Listen: Hubert H Humphrey - AFL - CIO

MPR’s Paul Gruchow reports on Minnesota AFL-CIO meeting, and if group will endorse Senator George McGovern for President of the United States. Reports includes excerpt of speech at AFL-CIO convention from Hubert H. Humphrey in support of McGovern.  


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The whole atmosphere of the Minnesota AFL-CIO meeting, which concluded in Rochester today, was infused with presidential politics. The central question on the minds of delegates and convention watchers alike was will the union defy its national leadership and endorse Senator George McGovern for the presidency or won't it?

Even as the routine business of the convention proceeded, even through the long hours of committee meetings to consider dozens of resolutions, ranging in subject from child care to pensions, presidential politics was the talk in the hotel hallways, in the newspapers, in the convention hall itself.

Nearly every important political leader in the state's Democratic Party showed up to address the delegates, and each of them made the same point. We need your help. We've got to defeat Richard Nixon. And each of them managed to say it without getting, for all practical purposes, so much as the name of Senator McGovern involved.

When the delegates themselves considered the presidential question yesterday afternoon, a day ahead of schedule, they followed their political leaders. They unanimously decried President Nixon but left out any positive mention of McGovern. It'll be clear what we mean, they said.

It was left to one of the Federation's oldest friends, Hubert Humphrey, the last speaker on the convention's lengthy agenda, to take up the case for Senator McGovern directly. A task he accepted this morning with gusto. Humphrey told the delegates he knew McGovern as a friend, as a neighbor, as a father, and as a senator, and he knew him to be honest and decent, a friend of working people. Then he chided the delegates.

HUBERT HUMPHREY: I ask you to judge Senator McGovern on the basis not of just the man but on the basis of the men and the political parties. Which of the two do you want? You're not going to run around and write in somebody's name and do much good.

You're going to have to make up your mind this time whether it's Nixon or McGovern, whether it's Republicans or Democrats. And you're going to have to make up your mind on the basis not only of current events but of history. Is this labor movement going to repudiate the political party of Roosevelt, and of Truman, of Stevenson, of Kennedy, and Johnson, and Humphrey? Or are you going to stand with us?


When did this Nixon Republican outfit get to be good for you? Listen here. If your work for the money that you live on, you can't afford to vote for Richard Nixon. Now that's a fact.


Now if you're clipping coupons, if you're living off the variables of the stock market, if your income is determined by capital gains, you can afford to vote for Richard Nixon. But if you're one of these workers that works in a plant, or a shop, or in transportation, or the mines, or the forests, and you've got to live on that weekly paycheck and that take home pay, I repeat what I said to you, and this is all you need to remember out of anything I say to you. If you have to work with your hands, with your body, if you have to work for the money that you have to live on, you can't afford to vote for Richard Nixon.

PAUL GRUCHOW: The convention responded to Humphrey with cheers, and standing ovations, and thunderous applause. And when he left the hall, there were requests to reconsider the matter of a McGovern endorsement. State President David Roe ignored the requests, and at noon, the convention was gaveled into adjournment with McGovern still outside at the back door. This is Paul Gruchow.


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