It’s difficult to imagine a Democrat having to come up to Connecticut weeks before the election to sew up a presidential campaign, but that’s exactly what happened 45 years ago this month. The candidate was Vice-President Hubert Humphrey, who was locked in a tight race with the Republican, former Vice-President Richard Nixon.
In this week’s Face the State flashback, we have some old film from our archives of Humphrey’s visit to Connecticut on October 18, 1968 back when we were WTIC-TV, with a very trendy psychedelic color scheme. The trip was crucial to his chances of winning the election. The trip was such a big deal we pre-empted prime time programming for it. Tune in Sunday to learn which program was bumped for HHH.
The campaign stop came after a tumultous spring and summer. 1968 saw the Vietnam War escalate, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, President Lyndon Johnson decide not to seek re-election, and violence at the Democratic National Convention. Americans that year also learned of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, the shooting of artist Andy Warhol and witnessed the hippie culture take root.
The film you’ll see shows Humphrey meeting enthusiastic crowds at Cigna in Bloomfield, the north end of Hartford and at a huge political rally outside our studios on Constitution Plaza, where Johnson had campaigned just four years earlier, and George McGovern would stump four years later.
Channel 3 Humphrey coverage was narrated by Paul Kuntz, and look for appearances by then governor John Dempsey, called “Jack” by everyone on the dais, Congressman Emilio Daddario, party chairman John Bailey with his trademark glasses on his head, and Senator Abe Ribicoff. I’m not sure why, but Senator Thomas Dodd was not present. He had been censured by the senate by a 92-5 a year earlier, and perhaps was perceived as a drag on the ticket. Dodd was also a supporter of Eugene McCarthy, who lost to Humphrey at the convention. The film also shows student protestors, and plenty of secret service agents.
Humphrey ended up carrying Connecticut in 1968 while losing the White House to Nixon, and it was the last time Democrats won our state for a quarter century. Republicans won in 1972, 1976, 1980, 1984 and 1988. They also won the governor’s race and the U.S. senate race in 1970.
You can watch the entire flashback that aired Sunday morning at 11 on Face the State right here: http://www.wfsb.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=9461310
Also watch our film from the 1968 convention: http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/face-the-state-flashback-ribicoff-at-1968-democratic-convention/
Categories: Face the State Flashback
Senator Humphrey also campaigned on the green in Waterbury that day.
My friend Andy Chapman and I were very serious about photography in the 8th grade and we got to take our gear to what was then Connecticut General Life Insurance Co. in Bloomfield. I remember all of the employees greeting him and hearing him speak. It made quite an impression on me and I think he made me a lifelong Democrat.
Thanks for sharing, Steve. Great memories!!