With the Democratic National Convention beginning this week, HUMAN EVENTS thought readers would enjoy being reminded of many of the more memorable events of past Democratic conventions.
John Kerry introduced himself to cheering delegates by giving a military salute and saying, “I’m John Kerry, and I’m reporting for duty!” Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois jump-starts his national political ambitions with a well-received keynote speech.
2000 Los Angeles
Vice President Al Gore accepted the nomination and celebrated by having a very long, passionate kiss on the stage with his wife Tipper. Sen. Joe Lieberman was nominated for Vice President, becoming the first Jewish major-party ticket presidential or vice-presidential candidate.
President Bill Clinton, in his acceptance speech, said he will “build a bridge to the 21st Century.” Dick Morris gained attention when tabloid news reports surface about the Clinton campaign confidant’s long-term relationship with a prostitute.
1992 New York
Bill Clinton got a bounce in the polls when independent candidate Ross Perot dropped out of the race during the convention (Perot later re-entered the contest). Bill and Hillary Clinton wow the media when they decide to walk a few blocks from their hotel to the convention site at Madison Square Garden.
Texas State Treasurer Ann Richards gets the delegates fired up with her keynote address, saying that Republican George H. W. Bush was “born with a silver foot in his mouth.” Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton panned for giving a 32-minute speech.
1984 San Francisco
Geraldine Ferraro nominated as vice presidential candidate, becoming the first woman placed on a major-party ticket. But the bizarre street performers outside the convention and the harsh rhetoric from the podium helped President Reagan win a landslide in the general against Walter Mondale by running against what Jeane Kirkpatrick called the “San Francisco Democrats.”
1980 New York
Jimmy Carter held off a challenge from Teddy Kennedy but couldn’t get the coveted unifying handshake on the stage following his acceptance speech.
1976 New York
Rep. Barbara Jordan of Texas gives the keynote address, but resists attacking Republicans, instead appealing for Americans to “begin again to shape a common good.”
Sen. Thomas Eagleton of Missouri nominated as George McGovern’s Vice President, but withdraws less than a month later after disclosures that he had undergone shock therapy as part of his mental health treatment. His replacement, Sargent Shriver, doesn’t help, as McGovern gets clobbered by Republican President Richard M. Nixon, despite the emerging Watergate scandal.
Hubert Humphrey gained the nomination, but all eyes focused on the violence outside the convention as Mayor Richard Dailey’s police battled with the destructive Yippie-led anti-war protestors. The whole scene turned off voters and was a factor in Humphrey’s defeat by Republican Richard Nixon.
1964 Atlantic City, N.J.
Black civil rights activists belonging to the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party challenged the Mississippi delegation to the convention, saying the segregated elections in the state were illegal. President Lyndon Johnson, needing the support of Southern politicians, managed to blunt the challenge.
1960 Los Angeles
John Kennedy becomes youngest Democrat ever nominated for President then surprises the convention by picking rival Lyndon B. Johnson to be his Vice President.
Adlai Stevenson let the delegates pick his Veep. Sen. Estes Kefauver of Tennessee beat John F. Kennedy on the third ballot, but the battle sets up JFK’s successful 1960 presidential bid.
Adlai Stevenson insisted he was not a presidential candidate, but his speech to the convention was so well received that his supporters pushed his nomination anyway. He won on the third ballot after trailing Sen. Estes Kefauver of Tennessee on the first two tallies.
Southern delegates walked out of the convention after Minneapolis Mayor Hubert Humphrey urged the Democratic Party to “get out of the shadow of states’ rights and walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights.”
President Franklin Roosevelt is nominated for an unprecedented fourth term, but concerns about his health led party leaders to challenge keeping on the ticket Vice President Henry Wallace, who was seen as too left-wing. Harry Truman garnered the Veep nomination on the second ballot and within a year became President after FDR’s death.
Vice President James Nance Garner failed in his challenge to Franklin Roosevelt’s quest for a third term. Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace replaced Garner on the ticket.
Franklin Roosevelt, seeking re-election after introducing the New Deal in his first term, tells the convention, “This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.”
Gov. Franklin Roosevelt of New York wins the nomination on the fourth ballot, beating the 1928 Democratic presidential candidate, Al Smith.
New York Gov. Alfred E. Smith becomes the first Roman Catholic nominated for President at the first convention held in the South since the Civil War.
1924 New York
It took over two weeks and a record 103 ballots before John W. Davis won the nomination. The convention was also noteworthy for the influence wielded by a resurgent Ku Klux Klan, which deep-sixed any chance that New York Gov. Alfred E. Smith would get the nomination.
1920 San Francisco
It took 44 ballots before Ohio Gov. James Cox could gain the nomination over three main rivals, included three-time presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan. Cox loses to Warren Harding in the general election but Cox’s vice presidential nominee, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin Roosevelt would go on to win the presidency four times.
1916 St. Louis
President Woodrow Wilson won on the first ballot as delegates kept cheering, “He Kept Us Out of War.”
House Speaker Champ Clark of Missouri and New Jersey Gov. Woodrow Wilson were deadlocked before William Jennings Bryan threw his support to Wilson, who won the nomination on the 46th ballot.
William Jennings Bryan got his third and final Democratic presidential nomination. Bryan didn’t attend the convention because his nomination was already assured, so he listened over a long-distance line to Lincoln, Neb., where he owned a farm.
1904 St. Louis
This convention took place at the same time that St. Louis also hosted the 1904 World’s Fair. Alton Parker, chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals, won the nomination, but lost to President Theodore Roosevelt in the general election.
1900 Kansas City, Mo.
William Jennings Bryan wins his second (of three) Democratic nominations but despite his opposition to what he called Republican imperialism and the Spanish-American War, Bryan loses again to President William McKinley.
William Jennings Bryan became the youngest presidential nominee in U.S. history after giving his “Cross of Gold” speech that criticized big-business support for the gold standard. Bryan became famous for his oratory and populism but lost to Republican William McKinley in the general election.