Thursday, 2 December 2010

McCarthy Shifts Sights From Kids to Delegates

August 8, 1968

Lantern Staff Writer

EDITOR'S NOTE: Tom Lindeman flew to Wisconsin in April to cover the state Democratic Primary. Today he compares his impressions with the Columbus McCarthy appearance.

While tired Hubert Humphrey fished for pike at Lake Waverly, Minn., Gene McCarthy cast his line in Columbus.

Despite his come-from-behind approach, which requires politicking every minute, McCarthy still looked refrigerated in his cool summer suit, sky blue shirt, stripped tie and sun tan.

The Minnesota Senator is surely weary by now, but his pace seems to have increased since the early days of stumping in New Hampshire and Wisconsin.

His campaigning in early April was dubbed the "Children's Crusade," a phrase his professional advisers have dropped lately. Several things have changed with Senator McCarthy.

Earlier it was strictly "Be clean for Gene" when representing the ex-professor. The most frequent complaint by youthful campaigners in Wisconsin was voiced against a poster in the headquarters declaring "Haircuts Recommended."

Wednesday, as the crowd waited in front of the State House, it was entertained by a hippy-type band, unshorn, in mod sun glasses and dress.

Before the candidate arrived on the steps of Ohio's highest political chambers, folk singer Phil Ochs, a former Ohio State student, drew applause from the early young crowd when he labeled most political office-holders "dishonest, except (New Orleans District Attorney) Jim Garrison."

The applause was longer and louder when he sang an antiwar song called "We Ain't Marchin." The words vibrated between two World War I Doughboy statues flanking the speaker's platform. The inscription on one of the statues reads "The republic is secure so long as we continue to honor the memory of its defenders."

The performers and performance seemed out of place in a campaign even as off beat as McCarthy's. Perhaps Columbus Advance Man Tony Podesta missed a cue. At any rate, when the Senator arrived he steered clear of the entertainers.

McCarthy, himself, still has his quiet demeanor. He was extra serious, interjecting little of his popular humor. Fighting the GOP for headlines this week is hardly fun.

The candidate, once a continuous speaker, punctuated his speech Wednesday with silence. The lunch hour crowd politely applauded each pause.

In the beginning, Senator McCarthy was laughed off as the Democrat's answer to Harold Stassen. Although the Senator proved his critics wrong in New Hampshire, he is still considered a maverick by the Democratic hierarchy.

And so the entire candidacy of Senator Eugene J. McCarthy these final days must shift to fishing for people like those in the Neil House, conventional people, delegates.

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