Sunday, February 15, 2015

America's Last Great Convention- San Francisco - 1984

EXCLUSIVE: America's last great convention: Mondale, Jackson & Hart dish to Salon about wild 1984 DNC
The cold war liberal turned neo-con then UN Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick labeled them "the San Francisco Democrats".  I didn't know quite what she meant but knew it was contemptuous.  Neither the Gary Hart nor Jesse Jackson supporters was convinced that all hope for their candidacies so floor fights remained part of the arsenal. I was on the Platform Committee which remained the subject of contentious votes on the floor about nuclear arms control and Israeli settlement policy.  I was dispatched to state caucuses by the foreign policy advisers Barry Carter and Madeline Albright to speak for the Mondale campaign.
  There was the elevated oratory of New York's Governor  Mario Cuomo in his "Shining city on a hill - tale of two cities"  speech.  And the nomination of Fordham Law alum Geraldine Ferraro for vice president.  and there was Grace Slick and Jefferson Airplane playing on the pier at a huge party paid for by then state Senate leader Willie Brown.
But there was a low moment for me -when Vice President Mondale pulled out his "Reagan Charge" card.  He called for a balanced budget amendment (!?) and said "Ronald Reagan will raise taxes and so will I - but I'll do it fairly".  I saw electoral votes slipping away. - gwc
Mondale, Hart, Jackson Dish About the Law Great Convention - San Francisco in 1984 - SLATE
by Phil Hirschkorn
Gary Hart had one more move. It was Sunday, July 15, 1984, the eve of the Democratic National Convention, in San Francisco. He had won the California primary on June 5, seven of the last 11 contests, and more overall than frontrunner Walter “Fritz” Mondale. But Hart was way behind in delegates. Mondale had announced he had enough to be nominated to oppose incumbent Ronald Reagan in the fall. Hart had neither conceded the race nor suspended his campaign.
“Surprises could happen,” Hart recalled to Salon in an interview for this article.
Staying at the old St. Francis Hotel in Union Square, Hart walked across the square to the Hyatt to visit Reverend Jesse Jackson. Jackson had been as much of a revelation as Hart in the primaries and became the first black candidate to mount a very competitive White House run, finishing third in delegates.
“I sat outside Jesse’s door for about half an hour, and finally he let me in,” Hart said. “I wanted him to endorse me and turn his delegates over to me.”
Hart was polling 10 points better than Mondale against Reagan. A deal with Jackson could elevate him closer to Mondale’s delegate total but still short of a majority. “That would have gotten me up to 1,500 and some, and who knows what would have happened then,” Hart said.
Jackson wasn’t ready to quit. He wanted to be officially nominated for president.  “Any idea of placing the delegations together went out the window, but at least I made a try,” Hart said.
Suspense over the nominee is only one factor that distinguishes the 1984 Democratic National Convention from all 15 major party conventions that have followed. There were also historic candidate breakthroughs by race, gender and generation. There was a most memorable keynote address. There were fights over the party platform. It was the first time there were “super” delegates — office holders and party activists who can play a decisive role in the nomination. And there was a huge television audience. Subsequent conventions might have one of these elements, but none had them all, and the gatherings in Cleveland and Philadelphia next summer probably won’t compare to the Democrats in 1984 either.

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