia, which provided the campaign with a basic income of $5,000 per week beginning on January 15 and continuing to March 15. In addition, about February 1 the Ashbrook for President Committee accomplished a political coup by the appointment of Leland Kaiser of California as its Finance Chairman. A “wealthy financier,” Mr. Kaiser had been an executive vice chairman of the Republican National Finance Committee during the 1968 election campaign for Nixon and Agnew.88 Unfortunately Kaiser did not raise enough money to allow the money-starved campaign to do all the things it would have wished to do.

New Hampshire

As soon as possible after the New Year holidays, John Ashbrook made his way to New Hampshire to begin his campaign in that state. On January 3 he held a press conference at the State House in Concord to declare his intention of mounting a “vigorous conservative challenge” to the President, whom he criticized for “drifts from the mainstream of Republican thinking.”89 He also attacked the President’s decision not to campaign personally in the state as a sign he hoped to “ride the waves” to renomination without submitting his record to the people.90

In order to qualify for the primary, Ashbrook needed to gather 500 signatures on his petitions in each of the state’s two congressional districts, a task quickly accomplished by some 50 members of Young Americans for Freedom, who by January 4 had obtained the necessary number. Jim Altham, the campaign’s local youth coordinator, declared that this was but the start of an effort to demonstrate that “conservative young people of the Republican party will not be taken for granted.”91 Although the goal was reached rapidly, it was none too soon, for the filing deadline was January 6, a limit which the candidate met along with Democrat Edmund Muskie and a fourth Republican, comedian Pat Paulsen.92 On that occasion the Union Leader did its best to give him publicity: its headline listed him before Muskie (Ashbrook, Muskie File,”), and its front-page report of January 7 featured a photograph of candidate Ashbrook with the New Hampshire Secretary of State, Robert L. Stark. An article accompanying the report quoted Ashbrook as saying he realized that his “candidacy here is extremely nettling to Nixon.”93

Despite the newspaper’s support, John Ashbrook’s name at the beginning was far from a household word in New Hampshire, and he had much ground to make up. A poll of early February, for instance, showed that Pat Paulsen was much better known than he was, and that 64% of the voter sample even by that time did not know enough about him to express an opinion on his candidacy.94 ABoston Globe poll at this same time showed Nixon at 71%, McCloskey at 14%, and Ashbrook at a mere 4%;95 another poll some two weeks later showed Ashbrook at 5% and McCloskey at 12%.96

Ashbrook made his first campaign swing in New Hampshire beginning on January 12, when he spoke at Bedford along with Paul McCloskey; on January 13 he visited Concord and Nashua, giving various newspaper and radio interviews.97 After this first visit of two or three days, the candidate evidently did not return to the state until about January 25, when he spoke in Berlin and Lancaster, opposing President Nixon’s trip to Communist China scheduled for the following month.98 On January 26 he appeared in Littleton before the Rotary Club and before students at the local high school: according to the report the students liked his honesty but disagreed with his views on the Vietnam War and the need to increase defense spending.99

Thereafter the candidate apparently did not return to New Hampshire until the middle of the next month: on February 14 he spoke at the Nashua Rotary Club.10 The following day, having denied “equal time” to address the New Hampshire state legislature after Democratic presidential candidate Wilbur Mills had appeared before it, Ashbrook held a press conference at the State House in which he opposed revenue sharing because the Federal government had no money to share, and because any such money would always return with controls added: the question of the Federal government’s compelling the states to raise or impose local taxes was very much on the agenda at the time.101 On February 16 he appeared at Durham at a private home.102

The final campaign effort was put in during the last week or so before the March 7 primary. On February 29 the candidate appeared in Bedford at a press conference with William F. Buckley Jr. who endorsed his candidacy but spoke mostly about President Nixon’s trip to mainland China, then just concluded, in which Buckley had participated and with which he was quite unhappy.103Ashbrook apparently campaigned vigorously down to the wire for the primary, but we have few details on his appearances during this week, for much of his campaigning was done at coffees and small gatherings at private homes. He lacked the funds for television advertising, and thus the campaign confined itself to radio spots and some print advertising (it ran at least two large advertisements hitting at budget deficits in the Manchester Union Leader in the period immediately before election day). In addition, he appeared on the CBS network’s “Face the Nation” on March 5, just two days before the election. The conservative challenger also suffered from organizational problems within the state. One political commentator called the Ashbrook effort “close to a do-it yourself campaign”: the candidate simply sought all the radio and newspaper interviews he could obtain and his traveling party usually consisted only of a driver, Richard Smith, who bore the title of State Coordinator.104 A lengthy Wall Street Journal article of February 4 compared the Ashbrook and McCloskey campaigns to the disadvantage of the former, mentioning the Ashbrook campaign’s “spotty” preparatory work and recalling that when the candidate once arrived in Lebanon for a television interview “he spent many minutes looking for the television station, which he finally found locked and dark.”105

The Ashbrook cause was definitely not aided by the public resignation of the New Hampshire state campaign director just as the campaign was taking shape. Initially Fred Goode had agreed to chair the state campaign, but his law partner, Louis Wyman, a Republican congressman and a strong supporter of President Nixon, made it clear he did not think it appropriate for him to be on the other side of the political fence. Ashbrook then appointed state legislator George E. Gordon III, a variety store owner, as his state chairman. That action in turn caused the resignation of the campaign director, Richard Howard, who had previously publicly called Gordon a “right-wing screwball who gives responsible conservatives such as myself a bad name.” Howard emphasized that his quarrel was with George Gordon as chairman, and not with the Ashbrook candidacy: he said he still intended to vote for Ashbrook on election day and indeed he soon filed as an at-large delegate favorable to Ashbrook.106 Still, coming when it did, the local organization upheaval did nothing to improve the candidate’s chances.

Although the candidate’s trail through New Hampshire must have seemed lonely at times, some conservative leaders who were not office-holders put in appearances on his behalf. William F. Buckley did so on February 29, as we have noted; and William Rusher, publisher of National Review, made a two-day tour of the state on his behalf on February 21-22, speaking at St. Anselm’s College, Dartmouth College, and the towns of Manchester, Durham, and Hampton.107 On the whole, however, the Ashbrook campaign obtained very few endorsements from prominent conservatives (McCloskey did little better for endorsements): nearly everyone was in the President’s corner.

The Ashbrook campaign did have the advantage of drawing upon the organizational resources of Young Americans for Freedom, which supported him enthusiastically. Working from its New England base in Providence, Rhode Island, YAF bussed in groups of 30 to 50 students at a time from New England, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania to help out at state headquarters in Concord and to campaign door-to-door on the candidate’s behalf. The YAF New England coordinator, Ron Pearson, volunteered his full-time effort to the campaign in February.108

In the end, though, the voters would decide. On January 26, campaigning in Littleton, Ashbrook said he might enter primaries in Indiana, Nebraska, Tennessee, California, and one of the Carolinas if he did “reasonably well” in New Hampshire. He defined “doing reasonably well” as finishing ahead of McCloskey, “although our primary goal is still to defeat the President.”109 In the event, he accomplished neither of those goals, as the results were the following:

Richard M. Nixon 79,239 (76.6%)
Paul N. McCloskey 23,190 (19.8%)
John M. Ashbrook 11,362 (9.7%)
Others 3,417 (2.9%)

Although Ashbrook had little reason to be very pleased with the results in New Hampshire, Paul McCloskey, had even less in view of the investment of time and money he had made in the state, and thus on March 10 he announced his withdrawal from the presidential race to seek re-election to the House of Representatives. In his withdrawal announcement he commented that the President could “take very small comfort in the fact that 30 per cent of the Republicans in New Hampshire voted against him.”110 the New Hampshire primary, however, marked the low point of the Nixon renomination effort: thereafter he never polled under 81% of the Republican vote in a state primary. And John Ashbrook, though he had not met his goals in New Hampshire, decided to stick with his campaign.

Florida

The Florida primary was scheduled for March 14, only a week after the New Hampshire primary, and thus John Ashbrook was obliged to divide his time in February between the two states. Here too he was handicapped by his late start and an acute shortage of funds: he told the press then that he had allotted only 14 days to personal campaigning and spent only about $8,000 on Florida.111 By about February 15 he had established a state headquarters in Coral Gables and appointed Shirley Spellerberg, a Republican State Committeewoman from Dade County, as his state chairman after she had issued a statement declaring it would be “hypocritical” of her to conceal her support for the Ohio Republican when “his political philosophy so closely parallels my own.”112

Other prominent Republicans in the state proved not so steadfast as Mrs. Spellerberg, even though Florida had reportedly harbored much pro-Reagan sentiment during the 1968 campaign. Initially some Republicans thought Ashbrook would do quite well in Florida: soon after the Ashbrook announcement State Chairman L.E. (Tommy) Thomas surmised that he might draw as much as 25% of the vote, because “many Florida Republican leaders are deeply upset with Nixon’s foreign and domestic policies.”113 The White House, displeased at such predictions, brought pressure to bear upon Thompson, so he soon was predicting “disaster” for Ashbrook and “importing a dazzling horde of conservative celebrities to trumpet for the President.”114

Ashbrook campaigned throughout the state in his personal style, though since the principal newspaper in the state — the Miami Herald — was not very sympathetic to him, we lack details on his appearances. On February 23, like several other presidential candidates he spoke before the state legislature on such subjects as busing (it “tends to reinforce and perpetuate the inequities it seeks to eliminate”) and the centralization of power in Washington (“I believe that the number one issue before the country is bringing the government under control and dispersing some of its powers.”) Reporters of this event felt that his audience was not “fully attentive,” and gave him merely “polite applause” at the conclusion of his remarks.115

But when the votes were in, the results were once more a disappointment to the Republican challenger. George Wallace, who addressed many of the same issues as Ashbrook in Florida, came in an easy first in the Democratic primary, polling more than 526,000 votes, whereas the results in the Republican primary were as follows:

Richard M. Nixon 360,278 (87.0%)
John M. Ashbrook 36,617 (8.8%)
Paul McCloskey 17,312 (4.2%)

Earlier the Ohioan had declared that he would be severely damaged if he received less than 10% in Florida,116 but after election day he put a brave front on the situation before the Miami Herald, declaring he was “not disappointed,” though he had hoped for 15-20%: “I know I feel better about the results than at least eight other candidates that I know of, including my friend John Lindsay” who had polled 6.5% in the Democratic primary).117 Ashbrook knew he was on the right side of the issue, but somehow he had not managed to put his personal candidacy across. As he mused to a reporter:

I think the Florida vote, taking Democrats and Republicans together, proved my point that the electorate is more conservative than generally believed. But it seems to have been a case of mistaken identity. The people voted for the issues I’ve been talking about, busing and school prayer, but somehow this was translated into votes for Mr. Nixon and not me.118

The actual outcome, then, was inconclusive: he had almost met the number of votes he had set as his minimum, but not quite, not enough by any means to breathe great life into his campaign. And so he would concentrate on Indiana and California from then on out.

California

Indiana turned out to be a severe disappointment, for the Ashbrook organization was put in place so late that it was unable quite to comply with the signature requirements in every congressional district by the filing deadline. On April 5 the Ashbrook campaign sued in the U.S. District Court in Indianapolis to be placed on the ballot for the May 2 election, on the grounds that the “law was vague,”119 but when this legal effort failed, Ashbrook undertook no campaign in Indiana. That circumstance at least permitted him to concentrate his attention on California, where, with the election on June 6, he had some lead time as well as some vociferous support.

Ashbrook had declined to enter the California race some time before, while still campaigning in New Hampshire, announcing from his Concord headquarters on February 9 that he would go to California “because of my deep concern over the direction our country is moving under the present administration.”120 The announcement was made in the form of a letter to Trevor Roberts of Atherton, California, who was slated to head his 9-member state committee.121

The Ashbrook campaign received solid support in California from conservative organizations and from disaffected conservative groupings within the Republican Party. California Young Americans for Freedom endorsed him on May 19, for instance,122 and the conservative women’s leader Phyllis Schlafly spoke at a fundraising luncheon at La Mesa near San Diego on his behalf on April 18.123 But the most important battle occurred within the United Republicans of California, a group established in 1963 to support the Goldwater candidacy. As early as September of 1971 UROC, deeply displeased by the Nixon policies, had proposed that California send an uncommitted slate to the San Diego convention even though the incumbent was a Californian. When that failed, UROC turned to supporting the Ashbrook campaign and putting together a California delegate slate for him as early as January.124 In February UROC made an effort to endorse Ashbrook outright, but its Bylaws prevented it from doing so until later.125 In early April the California Republican Assembly, a more moderately conservative group, had endorsed Nixon, though by a vote of 211-86 (with a substantial minority opposed) for a resolution which also criticized the President for “deviations from the 1968 platform,” and at that only after intensive lobbying by leading conservatives in support of the President.126 UROC endorsed Ashbrook enthusiastically in early May, after the candidate addressed its convention on May 6 in what must have been a heartening occasion for him: the press reported that his speech was interrupted by applause 26 times, and at the end he received “several standing ovations.”127 The organization then backed the challenger by a vote of 521-60, with 16 abstentions, collected nearly $8,000 in campaign contributions and passed several anti-Nixon resolutions. These actions provoked one of UROC’s founders, Joseph Crosby, to resign because he felt it had gone “so far to the right that it has lost its effectiveness as a Republican organization.”128

In the meantime, work on assembling the slate of Ashbrook delegates was completed in plenty of time for the election, under the honorary chairmanship of Leland Kaiser, the Ashbrook Finance Director. Trevor Roberts, who had worked on the slate, spoke to reporters of a “deep disenchantment in the Republican Party” with the Nixon presidency, and claimed that even many of those on the Nixon slate were in “agony” over having to support him rather than join with such staunch conservatives as Congressman John Schmitz and Mrs. Walter Brennan in backing Ashbrook.129

Immediately after the UROC endorsement Ashbrook traveled to San Francisco to deliver an enthusiastically received speech at the Commonwealth Club, only a few days before Nelson Rockefeller and Ronald Reagan were to appear there jointly in a show of party unity on behalf of Richard Nixon. Ashbrook backed a strong policy in Vietnam (President Nixon had just ordered the mining of North Vietnamese ports and the interdiction of supply lines to the south, in a move which aroused considerable domestic protest), saying he was “running against a spirit of appeasement in this country.”130 Unfortunately he found something of that spirit even in the seemingly firm Nixon actions, which he characterized in a press conference on that same day as “too little, too late.” In addition, he defined a central contradiction in the President’s attitude toward our communist enemies: on the one hand he “branded (North Vietnam) as an aggressor,” yet on the other he indicated he still wished to go on with the Moscow summit scheduled for that same month.131

Although many commentators thought the Soviet Union would cancel the Nixon visit in protest against his actions in North Vietnam, nothing of the sort occurred. The summit was held as scheduled, and President Nixon concluded several major agreements, including SALT I, later in May, when he visited Moscow. Ashbrook had long been skeptical of the President’s efforts to reach an accord with the Soviets on arms issues: in an analysis of the President’s State of the World message delivered in mid-February, Ashbrook had correctly noted that “the SALT talks have become the capstone of (President Nixon’s) policy toward the Soviet Union, not his promised plan to restore the preeminence of U.S. military strength.”132

Since Ashbrook’s position on SALT was well known and he was a presidential candidate, he finally benefited from a leak which might have given him a major issue to use in the campaign. On May 23 Ashbrook called a press conference in Washington to announce the provisions of the impending SALT agreement, given to him by a “highly placed and respected source,” which he found appalling, for they would, he believed, “doom the United States to nuclear inferiority.” On this occasion the New York Times,recognizing the importance of the topic, ran a front-page article, but treated the story in a very special way. The bulk of the articles dealt with the details of the agreements: it mentioned Ashbrook as infrequently as possible, and when it cited his negative assessments of the agreements countered them with quite different evaluations attributed to an unnamed “senior Administration official” (one may conjecture that he was Henry Kissenger).133 Thus when Ashbrook expressed concern that the Soviets could achieve a 5-to-1 advantage in deliverable warheads by 1977 if they took advantage of all the “options” available to them, his views were gently dismissed and he was given no lasting credit for trying to raise a central defense issue.

Personally John Ashbrook hoped he might garner as much as 20% of the California vote, thinking that if he did that well he might even take his campaign to the floor of the San Diego convention.134 But the results in California were again a disappointment, with Ashbrook obtaining just under 10%:

Richard M. Nixon 2,058,825 (90.1%)
John M. Ashbrook 224,922 (9.8%)

The names of Ashbrook and McCloskey were placed on several other state ballots independently of them, and in the end John Ashbrook received a national total of some 311,000 votes, 5% of the total number cast in Republican primaries, most of which came from California.

On June 7, 1972, John Ashbrook announced from Washington his decision to withdraw from the presidential contest. Having failed to make a sufficient personal impact through his candidacy, he said, he would work to insure instead that the “principles that made our party great” were included in the 1972 Republican platform.135

Thus ended, in a formal sense, the Ashbrook challenge to Nixonian policies from the right. As he had promised, John Ashbrook took his campaign on issues to the platform committee deliberations in Miami Beach in August, but he remained bitter about the President. At the height of the enthusiasm in California he had gone so far as to tell newsmen that he “would not support Nixon’s reelection campaign,”136 but by August he had decided to back Nixon “with great reluctance,” and work for Vice President Agnew as his successor in 1976. “I hope before this campaign is over,” he commented, “there will be something nice I can say about Nixon….I can’t see myself selling deficit spending, his welfare proposals, or hands across the caviar with the Russians.”137 Richard Nixon went on to take the Republican nomination and sweep to a crushing victory over George McGovern, reaching for a short time the heights of political prestige.

 

Chapter Five: Assessing the Ashbrook Campaign

Political campaigns are complex phenomena, and even with the benefit of hindsight one can never assess them totally objectively. At the time, it was very difficult indeed to evaluate the Ashbrook challenge. Some – like Don Oberdorfer, writing in the Arizona Republic – thought it an unqualified failure. Ashbrook’s showing, Oberdorfer wrote in June of 1972, was “particularly feeble in view of President Nixon’s many offenses against conservative orthodoxy, and the end result of the “Ashbrook fizzle” was to “give Mr. Nixon even greater flexibility than before,” which showed that the “ideological conservatism of the hard right” was in “decline.”138 On the other hand, William Loeb proclaimed John Ashbrook a “man of honor” who “should be proud of the trumpet call he has given to the United States.”139

The man nearest to the campaign, John Ashbrook himself, maintained that he had “accomplished a great deal,” more than his critics would admit. His California vote, he said, was only the “tip of discontent within our party,” and the campaign had been worth doing if only for its “educational aspects.” But beyond that, he was certain, his candidacy had helped to procure the veto of the Child Development Act, increases in the defense budget, and Spiro Agnew’s retention on the ticket. “The lesson to be learned from this campaign,” he concluded, “is that steady, solid pressure from conservatives does pay off.”140

Now, at a remove of 12 years from the Ashbrook presidential campaign, how are we to assess its place in the history of American politics?

It must be admitted at the outset that in raw political terms the Ashbrook effort was not very successful. In the three states in which he campaigned actively, Ashbrook received consistently just under 10% of the vote. It might also be noted that – with the exception of Florida – wherever John Ashbrook and Paul McCloskey were on the same ballot, McCloskey drew about twice as many votes as Ashbrook, although the absolute numbers involved in all these instances were small. This fact by itself might lead one to conclude that left-wing dissatisfaction with President Nixon within the Republican Party was roughly twice as strong as right-wing disaffection. Intuitively, however, we know this cannot be the case: as Ashbrook put it in an interview of February 1972, he had to contend with the “very deep loyalty that characterizes conservatives,”141 a loyalty accorded especially to presidential incumbents, that was quite difficult to loosen. That fact in itself would have worked against any conservative insurgency in 1972.

And the Ashbrook campaign did not come into being under the best of circumstances. The Manhattan Twelve took some time to decide they needed a candidate, although they never really considered anyone other than Ashbrook because they thought no other serious candidate would accept.142 Ashbrook announced his candidacy only at the very end of 1971, a good six months after Paul McCloskey had raised the banner of insurgency on the left. The organization of a presidential campaign – no small task in the best of circumstances – had to be done extremely hastily for Ashbrook to enter the New Hampshire primary. Moreover, the campaign had a full-time manager for only 2½ months, and suffered from the candidate’s reluctance to delegate authority. Organizational problems were compounded by financial weakness: the campaign was run on by a mere shoestring, partly because large Republican contributors knew they would face the displeasure of the White House if they supported the Ashbrook insurgency. Some of McCloskey’s large contributors (Norton Simon, Max Palevsky), on the other hand, were also supporting George McGovern and in any case cared little about the wrath of the White House since they were primarily anti-war Democrats.

Ashbrook was well known in organized conservative circles, but he had little reputation among rank and file Republican voters. When he entered the campaign the major newspapers and television networks gave him a brief flurry of attention, then paid him only sporadic notice, especially since his standing in the polls was poor. The central media tended to dismiss him as an ultraconservative ideologue, and therefore declined even to discuss his ideas seriously, much less promote his candidacy with any zeal. To be sure, he had the unusual advantage, for a conservative, of strong support from the leading newspaper in the first state he contested, but his late start and his floundering local organization kept him from doing very well even there.

Ashbrook also faced the formidable handicap of fighting his political battle almost alone, with the support of a mere handful of Republican officeholders. Not a single truly prominent conservative officeholder could be found to support him strongly, and most condemned him: many of them looked less negatively upon the McCloskey candidacy, though partly because they did not consider it a threat. The ordinary conservative Republican voter, hearing the leading conservative voices unanimously denigrating the Ashbrook effort, naturally tended to conclude that his was indeed a Quixotic quest.

The Ashbrook candidacy also suffered from a certain negativism. In the years before such organizations as the Heritage Foundation came into being to formulate ideas for conservative legislation, conservative candidates had few if any legislative proposals of their own to make: they simply opposed whatever the liberals wanted to do. In 1972 John Ashbrook could do little but criticize and condemn the liberal initiatives of Richard Nixon. By 1980 Ronald Reagan had a panoply of positively conservative proposals to advocate in his winning presidential campaign. But this was, of course, no fault of John Ashbrook’s: it was related to the historical development of the conservative movement at the time.

Still another weakness of the Ashbrook campaign was its orientation toward defense and especially foreign policy issues – our relations with the Soviet Union, arms negotiations, the President’s reversal of our longstanding China policy, the problem of communism generally – which do not especially interest the ordinary voter, even though they are quite important for the future of the nation.

For all these reasons, then, the Ashbrook candidacy never realized its full potential.

Still, at the beginning it was not at all clear to the Nixon White House that this would be the case. It realized that Ashbrook appealed to the same constituency which had elected Richard Nixon in 1968, and there was a distinct possibility that his campaign might strike a responsive chord with the electorate. And even if it did not, John Ashbrook troubled the consciences of some in the White House: as he put it succinctly at the start of his quest, the administration “is not afraid of the Ashbrook candidacy. It’s the Ashbrook case that worries them. It’s a good case and one which cannot really be answered.”143 One must agree with the candidate’s assessment at that time that if the White House had not been seeking to avert and then to neutralize the Ashbrook candidacy, the President might very well not have vetoed the Child Development Act, taken steps to deal with the busing issue as he did during the Florida campaign, or decided to retain Spiro Agnew as his running mate. Until John Ashbrook made his decision, all the significant political pressures in the presidential race – with the exception of the Wallace vote – were coming from the left, and the President naturally tended to move leftward to accommodate them. The McCloskey campaign had sought to move him toward the left, and after a bullet removed George Wallace from contention on May 15, 1972, all the political vectors in the Democratic Party were pointing to the far left, and the nomination of George McGovern. If the Ashbrook campaign accomplished nothing else, it restored some balance to the political pressures within the Republican Party. But in a real sense the major achievement of the Ashbrook campaign was that it preserved the conscience of the conservative movement in this country; it meant that the Republican Party has put forward a strong voice of conservative principle in every presidential election from 1964 to 1984. By 1971 any objective observer of American politics had to admit that President Nixon had jettisoned some very major elements of the conservative platform on which he had been elected in 1968, and those conservatives who took their beliefs seriously could not possibly defend a number of his actions. The question was what should be done about it. The prominent conservative leaders defended the President as best they could, but in the end they were reduced to arguing that the country could not risk a McGovern presidency, not that the Nixon presidency was a positive good. The conservative intellectuals, on the other hand, maintained that since the President had departed so far from Republican principle, it was important to offer the voters a choice of positive good rather than a choice between evils, and that it was possible to advance conservative positions effectively in a presidential year only through a presidential candidate. John Ashbrook stepped forward on behalf of the conservative movement to offer the public a true choice between loyalty to principle and loyalty to an individual. Republican voters generally preferred loyalty to an individual, as it turned out, and the Republican Party paid dearly for that mindset in 1974.

The Ashbrook challenge also helped prepare the ground for the conservative third-party effort through the American Party for the general election of 1972 mounted by Congressman John Schmitz of California: after a hastily organized and poorly financed campaign, he still polled more than a million votes in November. And it provided a precedent for the Reagan challenge to an incumbent President in 1976: though that challenge fell short, it cleared the way for President Reagan’s nomination and election in 1980. It demonstrated that conservatives within the Republican Party cannot simply be taken for granted, and that the simple exercise of power for its own sake is not enough: the office-holder must wield power for the good of the nation and of the world for that power to be truly legitimate.

 

About the Author

Dr. Charles A. Moser is Professor of Slavic and currently Chairman of the Department of Slavic Languages at the George Washington University, where he has taught since 1967. The holder of degrees from Yale and Colombia, he taught at Yale University from 1960 to 1967. In the area of public policy, he is the author of studies dealing with the Federal budget, the Social Security system, and business regulation published by The Heritage Foundation. Under the auspices of the Free Congress Foundation – which he serves as treasurer-he has published The Speaker and the House: Coalitions and Power in the United States House of Representatives (1979); Watershed and Ratifying Elections: A Historical View of the 1934 and 1954 Midterm Congressional Elections (1982); A Lesson in Framing the Issues: The British Election of 1983 (1983); and Combat on Communist Territory(1985), containing studies of contemporary and anti-communist insurgencies.

 

Footnotes

1. See the text and list of signatories in the lead article “Leading Conservatives ‘Suspend Support’ of Nixon,”Human Events, August 7, 1971, p. 1. Return to text.

2. Robert Sherrill, “Why John Ashbrook is Running for President of the United States,” Saturday Review, June 3, 1972, p.16. Return to text.

3. Ibid. Return to text.

4. John Pierson, “An Ultraconservative Campaigns to Return Nixon to ‘Right’ Path,” Wall Street Journal, December 28, 1971. Return to text.

5. Tom Braden, “President Looking Very Strong,”Washington Post, January 4, 1972. Return to text.

6. Editorial “Are There Any Issues?” New York Times, January 31, 1972. Return to text.

7. “Nixon Vow of Change Unfulfilled – Ashbrook,”Manchester Union Leader February 17, 1972. Ashbrook was speaking at Durham, New Hampshire.Return to text.

8. Updated press release from the United Republicans of California on the subject of an Ashbrook appearance before UROC: Human Events archive. Return to text.

9. “Abortion, Pot Studied by G.O.P.,” Chicago Tribune,August 15, 1972. Return to text.

10. Sherrill, op. cit., p. 21. Return to text.

11. Jack Rosenthal, “Ashbrook, Nixon’s Rival on the Right, Finding Florida Campaign Trail Rough,” New York Times, February 15, 1972. Return to text.

12. Congressional Record, Return to text.

13. Wall Street Journal, January 31, 1972. Return to text.

14. “Change Anyone?” Congressional Record, July 31, 1971, p. 28561. Return to text.

15. “Has Red China Changed?” Congressional Record, July 28, 1971, p. 27719. Return to text.

16. Ibid., 27721. Return to text.

17. “The U.N. the Best Hope?” Congressional Record, December 1, 1917, p. 43901. Return to text.

18. The speech is printed on pp. 47230-47234. Return to text.

19. Ibid., p. 47231 Return to text.

20. Ibid., p. 47230 Return to text.

21. Ibid., p. 47231 Return to text.

22. Ibid., p. 47232 Return to text.

23. Ibid. Return to text.

24. Ashbrook for President press release on June 1, 1972, from California: Human Events archive. Return to text.

25. Op. cit., p.47234. Return to text.

26. Ibid., p. 47233 Return to text.

27. Ibid., p. 47234 Return to text.

28. Memorandum in the Human Events archive from William Rusher to Stan Evans, Tom Winter, and Ron Docksai, dated December 22, 1971. On the dinner: a letter from William Rusher to the author, August 10, 1984.Return to text.

29. There is a full-length book on McCloskey by Lou Cannon: The McCloskey Challenge (New York: Dutton, 1972). The foreword is dated August 1971, which means the book can deal only very peripherally with the presidential race. Cannon admires McCloskey, but sees him as suffering from tunnel vision on the issue of the war. In any case the book lacks substance. Return to text.

30. UPI wire story of March 2, 1972: Human Eventsarchive. Return to text.

31. “A Small Paul Revere,” Time, December 20, 1971, p.11. Return to text.

32. Ken Clawson, “Ashbrook May Oppose Nixon in 72,”Washington Post, December 7, 1971. Return to text.

33. Letter to the author from William Rusher, August 10, 1984. Return to text.

34. Press Report from Ottenad, December 16, 1971:Human Events archive. Return to text.

35. Letter to the author from William Rusher, August 10, 1984; memorandum to the file by William Rusher, December 21, 1971. Return to text.

36. Editorial “For Republicans Who Resent Being Taken for Granted,” Manchester Union Leader, December 9, 1971. Return to text.

37. “Ashbrook gets Loeb’s Support,” Manchester Union Leader, December 22, 1971. Return to text.

38. “Child Development Legislation Should be Defeated,”Congressional Record, November 17, 1971, p. 41890.Return to text.

39. James Doyle, “Ashbrook Decides to Take on Nixon in GOP Primaries,” Washington Star, December 16, 1971. Return to text.

40. Ken Clawson, “News of Ashbrook Challenge Perils Nixon Bid to Pacify Conservatives,” Washington Post, December 8, 1971. Return to text.

41. “A Small Paul Revere,” p. 11. Return to text.

42. William Rusher, Rise of the Right (New York, 1984), p. 245. Return to text.

43. “4 Responses Listed,” New York Times, December 3, 1971. Return to text.

44. The text was published on the first page of Human Events for Jaunary 8, 1972. Return to text.

45. “Ashbrook Enters Presidency Race,” New York Times, December 30, 1971. Return to text.

46. Adam Clymer, “Ashbrook Puts Conservatives in ’72 Race Against Nixon,” Baltimore Sun, December 30, 1971. Return to text.

47. Editorial “…and Rumble on the Right,” New York Times, December 11, 1971. Return to text.

48. John Coyne Jr., “Ashbrook a Victim of the Stassen Bug’s Bite,” Arizona Republic February 10, 1972.Return to text.

49. Memorandum in Human Events archive. Return to text.

50. George Lardner Jr., “Ohio Rightist Vows Rebellion Against Nixon,” Washington Post February 10, 1972.Return to text.

51. Jack Rosenthal, “Ashbrook, Nixon’s Rival on the Right, Finding Florida Campaign Trail Rough,” New York Times, February 15, 1972. Return to text.

52. James Doyle, “Ashbrook Plays Hamlet on Taking up GOP Arms,” Washington Star, December 8, 1971.Return to text.

53. Press Release of December 13, 1971: Human Events archinve. Return to text.

54. See photograph of the two of them on page 15 of theManchester Union Leader for January 1, 1972. Return to text.

55. Letter from Paul McCloskey Jr. to the author, June 12, 1984. Return to text.

56. James Doyle, “Ashbrook Plays Hamlet on Taking up GOP Arms,” Washington Star, December 8, 1971.Return to text.

57. John Pierson “An Ultraconservative Campaigns to Return Nixon to ‘Right’ Path,” Wall Street Journal, December 28, 1971 Return to text.

58. Morton Kondracke, “A Republican Challenges Nixon,” Chicago Sun Times December 30, 1971.Return to text.

59. Interview with Ron Pearson, May 11, 1984. Return to text.

60. Richard L. Madden, “Wandering Bills Is a House Whodunit,” New York Times February 5, 1972 Return to text.

61. Martin Arnold, “President’s Trip Raises a Dilemma for State’s Conservative Party,” New York Times February 23, 1972. Return to text.

62. “On the Campaign Trail,” Washington Daily News, January 14, 1972, p. 36. Return to text.

63. “Lead-off Primary: Nixon Faces Test Within Party,”US News, February 14, 1972, p. 36. Return to text.

64. Barry Goldwater column of January 2, 1972: “Nixon Unjustly Chided by Conservatives”: Human Eventsarchives. Return to text.

65. “Off and Running for ’72,” Time, January 10, 1972, p. 12. Return to text.

66. Column by General Thomas A. Lane, “The Ashbrook Challenge to Nixon,” December 28, 1971: Human Events archive. Return to text.

67. Editorial “Why Ashbrook?” Manchester Union Leader, December 31, 1971. Return to text.

68. Jack Bell, “GOP Right Courts Setback,” Rockford Morning Star, no date: Human Events archive. Return to text.

69. Column by John Chamberlain, “Nixon Backtracks Toward the Right,” December 22, 1971: Human Eventsarchive. Return to text.

70. James J. Kilpatrick, “Conservatives and Mr. Nixon,” column of December 30, 1971: Human Eventsarchive.Return to text.

71. Editorial “Ashbrook’s Race,” Indianapolis News, January 4, 1972. Return to text.

72. Jeffrey Hart, “The Ashbrook Candidacy,”Manchester Union Leader, January 10, 1972. Return to text.

73. Column by Holmes Alexander, “Do We Want to Censure the President,” January 12, 1972: Human Events archive. Return to text.

74. Ralph de Toledano column, “Ashbrook and the Republican Nomination,” January 5, 1972: Human Events archive. Return to text.

75. Editorial “Dream Candidates,” Dallas Morning News, December 21, 1971. Return to text.

76. John Coyne Jr., “Wallace Campaign Aided by Ashbrook Candidacy,” Arizona Republic, January 13, 1972. Return to text.

77. Editorial “Sisyphus and Mr. Ashbrook,” Richmond News Leader, January 4, 1972. Return to text.

78. James Naughton, “White House Discounts Bid by Ashbrook,” New York Times, January 2, 1972. Return to text.

79. Editorial “Representative Ashbrook’s Protest,”Washington Post, January 3, 1972. Return to text.

80. Editorial “The Conservative Don Quixote,” Wall Street Journal, January 6, 1972. Return to text.

81. Editorial “Rain Dance” New York Times, December 30, 1971. Return to text.

82. Editorial “Mr. Nixon Announces,” New York Times, January 9, 1972. Return to text.

83. Editorial “Congressman Ashbrook vs. President Nixon,” Baltimore Sun December 30, 1971. Return to text.

84. Editorial “Critics to the Left, Critics to the Right,”Boston Herald Traveler, December 28, 1971. Return to text.

85. Editorial “Conservatives,” Milwaukee Sentinel, January 2, 1972. Return to text.

86. Editorial “By All Means,” The Nation, January 3, 1972, p. 4. Return to text.

87. John Pierson, “An Ultraconservative Campaigns to Return Nixon to ‘Right’ Path,” Wall Street Journal, December 28, 1971. Return to text.

88. Warren Weaver, Jr., “Ad for M’Govern Disturbs Muskie,” New York Times, February 2, 1972; “Ashbrook Picks Up Nixon’s Fund-raiser,” St. Petersburg Times, February 1, 1972. Return to text.

89. “Nixon and Hartke Entered in Primaries,” New York Times, January 4, 1972. Return to text.

90.”Nixon, Hartke Enter Race,” Manchester Union Leader, January 4, 1972. Return to text.

91. “Rep. Ashbrook Gains Required Signatures,”Manchester Union Leader, January 5, 1972. Return to text.

92. “Three More in Race,” New York Times, January 7, 1972. Return to text.

93. “Seven Meet N.H. Primary Deadline,” Manchester Union Leader, January 7, 1972. Return to text.

94. “Nixon Far Ahead In N.H. Poll,” Washington Post, February 7, 1972. Return to text.

95. “Poll in New Hampshire Gives Nixon 5-to-1 Lead,”New York Times, February 6, 1972. Return to text.

96. Sylvan Fox, “58% Back Muskie in New Hampshire Poll,” New York Times, February 18, 1972. Return to text.

97. “Rep. Ashbrook Returns Today to Campaign,”Manchester Union Leader, January 12, 1972; “Ashbrook Cites Nixon’s Failure on ’68 Pledges,” ibid., January 14, 1972. Return to text.

98. “McGovern Aide Says Muskie Poll ‘Means Very Little’,” Manchester Union Leader, January 26, 1972.Return to text.

99. “Ashbrook Ready for 7 Contests,” Manchester Union Leader, January 27, 1972. Return to text.

100. “Rep. Ashbrook Raps Value Added Tax Plan,”Manchester Union Leader, February 15, 1972. Return to text.

101. “Ashbrook Raps Revenue Sharing,” Manchester Union Leader, February 16, 1972. Return to text.

102. “Nixon Vow of Change Unfulfilled—Ashbrook,”Manchester Union Leader, February 17, 1972. Return to text.

103. Nancy Meersman, “Buckley Endorses Ashbrook,”Manchester Union Leader, March 1, 1972. Return to text.

104. Michael O’Connor, “New Hampshire Observers Say Nixon Can’t Lose,” San Diego Union, February 14, 1972. Return to text.

105. John Pierson, “From the Left and Right, McCloskey, Ashbrook Tug, Futilely, at Nixon,” Wall Street Journal, February 4, 1972 Return to text.

106. On this controversy, see “Big Union Ready to Back Muskie,” New York Times, January 19, 1972; “Howard Explains Why He Quit,” Manchester Union Leader, January 20, 1972; “Nixon’s Delegate Hopefuls Recorded,” Manchester Union Leader, January 21, 1972. Return to text.

107. “Ashbrook Primary Efforts Applauded,”Manchester Union Leader, February 22, 1972. Return to text.

108. Interview with Ron Pearson, May 11, 1984. Return to text.

109. “Ashbrook Ready for 7 Contests,” Manchester Union Leader January 27, 1972. Return to text.

110. Wallace Turner, “McCloskey Drops Challenge to Nixon,” New York Times, March 11, 1972. Return to text.

111. Robert B. Semple Jr., “William Buckley Quits U.S.I.A. Post,” New York Times, March 16, 1972.Return to text.

112. Statement of Shirley Spellerberg in support of John Ashbrook, no date: Human Events archive. Return to text.

113. “Ashbrook Entry in Primary Causes Stir in State GOP,” Miami Herald, January 2, 1972. Return to text.

114. Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, “Crusade Against Ashbrook Washington Post, February 14, 1972.Return to text.

115. “Ashbrook Scores Busing Before Florida Legislature,” New York Times, February 24, 1972; “Straw Vote on Busing Helpful, Ashbrook Says to Legislators,” Miami Herald, February 24, 1972. Return to text.

116. “Ashbrook Pinning His Hopes on Florida,” Arizona Republic, February 9, 1972. Return to text.

117. “Ashbrook 9% Total Not a Letdown.” Miami Herald, March 15, 1972. Return to text.

118. Robert B. Semple, Jr., “William Buckley Quits U.S.I.A. Post,” New York Times, March 16, 1972.Return to text.

119. “Ashbrook Sues to Get on Ballot in Indiana,” New York Times, April 6, 1972. Return to text.

120. “Candidates Roam Granite Hills; Ashbrook Will Enter California Race,” Manchester Union Leader, February 10, 1972. Return to text.

121. “Ashbrook Plans to Combat Nixon in State Primary,” San Diego Union, February 10, 1972. Return to text.

122. “Support for Ashbrook,” New York Times, May 20, 1972. Return to text.

123. “Ashbrook Backer Assails President,” San Diego Union, April 19, 1972. Return to text.

124. Everett R. Holles, “Anti-Nixon Drive Is Gaining Among Conservatives in California,” New York Times, January 16, 1972. Return to text.

125. UROC press release of February 1972: Human Events archive. Return to text.

126. “Will California Be Ashbrook’s Ace?” Human Events, April 22, 1972. Return to text.

127. George Dissinger, “GOP Group Backs Ashbrook,”San Diego Evening Tribune, May 8, 1972. Return to text.

128. Robert E. Cox, “UROC Endorses Ashbrook, Assails Nixon on Russia,” San Diego Union, May 8, 1972. Return to text.

129. Wallace Turner, “G.O.P. Right Fights Nixon Coast Slate,” New York Times, March 6, 1972. Return to text.

130. George Murphy, “Ashbrook on Nixon, Economy, War,” San Francisco Chronicle, May 9, 1972. Return to text.

131. “Ashbrook Doubts Nixon on Vietnam,” San Diego Union, May 9, 1972. Return to text.

132. “Ashbrook Says Russia Speeds Arms Buildup,”Manchester Union Leader, February 15, 1972. Return to text.

133. Bernard Gwertzman, “Accord Expected to Offset Missile Totals and Power,” New York Times, May 24, 1972. Return to text.

134. Robert Sherrill, “Why John Ashbrook is Running for President of the United States,” Saturday Review, June 3, 1972, p. 22. Return to text.

135. “Ashbrook to Take Fight to G.O.P. Platform Unit,”New York Times, June 8, 1972. Return to text.

136. George Dissinger, “GOP Group Backs Ashbrook,”San Diego Evening Tribune, May 8, 1972. Return to text.

137. “Ashbrook Backs Nixon ‘With Great Reluctance’,”New York Times, August 25, 1972. Return to text.

138. Don Oberdorfer, “Has Nixon Muzzled the Right?”Arizona Republic, June 21, 1972. Return to text.

139. Editorial “The Ashbrook Trumpet,” Manchester Union Leader, June 22, 1972. Return to text.

140. Transcript of the Remarks by John Ashbrook, probably June 1972; Human Events archive. Return to text.

141. Jack Rosenthal, “Ashbrook, Nixon’s Rival on the Right, Finding Florida Campaign Trail Rough,” New York Times, February 15, 1972. Return to text.

142. Interview with Jeff Bell, May 29, 1984. Return to text.

143. “Ashbrook Deplores Arms Cut,” New Hampshire Sunday News, January 16, 1972. Return to text.

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