LEONIA, Brand-new Jersey — Along with Election Day drawing near, the time is ripe to look spine at campaigns past. One of the most fascinating, in my view, was 1964. That’s as soon as my dad ran for president of the United States of America. That additionally marks the time the Kitman clan began its adore affair Along with Land Rovers. Pioneering stuff, you will certainly agree, for a suburban Brand-new Jersey family Along with no background in politics or off-roading, no?
Perhaps I ought to start at the beginning.
This story originally appeared in the November 1996 issue of AUTOMOBILE.
Pfc. Marvin Kitman (retired) sought to secure the Republican Party’s nomination for the presidency in 1964 for reasons that were unclear to me then, as soon as I joined the second grade, and that continue to be shrouded in mystery to this day. However I believe it had something to do Along with his employment as a freelance columnist for The Saturday Evening Post and an editor of Monocle, an irreverent (and regrettably short-lived) quarterly of political satire.
Dad’s qualifications were every one of the Constitution needed and more. That is, he was American born. At 34 and a half, he happened to be the only Monocle staffer who, by Inauguration Day, would certainly have actually obtained the requisite minimum age of 35 years. As an added bonus, my old man was probably the magazine’s only registered Republican. I additionally believe he was the most nuts.
Adopting the campaign slogan “I’d quite be president compared to write,” Dad ran as a Lincoln Republican. The Grand Old Celebration is, after all, the Celebration of Abraham Lincoln. In a press release announcing his candidacy, he sized up his Republican primary opponents. “Rockefeller is a Roosevelt Republican. Goldwater is a McKinley Republican. As a Lincoln Republican, I am the only true reactionary in the race. My brand of conservatism goes spine 100 years.”
To prove it, he adopted as his own the unexpurgated Republican platform of 1864, calling for, among others things, the abolition of slavery and reinforcement of the garrison at Fort Sumter.
In 1963-’64, at the height of the Civil Rights movement, I imagined this was viewed by some as charged satire and vaguely pinko. However Dad said he did not strategy to inject any sort of controversial troubles in to the campaign, others compared to the religious issue. “I’m two times as Jewish as Barry Goldwater,” he was frequently quoted as saying. (Only one of Goldwater’s parents was Jewish.)
Winning as it every one of sounds, you will certainly have actually gathered by now that it was not enough to push the honorable wise guy from the terrific state of Brand-new Jersey over the top at the Cow Palace in San Francisco in the summer of 1964 as soon as the GOP nominating convention was held. Goldwater got the nod, only to go down in flames versus Democrat Lyndon Baines Johnson in November.
Of note here was the Kitman campaign policy of “open deals, openly arrived at.” As the fall 1964 variety of Monocle reported, “Due to the fact that Kitman was unwilling to compromise on his easy reactionary principles, he limited his compromises to a collection of deals Along with the business world. A staunch believer in free enterprise in the White Residence … he freely solicited the support of business leaders. ‘My administration … will certainly be curious about conflicts, not conflicts of interest,’” he’d written to a prospective supporter hopefully.
Most notable of the firms willing to strike a deal Along with this obvious nut case was the Rover Motor Company. Their American advertising agency, the small San Francisco shop of Freeman & Gossage, had the bright pointer of supplying the fledgling Kitman campaign Along with cars and shirts (Eagle Shirtmakers was one more client). Rover’s American officers bought adman Howard Gossage’s brainstorm of supplying the Kitman bandwagon with, er, bandwagons and jumped in headfirst, tongues firmly planted in cheeks.
As Gertrude I. “Jimmy” McWilliams, Rover’s executive vice president for communications wrote Nov. 20, 1963, the day my father announced his candidacy: “We are definitely proud to have actually a Land Rover be the auto from which you will certainly stand for office. It has actually been used for some varied purposes — honorable and otherwise — However never, to our knowledge, has actually a candidate for office earned use of its terrific go-anywhere features to carry his campaign to the people. … terrific good luck to you, sir. …”
[Historical Note: Some years later, Land Rover supplied vehicles to the campaign of Robert Abrams, then running (or standing, in the English phrase) for the office of Bronx (New York) borough president. Perhaps they did so in the name of balance. For unlike my father, Abrams was a Democrat. Also unlike my father, he won. However, a contemporary Election Day print advertisement for Land Rover that appeared in The New York Times — featuring a picture of the very campaign car with steel speaking platform they’d supplied Dad for the San Francisco convention — assured readers, “No under-the-dashboard deals have been made!”]
The payoff in 1964 was an advertisement Land Rover placed in Monocle, Along with candidate Kitman addressing readers: “In my line of job — I’m a Republican presidential candidate — the campaign vehicle is a essential to success. I am proud to say that Land Rover is my official campaign car.
“I have actually earned no promises to the Rover Motor Company in exchange for the free use of their campaign vehicle. However if my Secretary of Defense wishes to use Land Rovers in the armed forces as opposed to Jeeps, I won’t stand in his way. They’re already used by 26 others armies and 37 police departments the globe over. …
“Just what I enjoy ideal concerning my Land Rover is that it goes anywhere. In Brand-new Hampshire it took me right up to the ski slopes, solving one of my most vexing issues as a politician: I don’t enjoy to shake hands. My Land Rover earned it feasible for me to park next to the ski tows and personally wave to 3,000 voters as they went by — none the wiser.”
It took 100 signatures to grab on the Brand-new Hampshire primary ballot, However Dad’s operatives were up to the task. “I will certainly go to Brand-new Hampshire,” he promised the electorate, “once ski conditions improve.” It was a promise he kept. I went to Brand-new Hampshire too, in a 12-seat, 109-inch-wheelbase Land Rover station wagon.
My parents rode up front, campaign manager Victor Navasky and speechwriter Richard Lingman shared the middle bench, and my sister Suzy (age 4) and I were entertained in Just what we called the “way, method back” by our trombone-playing baby sitter Johnny Peck, age 13. I remember the Rover as slow-moving and rough riding. Optional Kodiak heater not withstanding, I remember it was fairly chilly. However I remember it mostly as deeply, undeniably cool. That’s why I spent the next 30 years pestering my old man to buy one. Such are the seeds of madness.
With a AAA Tripkit for recommendations (“This isn’t a political club, However I would certainly assume that you would certainly wish to visit every town and hamlet,” the AAA man had told our candidate) we scoured Brand-new Hampshire — site of the presidential season’s very first primary — in search of votes. The campaign was not well financed, so after a do or two we went home.
None of it earned any sort of sense to me at the time, However today, examining the vast historical tape (which features some newspaper clippings, a couple troubles of Monocle, and a 45 rpm pressing of the peppy campaign number “Sing a Song of Marvin Kitman”), I gather that 725 of Brand-new Hampshire’s concerned Republicans cast their lot Along with my father, which is a lot more compared to I would certainly have actually guessed.
Unfortunately, the only delegate actually pledged to him, Fritz Wetherbee of Jaffrey, Brand-new Hampshire, turned out to be a normal Benedict Arnold. Listed on the Brand-new Hampshire Republican primary ballot that year as “Favorable to the nomination of Marvin Kitman for president,” he threw his support at the convention to Henry Cabot Lodge.
Easy come, Basic go. Such was the deference the old Rover Motor Company afforded former presidential aspirants that lots of times in the 1960s and early ’70s they’d treat my dad to a loaner Land Rover. Once, we piled in to a 109-inch station wagon and drove to Wheeling, West Virginia, where my dad went to publicly support the free enterprise spirit of the Wheeling Steel Company — which had simply defied a presidential order to hold the line of steel prices — by buying a half-ton slab of their ideal Along with his name on it and carrying it house to display on his lawn. one more time, we drove from London to Geneva and spine again in an 88-inch wagon. Dad says his ears are still ringing from the stints on the French autoroute. It’s true: No crowd of adoring political admirers could ever scream as loudly as a collection IIA Land Rover pulling highway duty.
The disastrous news at the polls in 1964 spelled the end of Dad’s political career. He sits about nowadays watching TV every one of the time, However we feel that’s OK, due to the fact that he’s the TV critic for Newsday, the Long Island, Brand-new York newspaper.
The method I see it, the lasting and worthwhile contributions of his campaign are twofold:
First, my dad was the very first of the light-hearted postwar presidential candidates, the proto-Paulsen, if you will. (Editor David E. Davis Jr. ran Daniel S. Gurney for president in 1964, However the bid had to be withdrawn due to the fact that Gurney was also young.) Devoid of my dad, that knows whether we would certainly have actually witnessed later the satirical efforts by Pat Paulsen and the Yippies. (that can easily forget their Nobody for President campaign: “Nobody Cares concerning You,” “Nobody will certainly Reduced Your Taxes!”) And Just what of joke candidacies enjoy Snoopy and Zippy the Pinhead? And did I forget to mention Ross Perot? Yeah, thanks a genuine lot, Pops.
So let’s make that one enduring contribution. If my Dad hadn’t run for president, I may never ever have actually been introduced to Land Rovers, and I wouldn’t have actually my current auto of choice, a 1995 Defender 90 station wagon. That earns my vote.