Interview with Joseph Rauh


Joseph Rauh:

Well, we go to the Convention. That's really stage two on the heat. We go to the Convention and on Saturday afternoon before the convention we have this marvelous show. We had an hour before the Credentials Committee. Fanny Lou Hamer made her famous uh, pitch. Martin Luther King—We had the greatest array of people you have ever uh, can imagine and the Credentials Committee was very impressed, but Johnson was not.** He still wasn't prepared to give us anything. Sunday was the first Credentials Committee meeting and I am a member of the Credentials Committee as well as being lawyer for the uh, Freedom Party. And at the meeting, it's clear they're going to give us nothing. Uh, Governor Lawrence, uh, who should have called on me, because I was the spokesman for the party, he's the Chairman of the Credentials Committee, he calls on a hack politician from uh, Wyoming, I think it was, who announces that they will be uh, seat the regulars and we would be guests of the Convention. Well, I arise demanding the floor, because my God, I'm the counsel for it, and I don't even get that. It's all rigged. Lawrence calls on Al Ullman, a Congressman from Oregon on the Credentials Committee who moves to amend that, giving us two delegates at uh, large. Then a f—brawl starts and then he finally uh, admits me. And I says, totally unsatisfactory. And um, uh, at this particular moment, when it, we adjourn on Sunday, we have 17 uh, instead of the 11 we needed, we have 17 who are willing to go for seating. Both the lily-whites and the others. And we also have 12 roll call states. So, I'm in a pretty good position to uh, bargain. Then on Monday uh, we were going to go forward, but it's a stalemate. Uh, they don't know what to do, and we don't know what to do. There was a meeting, many meetings with Humphrey. And let me just interject a word for Hubert Humphrey ‘cause this thing has gotten mixed up in history. I never went to bed the whole time without first going by Hubert's suite and… and talking to him and say, give us some more. We need more. And Hubert never one said to me, look Joe, give me this. I'll be Vice President, someday I'll be President, and I'll make it up to you. He never once did anything dirty like that. We discussed it at arm's length on the merits. And all I can say for Hubert Humphrey is that was pretty noble, when here one of his best friends is his opponent, and he never uses that friendship to try to get me to do something that, that was wrong. At any rate this is now on Monday, there's a stalemate. On Tuesday morning, Ruther about 8:03 in the morning comes into the… flies in, Johnson orders him in. He's actually in negotiations I think with General Motors. Johnson orders him to come. You know, Johnson's a pretty tough character. So Ruther comes in and they make the deal that they offer us. Namely, the two delegates at large. The uh ousting of the lily-whites, which they do by saying they have to take an oath to support the party, which they're not going to support a party with this kind of civil rights in it. So they were ousting them. They were giving us two delegates. They were throwing them out. They promised us that it would… no lily-white delegation would ever be seated again. And they'd set up a civil rights committee of the Democratic National Committee so that no civil rights can, uh, that no lily-white delegation could ever be seated again. We're about to have a meeting of the Credentials Committee and I get a call from Ruther. He said, "This is what the Convention has decided." What he meant was, this was what he and Johnson had agreed to, and I want you to accept it. And he… what he says is, he tells me that's it. Well, I thought it was wonderful. I mean, it is wonderful. It's the basis from which the whole Democratic Party has been opened up to blacks, to women, to hispanics, to everything. It was a great, great, great victory, but I couldn't accept it. I said, "Walter, look, I cannot accept this without talking to Aaron Henry. We have a deal sealed in blood that neither of us will ever take anything without talking to the other. You get me a postponement. Tell me where Aaron is, because he was… I knew Aaron was going to go, go there, but I didn't know how to get hold of him, and I said, we can probably make this unanimous." Walter said he would. So I went back into the Credentials Committee Room and uh, said to David Lawrence, the Chairman, "I want a postponement for this purpose." And he said, "Well, go ask Mondale, who is the Chairman of the SubCommittee which is walking up the stairs there." So I did and Mondale says, "Well, of course, Joe, you can have a postponement." And some little punk, I think his name was Sherman Markman from Iowa says, "No postponement, we're going ahead." He was the one Johnson had put in there to watch Mondale. Mondale might be nice, fair, and there was none of that. And so Mondale says, "Well Joe, that's the way the ball bounces." They all went in. I tried to get the floor for a postponement. I couldn't. So then Mondale announces what the uh, compromise is. And it is so perfect! Mondale was coming up the steps and I went to him and I said, "Fritz, I think we can make this unanimous if I can have a postponement, so I can talk to Aaron Henry, the Chairman of the Delegation." He said, "Of course." Then a lousy little punk named Sherman Markman or something like that, pretty close, from Iowa, says, "No postponement. We're going ahead with the uh, ent position." And uh, Mondale looks at me and says, "Joe, that's the way it is." This guy had been made Johnson's appointee on the subcommittee, and he was there to watch Mondale, to be sure Mondale wasn't fair. So what happened was then, we went into the meeting. I tried to get the floor. I couldn't. Then Mondale announces what the proposal is, the compromise proposal. He made it sound so favorable to us, and he would interject all the time about how much I had won, and uh, it made it harder to fight. But I got up and said, "I'm not arguing whether this is good or bad. Life alone will tell that. But what I am saying it we ought to have a postponement so Aaron Henry's views can be injected in here and we can decide probably that we're all in agreement. "Vote…" Have you ever been in a lynch mob? Because if you haven't you haven't ever heard anything like this. A hundred people shouting "Vote, vote, vote," while I'm talking. I finally had to say, "It's your rudeness that's the problem. Uh… I've got a right to speak. I've got the floor. You ought to shut up." "Vote, vote, vote!" It's like a um… uh, it's like a machine there. And it… it mowed me down. I moved ah, for a postponement. I moved for a roll call. I moved for everything, but I didn't get it. Then he announces, takes a vote on the Mondale proposal, the proposal that I in my heart knew was a victory, but I had to vote no. There were, eight of us voted no. It was a ragtag eight. They had gotten the rest of them away from us. Now you said something about were there two stages of uh, of pressure? Yes, there was one before the convention where Ruther and Humphrey were working me over.