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State Political Conventions (1968)

KPRC-TV

Sound | 1968

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  •  Then Lieutenant Governor Preston Smith delivers the keynote address at the Texas Democratic Convention at the Palmer Auditorium in Austin on September 16, 1968. In 1998, the City of Austin leased the Palmer Auditorium to the nonprofit group Arts Center Stage to renovate the building into a community performing arts venue. The Long Center for the Performing Arts opened in 2008. 
  •  Governor John Connally approaches the lectern 
  •  Texas Attorney General Crawford Martin and Speaker of the Texas House Ben Barnes applaud 
  •  Then State Senator Barbara Jordan shares her disappointment in the lack of enthusiasm for presidential nominee Hubert Humphrey at the state convention 
  •  Texas Republican Convention at the historic Hotel Texas in Fort Worth on September 17, 1968 
  •  Then Congressman George H. W. Bush 
  •  Maryland Governor Spiro Agnew, the Republican vice presidential nominee, delivers the keynote address 
  •  Republican gubernatorial nominee Paul Eggers 
  •  Texas convention for the American Independent Party at the Memorial Auditorium in Dallas on September 17, 1968. The venue is now known as the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center. 
  •  Third-party presidential candidate George Wallace addresses the convention. Wallace rose to national prominence through his opposition to racial integration as governor of Alabama. In 1963, he blocked the entrance to Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama in a symbolic attempt to prevent two African-American students from enrolling. The incident, later known as the “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door,” prompted President John F. Kennedy to federalize the Alabama National Guard to command Wallace to step aside. In the 1968 presidential election, Wallace ran as the American Independent Party candidate on a segregationist platform. He did not expect to win the race, but sought to garner enough electoral votes to prevent either major party candidate from winning the necessary majority. The House of Representatives would then decide the election, and Wallace hoped that southern states could use their influence to halt federal desegregation efforts. Wallace won five states, amassing 46 Electoral College votes. Republican candidate Richard Nixon nevertheless acquired enough electoral votes, 301, to handily win the election. 
 
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  • About the video
  • John Connally John Connally
  • Barbara Jordan Barbara Jordan
  • George H. W. Bush George H. W. Bush
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This news segment for Houston’s KPRC-TV captures the scene at the three main state political conventions before the 1968 election. The Texas Democratic Convention takes place at Austin’s Palmer Auditorium on September 16 and 17, 1968. In attendance are Governor John Connally, Lieutenant Governor Preston Smith, Speaker of the Texas House Ben Barnes, Texas Attorney General Crawford Martin, and State Senator Barbara Jordan. State Republicans gather at the GOP Convention at Fort Worth’s Hotel Texas on September 17. Maryland Governor and vice presidential nominee Spiro Agnew gives the keynote address. Then Congressman George H. W. Bush and gubernatorial nominee Paul Eggers also speak. The state convention for the American Independence Party occurs the same day at the Memorial Auditorium in Dallas. Third-party presidential candidate George Wallace speaks to the attending delegates. Some portions are silent and would have been voiced over by the anchorperson during a live broadcast.
The 38th Texas State Governor, John Bowden Connally Jr., was born on a farm near Floresville, Texas, on February 27, 1917. Connally graduated from the University of Texas in 1941 with a law degree and was subsequently admitted to the State Bar of Texas. He began his political career as a legislative assistant to Representative Lyndon B. Johnson in 1939. The two retained a close but often torrid friendship until LBJ’s death. After returning from U.S. Naval combat in the Pacific Theater, Connally joined an influential Austin law firm, served as LBJ’s campaign manager and aide, and became oil tycoon Sid W. Richardson’s legal counsel. Connally’s reputation as a political mastermind was solidified after managing five of LBJ’s major political campaigns, including the 1964 presidential election. In 1961, Connally served as Secretary of the Navy under President John F. Kennedy.
 
Wealthy financiers like Sid Richardson and a strong grass-roots network of supporters helped Connally win his first gubernatorial election in 1962. The three-term governor fought to expand higher education by increasing teachers’ salaries, creating new doctoral programs, and establishing the Texas Commission on the Arts and the Texas Historical Commission. In 1969, President Richard Nixon appointed Connally to the foreign-intelligence advisory board. He was named the sixty-first Secretary of Treasury in 1971. Connally became one of the President’s principal advisors and headed the Democrats for Nixon organization, finally switching to the Republican Party in 1973. Connally is also remembered nationally for being in the car with President Kennedy during his assasination in Dallas in 1963, when Connally received wounds in his chest, wrist, and thigh. 
 
The former Texas governor announced in January 1979 that he would seek the Republican presidential nomination. His campaign was abandoned after media attacks over a controversial public speech and bank partnership. Financial troubles befell Connally by the mid 1980s after a real estate development partnership with former Texas Representative Ben Barnes collapsed. John Connally died on June 15, 1993 and is interred at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.
Barbara Jordan was born in Houston's Fifth Ward in 1936, the daughter of a Baptist minister and domestic worker. Jordan attended Texas Southern University where she was a member of the debate team; she was the first woman to travel with the team, and along with debate partner Otis King, integrated tournaments in the South, consistently sweeping competitions. Jordan went on attend Boston University School of Law, finishing in 1959.
 
After practicing private law in Houston, again with Otis King, she entered the political arena. Jordan was the first African American elected to the Texas Senate since 1883 and the first southern black female elected to the United States House of Representatives. In 1976, Jordan was the first African-American woman to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, a speech that is still lauded as one of the best in modern history.
 
After retiring from politics in 1979, Jordan taught ethics at the University of Texas at Austin's Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. Among many other honors, Jordan was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994. In 1996, Barbara Jordan died of complications from pneumonia, a result of her battles with both multiple sclerosis and leukemia. She rests in the Texas State Cemetery, the first African-American woman to be buried there. 
George Herbert Walker Bush is the 41st President of the United States and the father of George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States. 
 
Bush was born on June 12, 1924, in Milton, Massachusetts, to Prescott Bush, a US senator from Connecticut, and Dorothy Walker Bush. He spent his youth in Greenwich, Connecticut, and Andover, Massachusetts, where he become involved in student government, sports, and the school newspaper. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, he became an aviator for the US Navy. 
 
Bush married Barbara Pierce in 1945, and they eventually had six children: George, Robin, John (called Jeb), Neil, Marvin, and Dorothy. After earning a degree from Yale University, Bush moved to Midland, Texas, to work in the oil industry, eventually starting two companies. The family then moved to Houston, where Bush began to pursue a career in politics and served as chairman of the Republican Party in Harris County. After a failed campaign for US Senate, he won an election to the US House of Representatives in 1966 and served two terms for Texas. In 1970, he attempted to win a seat in the Senate, but lost again. 
 
After this defeat, Bush was appointed by President Richard Nixon to be an ambassador to the United Nations. He then served as chairman of the Republican National Committee, chief of the US Liaison Office in the People's Republic of China, and director of the CIA. In 1980, Bush lost the Republican nomination for president, but was chosen as Ronald Reagan’s running mate. He was Vice President of the United States from 1981 to 1989. 
 
Following Reagan’s second term, Bush was elected president. During his term, he secured a peaceful partnership with Russia at the end of the Cold War, and he led Operation Desert Storm to free Kuwait from Iraq. Despite these successes, Bush’s popularity suffered due to the weak economy, and he lost reelection for a second term to Bill Clinton. He and Barbara returned to Houston in 1992, where they continue to live.