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Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)

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Whereas, in fact, despite denials of the McGovern staff in the last days of the campaign – when I was one of the five or six reporters who were pushing very aggressively to find out more about Eagleton and the real nature of his mental state – I spent about ten days in late September, early October, in St. After McGovern won the nomination, he analyzes how he won it and how it caused the schizm in the democratic party.

Ed: In other words, were it not for the Eagleton Affair, Nixon was actually steadily losing, and McGovern was slowly but surely picking up the Humphrey voters … so the deciding factor, according to Caddell’s statistics, was the massive defection from McGovern to Nixon resulting from the Eagleton Affair.You said the candidates… the staff, and the press… were all on The Edge … is politics the greatest Edge you’ve discovered?

He was perceived, then, as a dingbat – not as a flaming radical – a lot of people seem to think that was one of the images that hurt him.Holum woke him up and asked him what he wanted to say… and… McGovern was very cool for a while till he read the statement that Holum had written… he typed a first draft, then woke George up and said, “Here it is… we have to go over about ten o’clock to the coliseum and… do it. McGovern ended up turning to the center in the general election, but simultaneously failed to win over Nixon voters while alienating himself from the coalition Thompson dubs the “Freak Power Ticket” that got him there in the first place. Early on he began backing McGovern uncertain that McGovern could win, but noting that people would rather vote for someone rather than vote for the candidate most likely to beat the other guy. In other words, there were a lot of people who liked him, liked what he said – but wouldn’t vote for him, because he seemed like a bumbler.

This made him a pioneer in a type of journalism he dubbed “gonzo,” wherein he often exaggerated or even made up events to hit at some kind of deeper literary truth. HST: One of the weird unanswered questions is whether McGovern actually said1000% to anyone but Eagleton. You might know anything about Muskie or McGovern or even Gary Hart but the sheer excitement of the campaign trail as described by Thompson beats any sports show out there.And while On the Campaign Trail ‘72 is chock-full with the kind of horse-race thinking and analysis that must have surrounded him at the time, Thompson’s coverage is unique because it zooms out a little.

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