Nick Troiano Professor Stephen Wayne Presidential Electoral Politics November 23, 2011 Indy Andy: John Anderson and

the Election of 1980 The United States was confronting multiple, simultaneous crises in 1980. At home, Americans faced eight percent unemployment and an energy shortage. Abroad, the Iranian hostage situation marked the beginning of hostilities between radical Islam and the West. Only 11 percent of Americans had a positive view of the country (Wilson, 413). The mood of the nation was somber, and voters were looking for change. In the presidential election, according to pollster Bob Teeter, voters desired a leader who could offer: “(1) something different, uniquely attractive; (2) a return to traditional American values; and (3) proven capability” (Mason, 71). John B. Anderson, a ten-term Congressman from Illinois, sought to fill this role as a dark horse presidential candidate, first in the Republican primary and later in the general election as an independent. Ultimately, the campaign’s strategy proved ineffective in allowing Anderson to overcome the inherent obstacles he faced as a candidate running outside of both major parties. Anderson was an atypical Republican. “The most formative period of my whole 20 years in Congress in fleshing out my thoughts and views on what issues were important was the civil rights revolution,” Anderson said. It was on this issue that he broke with conservative Republicans to support legislation like the Fair Housing Act – building a national profile in the process. At one point, Anderson also opposed funding military operations in Vietnam, and he took a more expansive view of the role of government in helping to improve the ailing economy. A desire to voice these divergent opinions was part of what motivated him to enter the 1980 Republican primary. “I just

didn’t feel that there was another candidate…that entertained the progressive view that I felt should be the view of the party of Abraham Lincoln,” he said (Anderson). Anderson became the eighth of eleven total candidates to enter the Republican race. Initial polling in the fall of 1979 found him last in both support and name recognition (Mason, 29). A key challenge for the campaign, which carried through to the general election, was getting the media and voters to treat Anderson seriously. Mark Bisnow, Anderson’s press secretary and aide, writes, “nobody would be particularly interested in what John Anderson has to say until they first thought he had a chance” (Bisnow, 57). Thus, the campaign embraced the idea of Anderson as an “anti-candidate” who was not afraid to tell the truth and call for tough choices to be made – not only because the profile was a good fit for Anderson, but also because it offered a way to set him apart from the other candidates and attract media attention. Although Anderson was widely unknown among voters and unpopular among the Republican establishment, he saw an opportunity for victory within a recently reformed nominating system that relied on state-based primary elections, in which many states allowed independents and Democrats to participate. To this end, the campaign decided on a four-state primary strategy, in which Anderson would skip Iowa and concentrate his campaign in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Illinois and Wisconsin to capitalize on crossover voters. The campaign believed Anderson would be able to reach the top tier in Massachusetts and be able to secure his first win in Wisconsin. To overcome inevitable early defeats, the team aimed to keep expectations low and develop a core constituency of supporters, whom they identified as a professional class of “high-income, college educated, cause oriented” voters (Mason, 71). “They were what I call the extreme middle. They were moderate Republicans, members of Common Cause, and donors to the ACLU

and People for the American Way,” said Roger Craver, who helped design Anderson’s direct mail fundraising campaign (Craver). The central theme of the campaign, often referred to as “the Anderson difference,” was reinforced in early television ads, which concluded with Anderson saying, “The time has come to stop telling the American people only what they want to hear, and start talking frankly about the sacrifices we must all make.” In another ad, Anderson said, “I want to buy your vote. Not with money, but with some different ideas that challenge you to think” (Mason, 149). One of those ideas was a fifty-cent gasoline tax that would discourage energy consumption and redistribute the revenue to lower social security payroll taxes. This proposal was the most acclaimed of his campaign for how bold and innovative it was. It provided the campaign with needed attention by giving the media something to report on and voters something to identify Anderson with. In an early 1980 debate, Anderson finally broke through the crowded group of candidates. In an extemporaneous closing speech to a national audience, Anderson said: “I’m afraid that there’s too much old politics being practiced, even among Republicans today…I think the country is looking for something different. Every one of them has ridiculed my plan to go to the American people and tax them fifty cents a gallon for gasoline…yet I haven’t heard other than in vague generalities what they would do to solve the energy problem.” Author Jim Mason called the speech “the most important three minutes of Anderson’s political career” (Mason, 124). One reporter described Anderson as “a plainspoken man surrounded by double-talking candidates.” A New York Times editorial (“Why Not the Best?”) criticized those who outright dismissed Anderson’s candidacy and stated: “[Anderson] deserves at least the chance to show more” (125).

Anderson finished a disappointing fourth place (9.8%) in his first contested primary in New Hampshire, behind Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and Howard Baker, with two thirds of his support coming from independents (Msason, 156). His standing improved with second place finishes in Vermont and Massachusetts, where he came within 1,100 votes of victory. While Anderson’s fundraising and media attention significantly improved, the campaign could not escape an increase in expectations going into Illinois. Anderson was unable to replicate his Massachusetts success and finished 11 points behind Reagan, which spelled doom for his candidacy (168). “As improbable as it had seemed, [Massachusetts] showed an unknown congressman from the prairies of Illinois could be a real contender,” Anderson said … but just not in the Republican primary. By the end of March, the campaign held its first serious meeting to entertain the possibility of an independent candidacy. Advisors identified a handful of potential problems: overcoming the argument that Anderson would simply spoil the election for one of the major party candidates, getting on the ballot in all 50 states, raising contributions absent matching funding from the federal government, finding a prominent running mate and sustaining positive media coverage. While the team acknowledged the history of failed candidacies outside of both major parties (most recently Eugene McCarthy in 1976), they also believed there was never an opportunity as there was in 1980. The major political parties had weakened over the previous decade, reaching a point where 41 percent of voters declined to affiliate with either party, compared to 29 percent in 1976 (Everson, 227). In addition, by mid-year in 1980, 58 percent of voters said they were dissatisfied with both major party nominees (Wilson, 413). “I just had a feeling that despite the history of failure of third parties to overcome the duopoly of the Democrats and Republicans, that I could do it. I had that much political ego,” Anderson said (Anderson).

Anderson decided he would run as an independent and not a third party candidate to avoid challenging the very idea of a two-party system, which may have been perceived as too radical. He hired a well-known media consultant, David Garth, to manage this phase of his campaign. Despite Garth’s large price tag and reputation for centralized control of a campaign, winning credibility among the media and political elite by hiring him was a necessary step in demonstrating a serious campaign. Lastly, Anderson’s team decided the campaign would retain the same themes and issues of his primary campaign, which already proved to have wide appeal. “[I wanted voters to know] I could provide a new and a fresh approach in contrast to what I felt were the stilted and stale formulae that were being offered by the Democrats and the Republicans,” Anderson said (Anderson). In terms of electoral strategy, a campaign memo stated that in order to secure a victory, Anderson would have to win all of the large states except Texas, Florida and Indiana, and that he could do this without having to take any safe Reagan states except California and Colorado. “Thus, the linchpin of the campaign became not just passing Carter in the polls, but becoming the alternative to Reagan by mid-September” (Wilson, 317). Anderson’s goal was to translate negative feelings about Reagan and Carter into positive feelings about himself (Bisnow, 240). He drew contrast to Reagan by “[pushing] him in the public view into a corner where he was the captive of the ultra-conservative members of the Republican Party.” As for Carter, Anderson sought to portray him as weak and ineffective. For example, “[Carter’s] idea of wearing a sweater when he addressed the nation, as an example of the contribution Americans could make [by turning down the thermostat], was kind of a poor example of a really thoughtful, resourceful and innovative things that we would have to do to solve the energy problem” (Anderson).

When Anderson launched his “National Unity Campaign” on April 24, 1980, polls showed his support in the 20-22 percent range (Wilson, 275). Many felt that if his support crossed the 30 percent threshold, his status as a viable candidate would become “enshrined and irreversible” (Bisnow, 214). Time magazine pollster Daniel Yankelovich advised the campaign not to wait for the fall to make their moves, because if Anderson failed to prove himself as a viable candidate early his support would “drop like a stone” (Wilson, 306). In what many view as the campaign’s largest strategic misstep, Garth instead sought to limit Anderson’s national media exposure in order to focus the candidate on state-by-state ballot efforts and prevent “peaking too early” (278). He also discouraged Anderson from discussing controversial issues that might alienate voters, arguing instead that the candidate’s focus should be on organizational tasks through the summer. “The conventional wisdom had taken hold in the campaign that it was necessary to be tough and traditional to win,” writes Bisnow (Bisnow, 216). This strategy wrought damaging consequences. First, it removed Anderson from the front pages of the newspapers at a time when voters desired more information; only 50% of voters were able to form an opinion of him by the time of his announcement (Wilson, 279). Second, it had the effect of undermining the central appeal of the candidate himself. “Instead of sticking with his original position, he would shave it on the edges and start coming across as just another politician,” said Craver (Craver). For example, a trip to Israel was widely reported as an example of political pandering, and a botched press conference with Senator Kennedy gave the impression that a deal was being cut behind closed doors. Gone were the “Daniel-in-the-lions’-den” days when Anderson would take an unpopular position in front of a special interest group, as he had notably done earlier in the campaign, for example, when he advocated for gun control while visiting the Gun Owners of New Hampshire Association (Wilson, 141).

Still, there was some progress. By September, Anderson met the ballot requirements in all 50 states, announced Pat Lucey (a former Democratic Wisconsin Governor) as his running mate, qualified for retroactive public funding, and was let into a debate hosted by the League of Women Voters (Everson, 91). Yet these developments proved to be insufficient for Anderson to gain the momentum he needed. Although he was recognized as the winner of the first debate against Reagan (Carter refused to participate), it provided virtually no bump in the polls. Anderson was excluded entirely from the second debate, which he described as the “death nail” in his campaign. In addition, Anderson said he “was constantly haunted throughout the campaign by the fear that…the single greatest deterrent to building more and more support…[was] that people would say that they were wasting a vote” by supporting him (Anderson). Carter frequently exploited this fear. For example, in one of his general election television ads, the voiceover states, “Two men are the real contenders for the presidency today” – referring to Carter and Reagan. “Voting for Anderson is simply another way of voting for Reagan,” another print ad stated (Wilson, 392). Unable to effectively fight back due to a lack of resources for his own television ads, Anderson’s support was cut in half between mid-September and mid-October. Of the $17 million Anderson raised, only about $1 million was available for post-Labor Day ads, one sixth of the amount the campaign had planned to spend (415). When Election Day arrived, Anderson was perceived not to be a viable choice for most voters. Instead, Reagan had gradually and successfully proven himself to be an acceptable alternative to Carter. Anderson garnered 6.8% of the vote, taking equally from both Reagan and Carter. A University of Michigan study shows that among voters who rated Anderson the highest, only 39 percent actually voted for him – demonstrating the real and damaging effect of the “wasted vote” line of attack (Wilson, 409).

Anderson faced seemingly insurmountable institutional challenges. Although he succeeded getting on 50 state ballots and winning 13 different lawsuits, his campaign spent over $2 million to do so – more than double what they planned. He was largely written off by the media, which he heavily depended on in the absence of a preexisting grassroots network to get his message out. A study of general election media coverage by the three major television networks found that they ran 137 stories on Anderson, compared to 296 on Carter and 291 on Reagan (Wilson, 419). “I feel a little bit like the little kid on the block who is being ignored while the bullies go at each other,” Anderson said at a press conference (Drew, 278). Lastly, he suffered an inherent fundraising disadvantage without up front federal matching funds, as the two parties had. However, the campaign and the candidate had its own failings too. Aside from the gas tax, Anderson did not produce and communicate “a clearly compelling alternative point of view for a broad range of the electorate” (Everson, 91). He was unable to reach beyond his well-educated and affluent base, sometimes coming off as “didactic, humorless, [and] preachy” on the campaign trail (Drew, 280). And he slowly lost “the Anderson difference,” as he was increasingly perceived to be a traditional politician while the campaign went on. In the end, the Anderson campaign underestimated the structural obstacles it would face and failed to execute a strategy effective enough to overcome them. To be sure, the political climate of 1980 and the personal beliefs and attributes of the candidate suggest that it was indeed possible for Anderson to win. Where the effort failed to achieve in an electoral context, it succeeded politically in demonstrating what could be possible. “If anything innovative in politics is subjected to scrutiny or a detailed examination of the problems, nothing would ever be undertaken,” said Craver (Craver). Anderson’s candidacy demonstrated that politics could be more honest, substantive and empowering than what voters had come to expect.

Works Cited Anderson, John. Personal interview. 20 Nov. 2011. Bisnow, Mark. Diary of a Dark Horse: The 1980 Anderson Presidential Campaign. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1983. Craver, Roger. Personal interview. 20 Nov. 2011. Drew, Elizabeth. Portrait of an Election: the 1980 Presidential Campaign. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1981. Everson, David. The Presidential Election and Transition 1980–1981. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1983. Mason, Jim. No Holding Back: The 1980 John B. Anderson Presidential Campaign. Lanham: University Press of America, 2011.

APPENDIX Transcript of interview with John B. Anderson What was the context of the election in 1980? Is that a prelude to asking me why I decided to run? Or am I running the tape too far ahead in your investigation? Well, I came to Congress as you know when I was first elected in 1960. I think the most dramatic events of the 20 years that I was in Congress was the flowering of the civil rights movement. I first really gained some national attention when I cast the deciding vote and the only Republican vote in the House Rules Committee on which I had served to bring out the open housing bill, otherwise called the fair housing act when Lyndon Johnson was in the presidential chair. I still remember being invited down shake hands with Lyndon Johnson the next day in his office in the White House, he was that grateful. They had an old, very ultra-conservative democratic Howard K. Smith as chairman of the Rules Committee. There were ten members and they had the majority. And when Civil Rights came up he would tuck them into his back pocket and retire to his farm down in Virginia and refuse to even summon the committee to even hold a meeting. When the vote came on the Civil Rights bill, there was a defection. They had a majority on the committee but Bernie Sisk of California, who was quite a conservative Democrat, had gotten the same kind of pressure from the Real Estate Industry that all of us had received – you know, don’t interfere with how we deal with rent and sell real estate by imposing some restriction and saying we got sell to people of color. So, to counter the defection of Sisk, I was the only Republican of the four on the committee who switched from what was otherwise the Republican position of refusing to grant to a rule, which meant the bill could never go down and be voted on in the house. It was my vote that enabled it to go to the floor the next day, and I made a speech which I still think was one of my more memorable audiences during the many years that I was in the house, during which I said that it was far past time to acknowledge the injustice that was being done to deny people of color the right to rent and to buy houses wherever they chose to live. That was what really pumped up my national image. There were other instances, I won’t bore you with all the details, where I seemed to indicated in my public utterances as well as my votes on the committee that I believe that principle ought to take precedence over party. And I did not take the strictly conservative Republican line. For me, the most formative period of my whole 20 years in Congress in fleshing out my thoughts and views on what issues were important was the civil rights revolutions starting with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the open housing bill of 1968. I’m wandering a little bit, which is not unusual for people of my vintage, when they get to reminiscing and thinking back their career. But I think you’re trying to get at, why I broke with the Republican Party and decided to run.

I’m getting at – what were the stakes for the country in 1980? As I recall it, when the Republican race began there were – I may be off on this – at least five or six candidates were in the race and I didn’t think that any of them would take the same liberal approach. Because I was accused of be a quasi-liberal, not a true conservative Republican, because of some of these votes that I cast, I just didn’t feel that there was another candidate…there were about nine…that entertained the progressive view that I felt should be the view of the party of Abraham Lincoln, after all, with his hallowed place in history as the man who brought great changes in public attitudes toward the rights of African Americans. It was kind of a feeling that if I were not in the field, none of the other candidates…and there was a winnowing so toward the end there were fewer than nine. I was encouraged I came within about 1,100 votes of winning in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I almost beat George Bush who was claiming Massachusetts as his home state, there is some question as to whether or not he was guilding the lily about that. But he won the primary in Massachusetts. Digressing a little bit, by that point, I had attracted the support of Normal Lear, who was a Democrat from California, the moviemaker. And it was his money, he poured in several hundred thousands dollars that he gathered and funneled into my primary campaign. It was support of people like Lear that encouraged me to believe that maybe this thing would work. As improbable at it had seemed, an unknown congressman from the prairies of Illinois could be areal contender. In the GOP race or as Independent? Yes, in the Republican primary. But then the race went on and I couldn’t duplicate what I had accomplished in Massachusetts. And particularly when I lost to Reagan in Illinois, of course he claimed close association with the state and campaigned on the fact that he was a lifeguard in Dixon, which was a little town in Lee County, one of the seven counties that formed the congressional district that I represented for twenty years in Washington – I realized that I was not going to win the GOP nomination. What made me decide on anything as bold and outrageous as thinking that I could run as a third party candidate in view of the rather poor record that those parties had made in past presidential elections? There has to be a certain amount of ego involved in anyone thinking that he can undertake anything as exalted as a race for the presidency. But I just looked at all the other candidates in the race, including Reagan, and thought that I wanted the Republican Party to nominate someone like me with more progressive views than the party had been exhibiting not only civil rights but on the role of government in general, and the part the government should play in improving the economy and achieve a stronger and more healthy democracy. I just had a feeling that despite the history of failure of third parties to overcome the duopoly of the Democrats and Republicans, that I could do it. I had that much political ego. I felt that when it came to particularly arguing a position and making a case I was widely acknowledge by my compatriots in the Congress – who had elected me Chairman

of their Conference after all, which was a competitive race with a conservative opponent from the state of Ohio, and I had been elected and reelected to that position, largely on the basis of the fact that I was regarded as a good spokesperson for the bill or viewpoint I was espousing. My high school and college debate experience that were part of my formative years just gave me the confidence that I could go into the much larger amphitheatre of public debate and discussion of the national campaign and do well. I had that kind of political ego, call it what you will, that there weren’t any of them that were better than I in making a case to the American public for the views that I held. In the GOP race, you were told early on that there would be no way the GOP would nominate you. Did you think that was true? Why was that so… For some of the reasons I have already tried to explain, I had been out of step with the Republican leadership. Let me give you another example. I don’t think it is mentioned in the book. I was very and increasingly troubled by our involvement in Vietnam. The whole situation in Southeast Asia – I had traveled there in Congressional trips and had seen with my own eyes the amphitheater in which the conflict was being waged and went to some funerals of soldiers from my own seven county district in northwest Illinois who had given their lives and had been lost in that conflict. I just was instinctively attracted to the idea that we ought to have a stronger untied nations and ultimately a world federation of nations that would be able to exert its influence and lessen the possibility that nations would be going to war over extending their influence, be it in southeast Asia or elsewhere in the world. I became the president of the world federalist association and served in that job for a number of year while I was in Congress as well as afterward. My whole philosophy with regard not only to important issues like Civil Rights but also with America’s participation in world affairs ought to be guided by something else than the principles of nationalism that I felt were so typical of both parties. I remember when the final vote came on a military appropriation act that would sustain the war in Vietnam. I voted against it. Gerald Ford, later President Ford, was the minority leader at the time. I was in the leadership as Chairman of the Conference. You had the minority leader, then you had the whip, then the Chairman of the Conference, and one other person, I forget who it was. There were four that were recognized as the leadership. Gerry Ford came to me after the vote had been cast and asked, “How could you do this to me? I just through practically putting the whip to the new class of Republicans in Congress to continue to support the appropriations that were being sought for the way, and you vote to cut off any further funding. How am I supposed to be the minority leader and expect these freshmen to follow the leaders if you as one of the leaders, split off and vote against any further money being appropriated for that?” I’m rambling a little bit about the independent positions that I took on that issue as well as Civil Rights and others as well that made me increasingly restive of the yoke, as it were, of being a loyal member of the Republican Party. So when the time came to decide whether or not, in view of my failure to win primaries as a Republican candidate for

president, it just seemed more than natural for me to say, the time has come to separate myself from a party with whom I have taken opposing views to their positions on issues like continuing the war in Vietnam and in the field of civil rights. I took a more spacious view to what degree the government should be involved in the economy and economic affairs then my conservative Republican brethren. It was just a collection of those ideas forming in my head. And then as it became every apparent that I was not going to win the nomination, that Ronald Regan would emerge as the nominee of the party, I was more than ready to listen to the frequent advice that I got from various people, that well you know it’s time for a third party in this country and make this a three party bid for the presidency, not just a fight between the Republicans and the Democrats. What I’m trying to understand, with respect to your involvement in the Republican race, did you have an expectation that you could win? I did. I really did. Based on the fact that I came very close to winning in Massachusetts. I think I already mentioned that Norman Lear dumped some money into that race. I came within 1,100 votes. But as the primary season worse on and after I could not win in my home state of Illinois, I saw that this was a futile quest and just for a variety of people who came to me who said, well you know you should think of this race in terms other than participating as a nominee of the Republican Party, run as an independent. It didn’t seam feasible not to at least assume that parties play an important part of political process, so we came up with the idea of actually starting a new political, third party and that led to, of course, the long grueling, grinding process of getting on the state ballots across the country. At one time we had as many as nine lawsuit pending in various federal courts around the country to overcome restrictive ballot access laws that said we couldn’t see our name on the ballot because we didn’t have a huge number of signatures or that we passed an early deadline that was easy for the major parties to comply with but for a new party the time had already passed. It required an enormous amount of ligation. One case went all the way to the Supreme Court, Anderson vs. Celebrizi, over my right to follow later my intention to run for president later than the two major parties. That case ultimately went all the way to the Supreme Court, which was decided long after the election but established the idea that the principle that I had fought for, that states were not free to discriminate on the basis of earlier filing dates against third party or independent movements. So what ultimately made you go the independent candidate route versus establishing the third party? Why did I do that? Well, it just seemed to me that running as an independent made it look too much like it was simply an ego trip on the part of John Anderson who thinks he is smarter on more qualified than anybody else, and particularly the two major party candidates, and fit to lead and conduct the affairs of the nation. We could get farther by making this appear to be not simply a vanity trip but a concerted effort to establish a new political force in the country that wasn’t just going to be here today and gone tomorrow,

but would be around building as the years role one, a sensible, feasible and believable opposition force to the continued control of simply the Democrats and the Republicans. It was to overcome the idea that this was just an individual effort, that we were spawning a movement that would bring together likeminded people in the larger aggregation of a political party to continue not just in this election in the years to come, to build on that and make it viable political force. I may be mistaken, but I thought did not wind up establishing this new party, and instead decided to qualify on the ballots as an independent? Oh, I did. By petition, I did actually qualify on the ballots on the various states. But it took all this litigation, nine suits going on simultaneously. It absorbed an awful lot of the money we raised simply fighting the legal battles let along paying for television and billboard and newspaper advertising that the other candidates could do because they were running within one of the two major parties. What did you want your basic appeal to voters to be? How did you want them to see you? Well, I wanted to portray the image that I could provide a new and a fresh approach in contrast to what I felt were the stilted and stale formulae that were being offered by the Democrats and the Republicans. One of the most notable memories for people out of the campaign, for example, was the 50 cent a gallon gasoline tax, instead of Jimmy Carter sitting in the White House wearing a sweater and saying, you know, turn down the thermostat [laughter] and the Republicans saying drill, baby drill and dig and find more oil and gas – I said the time had come for some national self-sacrifice. And the Felix Roten, a prominent financier from New York City, came aboard my campaign because he was fascinated by the idea that a politician would stick his neck out that far to tell the people you’re going to have to pay 50 cents a gallon more simply in one federal tax to fill your gas tank as an effort to drive down consumption and other unnecessary waste. And also, I had a vision laid out in the campaign of doing something that is being talked about this very moment, and that is neglected infrastructure. I wanted to be the Henry Clay who proposed way back in the 1830s and 1840s a national campaign to build infrastructure, that we ought to spend far more of our resources to build new roads and new bridges and improved transportation generally. I remember that as being one of the, we thought, most important bases that would validate the idea that it would take a new political party to advance the ideas of that kind. Were people ready for that? Were they receptive to the message of sacrifice? There was receptivity to the general idea, yes. But not enough, obviously. What Jim [Mason] writes in his book is that you were preaching sacrifice at the same time Reagan was preaching optimism…

Yes, I tried deliberately to draw that contrast that it was not all roses and that we had to face, like it or not, the bitter possibility that unless we mended our ways we would fall behind other nations in the drive for building the kind of economy that would be capable of sustaining full employment and maintaining our position as a leader in world trade and world commerce, that we had to do a lot of things at home to strengthen the infrastructure upon which all of this depended. If this was your appeal of calling for tough choices and so forth and telling audiences what they might not want to hear – why did there seem to be a shift away from this during the general election? Do you mean that there was more of the independent streak in the general election? No, that there was less. Mason suggests that in order to prove yourself as a credible candidate, you became more risk-adverse and were more likely, to frankly, pander to certain constituencies. For example, in the primary, you stood up to opponents of gun control… Oh yes, the gun issue. I will never forget that celebrated meeting as described in the book. It was up in New Hampshire. There was audible muttering that “we’ll take care of this guy when the meeting is over” [laughter] because I came out for gun control whereas all the others were opposed. Is it accurate to say that your independent campaign was run more like you were a traditional candidate, rather than an outsider? No, I don’t think so. In my view, that would not be an accurate description. It seems to me, to validate the argument that I was trying to make, that we ought to broaden the political spectrum – and surely there ought to be more than the outmoded views of the two parties – that a new party would be more receptive to new ideas. I think that flowered more in the independent phase in my bid for the presidency than I did when I was running as a candidate for the GOP nomination. There, I think there was more of a tendency to…well, not altogether, when you as many candidates as we had running, you had to think of ways and means to distinguish yourself from the pack. But I think as far as the more far-reaching reformulation of traditional democratic and republican ideas, and that a third party would be the spearhead to bring that about, that came definitely during the independent phase and not so much when I was contesting for the Republican nomination. May I get your reaction to a passage in the book? “For Anderson to be elected, he had to maintain that ‘Anderson difference’ that had catapulted him into the spotlight earlier in the year. Instead, his campaign team tried to run a very conventional effort without the type of candidate, the resources, the experience, or the staff necessary. The strategy of the independent campaign was based on the notion that if the third man wanted to be treated like one of the major party candidates, he had to act like one.”

No, I think I would take issue with that. Maybe memory and the passage of years had dimmed not only my sight but also my memory to some extent, but I think I was more gripped with the idea that rather than assuaging the fears of people that I would somehow outside of the mold of the traditional party candidate, I thought I had to be far more distinctive in order to warrant the effort that was required to elect someone from the National Unity Party. I would take issue with that. Maybe some of my speeches that I fail to recollect gave that impression. Obviously, that must be the case. In my own mind, I felt that I was truly, if I was going to break new ground by establishing a new party, that I would have to come up with something quite unique and quite different. And so what type of contrast did you draw specifically to both candidates. Maybe we can take each in turn. How about Ronald Reagan? Many contend he was perceived to be more of a right wing radical candidate, is that what you… I did try to push him in the public view into a corner where he was the captive of the ultra-conservative members of the Republican Party because, after all, there were gradations then as there are now of conservatism within the Republican Party. I don’t think I made a deliberate effort to radicalize him as an extremist and a far right…I think it was just, you know, he had the old view of things, and that I could offer something new and break new ground, just as I suggested with the 50 cent gas tax, that we could call upon the American people for sacrifice and hope that they would get the vision that this would in turn build a stronger economy and a better country. And how about President Cater? Of course, he was not a very popular incumbent at the time. How did you position yourself in the campaign with respect to his candidacy? Well, I think simply that Carter was weak and ineffective. His idea of wearing a sweater when he addressed the nation, as an example of the contribution Americans could make, was kind of a poor example of a really thoughtful and resourceful and innovative things that we would have to do to solve the energy problem. I think we played down the general theme that he was ineffective and ineffectual. I always remember the time I met him after the campaign at American University, where he was speaking. The person who was sponsoring the meeting told me President Carter knows you live in the vicinity and he wants to see you while he is here on campus. So I went to the meeting and was directed to the place at the exit where Carter was going to walk out and [laugher] walked past me. I stuck out my hand to say hello and he didn’t give me a backward glance. He was out of there like a shot. I could tell he held me in minimum regard. He didn’t want any part of me. It indicated to me he had never forgiven me for my campaign and the fact that…well, it didn’t lead to his demise. I wasn’t going to win anyway. What do you recall as the electoral strategy of the campaign? Did you have a plan to get the 270 electoral votes you needed?

Did we have a conscious strategy of how we would put together the majority? No, I’m afraid my memory fails me on that. I don’t know we actually had a conscious and deliberate strategy worked out in that regard. I think it…we were thinking more in terms of what we could do to increase popular support for my campaign and get people, as opposed to electors, to vote for me. I don’t think we had a very good…we didn’t have a good focus. Of course, I have for years now as a member of the board for the Center for Voting and Democracy, have been opposed to the Electoral College and supported the idea that it ought to be replaced and that you can do it with an interstate compact. That had my backing years ago. So, I don’t think we had a very strategy to win the Electoral College. When you made your announcement, you had your highest favorability and levels of support – in the mid-20s. How were you going to try to sustain and increase that through the summer months? … Let me rephrase. There was a pollster from Time Magazine who told you either you are going to make history and win, or you will only gain your base of support, which was about 7%. The difference between both scenarios was whether people believed you were a viable candidate capable of winning the election, in that voters did not feel they would be wasting a vote to support you. How did you prove yourself to be a viable candidate? How did you try to overcome the spoiler argument? I’m certainly aware of the fact that the spoiler argument was a real deterrent to winning and that people did not want to throw away something as important as a vote to choose a president by pursuing a hapless loser simply to enhance his personal view that he is better qualified than the other two. I have not really come to grips with your question as well I would like. I was constantly haunted throughout the campaign by the fear that that was the single greatest deterrent to building more and more support as the campaign went on, that people would say that they were wasting a vote. We had all kinds of slogans like, vote your conscious…don’t dependent on what people tell you what your candidate’s chances are, vote for someone who resonates the kind of opinions and views that you have…stand up for what is good for the country. I don’t know, those arguments sound a little specious even to me today when I sit here and recite them [laugher]. But I can’t think that we really had a clear vision, other than the fact that we were aware that the wasted vote argument would sway people, instead of their looking to the issue. We tried to say that among the candidates, I was the one who the most issue-oriented and that because of my experience in the Congress for 20 years, that I was familiar with the

issue, I had the background knowledge that would be needed to formulate intelligent and well-reasoned positions as a president. That was about all I could say. Right, and that is why I suppose you got many newspaper endorsements that identified you as the most qualified, but it came down to… I was well aware that people say in life it’s not always the best that emerges; there are many other factors that come to bear that will deny the best person or the best choice that the people could make. So, maybe one of those factors was how well you were able to connect with people during the campaign, on an emotional level, as you traveled the country? I thought…the thing back then as true today, the media were terribly important. To have the kind of budget required for a national campaign that would give you media exposure, you had to pay for it. You couldn’t be in more than one place at a time and you had to hope that your supporters could be attracted through the use of media that you could deploy to propagate your views and opinions. You couldn’t personally meet enough voters and shake as many hands as necessary to win. You had to get some exposure in the media and as time went on, it became apparent we were not raising the kind of money that was needed to do that. How do you feel you were treated by the media? I really didn’t spend a lot of time railing at the media for not adequately exposing me to the public. Some of the newspapers that were controlled by ultra-conservative interests were less inclined to talk about me, but no I never had the feeling that the media was out to get me. I just thought that I didn’t have the money to spread my story as widely as I would have wished. What do you think the challenge was in raising the funds necessary to be successful in both the GOP contest and the general election? Compared to the money that was available to the major parties. I forget how much we spent… I believe your campaign spent about one million dollars on TV advertising in the last few weeks. How much? That’s a pathetic amount compared to the other candidates. I know fundraising was a real problem and we were terribly happy with the federal check that matched some of our fundraising. Otherwise, I would have ended up deeply in the hole. Nothing like paying for a campaign that was already over. If I could ask you about your independent campaign staff. Your choice of David Garth on one hand added a lot of credibility to your campaign because of all of his experience, but do you think the fact that you needed to run a different kind of campaign as a different kind of candidate caused some tension?

I think there was some inconsistency there in the approach we should be making as a thoroughly independent candidates. And you’re right, his background was in partisan politics. But I don’t recall he really was effective in any sense in muzzling any of the arguments I was making, or that he said hey you better stay off this issue because you will alienate this group from which we otherwise could expect some financial support, I don’t think I got that kind of advice. If he fell down at all in his efforts it was because he was used to a more traditional political campaign where one party was out to get the other party and being short of money, as we were, he couldn’t do the things he was mostly trained and gifted to do like conduct a massive advertising campaign through the media to get people to support me. He was a little uncomfortable at times I got the sense. A broader question is this – there are a lot of barriers to running outside of the two party system, like the ballot access and fundraising, even debates… Well, the debate blow was really horrific, when Carter refused. In the one debate, the last debate, the League was afraid they would lose sponsorship right if they didn’t get the incumbent president to participate and he steadfastly would not get on the stage with an independent as well as Ronald Reagan. When they caved because of what I thought was their rather selfish interest in making sure their role was protected as a debate sponsor, that was so damaging. I often said that instead of the almost 7% of the vote that I got, that I think we would have been up over 20% easily if we had been in that last debate. I don’t have any proof, I just have those instincts that that close to the election when most people were making up their minds, ten days before the vote itself, that was the death nail for my campaign. I have never quite forgiven the League, which is why I have always supported the idea that there ought to be a independent mechanism to conduct and sponsor debates. Could you describe what the debate was like that you were able to participate in with Reagan? Well, I know in a poll that was taken of people who were experts in debates said I won the debate. I felt very comfortable about the whole thing and very pleased that I had the opportunity to go one on one with one of the major two candidates. But one debate doth not make. It took more than that of course to overcome the inherent belief that ours was a two party culture, and that you would somehow be throwing away a vote by voting for someone else. It was early in the campaign and the afterglow didn’t last too long. If I had been in there ten days before the election, I don’t know it would have swung the election I wouldn’t go that far, but I think I would have gotten sufficient surge of support and votes, it might have well have influenced me in the decision later on as to whether I should continue the effort and continue with a third party. Going back to my earlier question – to what extent was the result of the election a result of the obstacles inherent in an independent run, or a result of the effectiveness of your campaign strategy?

I think more the former, not the latter. I blame the two party system and the grip that it continued to hold on the minds of the voters as being the only practical way of selecting a leader was to choose one party or another. I still would like to see a strong third party in this country. I think the kind of deadlock that we seeing today going on today in Congress on the issue of what to do about the debt. I really wish we had a parliamentary system, where it is possible to gain the support of the people more quickly when it is needed. If you had to change something about the strategy what would you have changed? Well, no one has asked me about this in a long time. I’m trying to think of what I’d say. I don’t know what I would do differently. It’s not that it was a perfect effort. I’m not sure. Maybe find a few more provocative ideas that would excite people and not simply run on my record and talk about a 50 cent gas tax. Maybe I could have developed a few more new and innovative approaches to make the case of electing an independent candidate over a major party candidate.

Interview with Roger Craver What was the mood of the country in 1980? The whole Vietnam era culminating with Watergate in 1975 was one of intense mistrust and negative feelings toward Washington. The problem in 1980 largely was a back draft coming out of the Carter years where American’s seemingly weak foreign policy and over dependence on oil created a feeling not unlike the economic feeing today – America was seeming to lose its grip. And of course this was also in the context of who was perceived as a weak president who had caused this. The Republican field, while not at all like the current field, it did have very responsible and well-known Republicans in it, as well as Ronald Reagan, who was not as well known and not as highly respected inside Washington. That was the seedbed in which the first Anderson – in essence there were two, one for the GOP nomination, one for independent campaign. The first campaign was designed basically to show Anderson as basically quite different-minded as the others. The initial direct mail effort had a disappointing response. Why do you think that was? Well he wasn’t resonating with the Republican primary voters. One, he wasn’t in a lot of places. He didn’t get media attention to nearly the end of that campaign, and he stayed out of some key states, for example Connecticut. He rose to be a sort of media darling, mid-year in those primaries and then stayed out of Connecticut, although the media didn’t pay large attention to that fact. When the returns came in, they were horrible, and that’s what began to take the bloom off the rose. The direct mail really works when it was Daniel-in-the-Lions’-Den. Had he been out in the mail when he first did well against the Republican field by standing up in those debate, the mail probably would have worked. But we weren’t doing that then, someone else was. It seems the strategy wasn’t to portray him as a candidate who happened to be socially liberal and economically conservative, although he was. The strategy was that things are going wrong for the country and the status quo was unacceptable. To what extent is that true? That is exactly true of the fundraising. I was trying to think before you called about the opening line of the initial opening line of the couple million letters we sent out was. It is: “I think Americans believe that when activated, individual voters can make an enormous difference. I sure hope so because I’ve staked my entire career on it.” Something to that effect. The idea was to put him out there as a candidate of thinking people, basically independents, regardless of their partisan affiliation. After success in New England, your firm advanced the campaign funds for a large round of mailing. What about Anderson’s early performance made his candidacy seem possible?

I remember Tom Matthews, my partner, met with John and Bob Farmer, who later went on to become a big Democratic fundraising in Boston, and sat in hotel bedroom and talked about this. We just came off the ‘76 campaign in which we represented Mo Udall and we saw what an independent minded, plainspoken guy can do in this market that we represented. And we also had discovered that in the McGovern campaign in 72. We had a history of knowing that regardless of the electoral calculus, that this type of figure would raise substantial money. That’s why we offered to advance the money and do it. We were getting returns 4-6% which even then was a high percentage of response and a very high average gift on the first donation people made. Did you think he had a chance in the primary? Yes, we did. As a matter of fact, I do think had the League of Women Voters, had Jimmy Carter not pulled out of the debate, it would have made a substantial difference. These sorts of things go up and down very fast, as we have seen this year. It goes up and down fast among the general electorate also. We always figured if we could get him up near 20%, he could go way beyond that once that threshold was met. The reason we felt that, Nick, was that the big problem, which is more prevalent than it is now, was that these independent candidates were viewed as spoilers, not just by party loyalists but by the electorate also. There was a fear about whether they would get enough political capital or gravitas to be able to govern. The partisans and the media drove that home over and over again. Today, it’s different because no one is governing and the American public is way more willing to take a risk on an unknown because the known unacceptable. It’s no longer the difference between the lesser of two evils – now it is the difference between all evil and something else. I might have misspoke, but did you have any faith that he was a viable candidate in the primary election? No, we didn’t think he would make it through the Republican primaries. We got involved to take it to the general election. The financial theory behind that was the body of law that was established five years earlier with the federal election commission act of 1975 allowed for the creation of public funding once a party reached a certain threshold, 5 percent of the vote as I recall. We felt was there was a chance with this new act to establish a third force presence that would carry on even after 1980. But we truly felt we had a shot in 1980. Can you describe the first serious meeting in which an independent candidacy was discussed? What thinking went into the idea that such a route forward was possible given large obstacles like ballot access? Well, like almost everything you do in politics if you hung around it long enough, it’s a gut feeling. We had seen some signs of this guy being able to motivate people, particularly young people, although then there was not the hope then young people would turn out as they did in 2008. I think our motivation was the fact that neither Tom nor I, nor his political staff from the Hill, really had much faith that Reagan – we didn’t know

Reagan, and what we knew we didn’t like – and we were simply fed up with Jimmy Carter. It was really sort of a lifeboat for those who wanted to see a different type of executive in the White House. Do you think in that meeting there was a realistic assessment of the obstacles that he would face running outside of both major parties? No, absolutely not. Frankly, in those types of meetings, Nick, there never is. If anything innovative in politics was subjected to scrutiny or a detailed examination of the problems, nothing would ever be undertaken. For example, when we started Common Cause in 1969, I went to David Broder of the Washington Post. Broder said go back and tell Gardner that he’s crazy. No American will pay $15 to join anything to improve government. That type of idealism and hope, it becomes more of the gasoline on the fire for doing something than anything cerebral. As far as the campaign strategy, did you get a sense there was one? To get to 270 Electoral Votes? There was. It wasn’t as clear-cut as things are today, because we has several things we had to battle at the same time. We had to deal with the ballot access question. We had to deal with the Federal Election Commission. We had to deal with money, although money was never a problem in the campaign in any significant way. The ballot access issue was serious because every time you think through an electoral strategy, it was like playing checkers. If we could get into Pennsylvania, then we can do this. And if we can’t get into Pennsylvania, then we have to do that. That was pretty dicey. There really was not much to be learned from previous candidates. The closest third party candidacy in time to Anderson’s was George Wallace’s and that wasn’t very instructive, because he basically was a populist candidate who worked the border states in the south. Did you say you thought that money was not a problem during the independent campaign? In those days, there was enough money to do it. It probably would have become a problem toward the end because the parties had federal money and we didn’t. But we had enough money to keep the thing moving and to keep things afloat. We all had to make due. In campaigns there is never enough, and it was a very shoe string campaign. But what he had going for him that neither Reagan or Carter had was he was a media darling. These reporters really adored him for most of the campaign. The Washington Post was on every campaign trip we took, for example. In those days, there was a brief window between 1975 and the mid-80’s where it was truly small gift fundraising, there wasn’t anything else in the system. There weren’t 527s, super pacs, or soft money. They two parties basically $30 million each to put into this and at the end of the day we had $16 million or something around there. Looking back, would you attribute the outcome of the election to his strategy or structural limitations of running as an independent?

I think had the strategy been different, we may have overcome the problems and perception of being a spoiler. What happened in the summer of 1980, while the two conventions were going on, David Garth – who was a very skilled strategist, so I don’t blame him for it – he made the decision and successfully persuaded Anderson to make a trip to Israel and 1. It got Anderson out of the country at the very time he should have been in the country around those conventions, and 2. His going on what was largely perceived as a pandering trip to Israel made him look like every other politician. It was at that point he began to lose his luster as a truly independent thinking guy. I also think that Carter’s decision not to debate was significant. I think the post-mortem showed that everyone thought that Anderson was taking away from Carter votes but as I remember going over this will Bill Schneider, and I remember that Anderson was drawing from both about equally, if anything drawing from Reagan a bit more heavily. I think Carter over reacted and they did what they thought best. Who were the people who donated to Anderson? They were what I call the extreme middle. They were moderate Republicans, members of Common Cause, donors to the ACLU, People for the Americans Way. It wasn’t the left wing but the extreme middle. The people who cared a lot about civil liberties and the new environmental movement, who care about civil rights. Anderson was right down their ally in terms of women’s right and environment – that gas tax of his. He had a history of as a younger man not being terribly good on civil liberties and civil rights, but recanted that and it never caused much of a stir. I think without doubt these people perceived him as sort of a Mo Udall. What was his basic appeal to voters? With John, I don’t think there was any premeditation about painting a character – very cerebral, very academic. He would use words like ratiocination, whatever the **** that meant. He would never stay on message. Jesus, every stump speech was different because he got bored so easily. He was sort of a lecturer on the stump, and so I think the perception people got was here is an experienced legislator and the other thing was that he was innovative in terms of proposing policies. His fifty cent gas tax got him a lot of mileage in terms of people saying he has the guts to stand up. The press also loved what was a rather mild speech in New Hampshire that turned into a Daniel-in-the-Lion’s-Den story of him confronting the NRA. He had the view of being a John McCain maverick without the mean spiritedness and behavior of Senator McCain. Was there a shift though in the general election? Did the independent campaign team try to make him a conventional candidate to play thing safe? I think that is a legitimate conclusion. It was that trip to Israel that was the highest profile, but there was step after step of trimming. Instead of sticking with his original position he would shave it on the edges and start coming across as just another politician.

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