6A — Editona! Page — Saturday, Sept. 26, 1964
An Independent Newspaper
Wild Campaign Charges Can Cost
Candidates Votes and Public Respect
By PAUL MILLER
Somebody of prominence makes headlines
crying "dirty politics" in every campaign and
this week it was Sen. Karl Mundt of South
Dakota. Though a Republican, Sen. Mundt was
not assailing Democrats alone.
Responsible equally, he charged, are President Johnson and Sen. Goldwater, and their
vice presidential running mates, Sen. Hubert
Humphrey and Rep. William Miller.
Taking note of the name-calling back and
forth, Mundt asked:
"What kind of madness has overtaken
these candidates for office?
"They are honest, able, dedicated, highly
trained, patriotic individuals. They are not
crooks, vote-thieves, dopes, dupes, trigger
happy, or war-mongers."
If Mundt, a rugged old warhorse of the
political arena, is alarmed and fed up, what
of the ordinary voter? Some of us at the
newspapers believe we detect indications that
people are beginning to reject the wilder
. . . Preposterous
Take a column by Walter Lippmann, who
has conjured up some fearful imaginings as
to what would happen under a Goldwater administration. Liberal columnist Lippmann
wrote that one of Goldwater's "persistent
fantasies is that since the poor are a minority,
a great political result can be had by arousing
the rich against the poor."
How preposterous can they get? Yet
wilder charges have been made against Gold-
water. A neighbor's children came home from
school convinced that an atomic war will start
at once if Barry Goldwater becomes president.
There is enough to criticize about the
Goldwater campaign, including its lack of
specifics (so far) as to what a Goldwater administration would do, and how, with the
problems it says the Johnson administration
has failed to solve.
By overstating the case against so-called
Goldwaterism, which "ism" is whatever an
opponent may say it is on any given occasion,
his opponents have blunted their own weapons against him. People are beginning to reassess, then to ignore—as they also may be
largely ignoring all efforts to make something
sinister out of the Austin television station
beyond that it is in poor taste, at least, for
LBJ, as President, to hold onto it even indirectly.
Goldwater can be the chief beneficiary ot
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
"I admit that my Democratic opponent is going to have an advantage over
me when it comes to last-minute campaigning on election day. I have to take
time out to go to the polls, and he
doesn't, because he isn't eligible to vote
in New York."
— Sen. Kenneth B. Keating
"I don't know about you, but I think
I'll write in Stassen!"
public revulsion at campaign excesses, for he
has been the chief target.
But both presidential candidates can lose in
public respect. It is clear that far more Voters
than might have been suspected share the
view of the Washington preacher who concluded that he couldn't take either.
Will Sen. Mundt's outcry have any effect
on the campaign? Will the campaigners
soften their blows? If so, it will not be solely
because of Sen. Mundt. They may new more
to the issues if they find that some of the
public is responding with sympathy for a fellow it senses can't possibly be as "way out"
as he's painted.
. . . Each on Its Own
Editors and other executives of the 25
Gannett newspapers will devote an afternoon
at their annual conference next week to a discussion of the presidential campaign.
This may be the most absorbing session
of the annual get-together in the Gideon
Putnam Hotel at Saratoga Spa.
But the decisions as to which, if either,
candidate will be "endorsed" in the traditional practice of most newspapers will not
be made by any vote binding upon all. The
decision will be up to the various local managements.
Most of the newspapers of the Gannett
Group are in traditionally Republican territory, but few have any specific party allegiance. Like the Rochester newspapers,
most are politically independent.
Our group's Hartford Times, which supported John F. Kennedy in 1960 but had supported Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952 and
1956, came out yesterday for Lyndon B.
There is increasing debate among editors
as to the practice of "endorsing" presidential
candidates in any case. A good argument is
made by some against any formal endorsement whatever.
Others, like the Rochester newspapers
which have traditionally endorsed a candidate, feel somewhat trapped by the tradition
—failure to endorse this year, after years of
successive endorsement of Republican presidential candidates, could appear tantamount,
in the minds of some readers to endorsement of this year's Democratic standard-
. . . LBJ Waited
Meantime, the campaign warms up. Numbers of newspapers already have chosen. Yet
many a conscientious editor finds it somehow
repugnant to endorse, if endorsement there
is to be, until each candidate has had his
full say; certainly, until the challenger has
built his case.
"What's the rush?" one associate asked
in a discussion at our shop this week.
"After all, Lyndon Johnson didn't even
decide on a vice presidential runnina mate
—or if he did, he didn't say so puolicly—
until the very night of nomination."
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