RN and Sammy Davis Jr.
Sammy Davis, Jr. was master of ceremonies for the entertainment portion of the Young Voters Rally at the Miami Marine Stadium. (Photo: UPI)
42 years ago today, without referring to notes, President Nixon spoke to a crowd of young voters at a rally in Miami, Florida on the second day of the Republican National Convention. To chants of “Four More Years,” RN assured the rally goers that he was going to continue unrelentingly to work for their futures.
“I have been trying to work for your future. We have had some disappointments, but we have had some successes, and I am going to talk about both tomorrow as I make the acceptance speech,” voiced RN.
“But should the opportunity come to serve 4 more years, I am not going to be resting on what we have done in the past. I am going to be thinking of these wonderful young faces I see out here, your enthusiasm, your idealism, your hard work.”
Watch the entertainment from that night and President Nixon’s remarks below:
Perhaps the highlight of the 1972 Republican convention, President Nixon addressed criticism of Sammy Davis Jr., who was master of ceremonies for the entertainment portion of the rally, because of his support of Richard Nixon and for having been invited to the White House. RN’s response received thunderous applause from the young crowd of over 6,500:
Well, just let me give you the answer. You aren’t going to buy Sammy Davis, Jr., by inviting him to the White House. You are going to buy him by doing something for America, and that is what we are doing.
In his memoirs, RN reflects on the memorable moment:
I flew to Miami on Tuesday afternoon, August 22. That night I made an unscheduled appearance at the open-air youth rally, and the reception I received overwhelmed me. Pam Powell, the daughter of Dick Powell and June Allyson, escorted me onto the stage. Hands above their heads, four fingers outstretched, the thousands of young people took up a chant that I was hearing for the first time: “Four more years! Four more years! It was deafening. It was music. This was a new king of Republican youth: they weren’t square, but they weren’t ashamed of being positive and proud.
The picture that is probably most remembered from the 1972 convention is of Sammy Davis Jr., impulsively hugging me on the stage at the youth rally. When the crowd finally quieted down, I described my first meeting with him at the White House reception a few weeks earlier. We had both talked about our backgrounds and about how we both came from rather poor families. “I know Sammy is a member of the other party,’ I said. “I didn’t know when I talked to him what he would be doing in this election campaign. But I do know this. I want to make this pledge to Sammy, I want to make it to everybody here, whether you happen to be black or white, or young or old, and all of those who are listening. I believe in the American dream. Sammy Davis believed in it. We believe in it because we have seen it come true in our own lives.” For me – and, I think for many others – the youth rally was the highlight of the convention.