Post by Daniel
Hubert Humphery dies of a sudden heart attack while campaigning for
RFK is never killed. Either he or McCarthy will win the Democratic
I think this is the wrong answer to the question that you're asking.
Neither McCarthy nor RFK had enough electors (nor were enough up for
grabs sans party bosses) in order to carry the nomination. Given that
the convention operates in a pre-reform manner, the bosses will pick
the candidate. To complicate things further, you've killed a nominee
in the process of collecting delegates, at a time where I'm not sure
what the convention rules were with regards to awarding delegates of a
Post by Daniel
With Humphry out of the picture and Bobby alive, what would happen?
Muskie probably gets nominated with Jordan or something palatable. The
idea of a successful insurgent campaign, especially Bobby's abortive,
late, entry successfully nominating an anti-establishment, "Peace"
nominee is more than a little fanciful; the bosses might not be able
to deliver the states, but they could still deliver the nomination.
More specific to Bobby, the campaign was roughshod and hard scrabble;
in retrospect, he makes people feel better about their objections to
Vietnam and to the darker side to the sixties, gives everyone a
comfortable emotional "out" on responsibility for what happened after.
Bobby had neither the experience nor the national infrastructure to be
a nation-wide candidate. He had certainly learned from his run for the
Senate and become better for it, but even there he had needed LBJ's
coattails to win the race.
Though he did occupy the polar opposite to Nixon's politics of
division, I think there was substantially less to Bobby's '68 bid than
meets the eye--let alone people's idealized recollection of it--he
entered late and he didn't effectively manage his resources or direct
Frankly, it's more likely that a surviving Bobby Kennedy would be
*more* disappointing to the audience that fantasizes about his
survival, rather than *thrilling.* He clearly wasn't going to continue
in the Senate, he may have run for governor, or he may have retired
from politics altogether after shaking off the depression following
his brother's assassination. If he ran for governor against
Rockefeller, he'd inevitably have to run to the right on "law-and-
order issues" while trying to court students, blacks, and feminists
and his base, which may prove to be more than he can handle. He lacked
the sense to press flesh and make appearances with local politicians,
which made enemies where he needed friends; something he may have
learned from over time. I'm just saying, like the weird liberal
fantasy that LBJ was some war-mad monster and JFK would've kept us out
of Vietnam, there's no particularly conclusive evidence one way or the
other, and to presume that the grass is always greener is silly.
If what you want is what the headline says: a surviving RFK assuming
the presidency in 1968, there are a couple of ways to get there, most
involve working further back than 1968
1a-b) either Stuart Symington or Albert Gore Sr. is chosen to be JFK's
running mate. Despite the shift, the ticket still carries Texas (LBJ
would stuff the ballot box either way) and thus, wins the White House.
There's still the fateful rise in Bircher, etc. politically violent
rhetoric and JFK keeps his appointment in Dallas. At the 1964
Convention, neither Symington nor Gore is really able to reliably
block Bobby from getting the nomination to VP.
Both win landslide victories in '64 (though neither as substantial as
LBJ's). By 1968, Symington is too polarizing on race to be reelected
(losing lots of voters to Wallace) and so his VP, Bobby, gets the nod.
Conversely, Gore hasn't been hawkish enough on Vietnam and thus his
more hawkish VP carries the day. (This is all very loosely speaking).
Otherwise, you need Bobby to preempt Gene McCarthy in the '68 race and
thus not end up with a split anti-war vote; and even then, the odds
are really long on getting Bobby the nomination. You might be able to
get it if Bobby somehow swings Daley, but Daley's a machine and party
man, and I don't think he'd come on board until the very last minute.