With the nation still reeling from the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy and the Vietnam war raging in Asia, Richard Nixon stepped up to deliver an acceptance speech at the GOP convention in Miami Beach, Fla. that continues to shape the party.
Both NewsHour historians, Peniel Joseph and Richard Norton Smith, selected the speech for helping reshape the Republican Party, but for separate reasons.
For Norton Smith, the speech outlines a bold new foreign policy of engagement and a noticeably conservative domestic agenda.
“He wanted to bring about a political realignment, a post-New Deal, broadly conservative party,” Norton Smith told the Online NewsHour. “Nixon appeals to old blue-collar workers, social conservatives who had been part of the New Deal coalition and people who are open to changing their votes, if not necessarily their party registration because they are not necessary happy with the social upheavals going on around them.”
Joseph, on the other hand, sees the Nixon speech as a successful effort to rally the “silent majority” around conservative values through carefully chosen, but still loaded, “code words.”
“What Nixon’s doing, he’s really providing language, and eloquent articulation of the way in which suburban whites are feeling as early as the early 1960s… Nixon is trying to appeal to suburban warriors who feel that blacks are encroaching in on their dream.”
Full Text and Audio of Nixon’s speech (American Presidency Project)