The polarizing rhetoric in presidential candidate Barry Goldwater’s 1964 acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention left the Republican Party torn between his and Governor Rockefeller’s loyalists. Months later, Goldwater lost in a landslide defeat to Lyndon Johnson due to a lack of support from Republicans who had been alienated by his words at the convention. The party remained divided in the following years, and as a result RN’s path to the presidency was marked by his ability not only to reunite the Party, but also to increase its number of supporters by campaigning in areas that were traditionally un-Republican.

RN wanted not only to heal the divide in the Republican Party, but also to attract new voters from other areas of the country, specifically Southern states. In an editorial printed in The North American Newspaper Alliance Column in 1966, RN described to readers the importance of developing a more functional two party system in the “Solid South”, a nickname earned by the firmly Democratic electoral voting record the states had held since the end of the Civil War. View the editorial piece below:

RN stated in the article that in Southern legislatures Republicans were outnumbered 15 – 1 by Democrats, but they would be able to gain traction in the South if they focused on issues that would open a more honest and competitive political dialogue and ultimately foster a two-party system.

RN’s first order of business in the editorial was to write any racists out of the Republican Party, asserting that the issue of equality and morality was not political, and that campaigning on immoral positions for political gain was detrimental to all of the nation’s people, calling the quest for racially-motivated votes a hunt for “fool’s gold”.

He went on to say that Republicans had a responsibility to adhere to the principals of the party of Lincoln, and that, “…they should leave it to the George Wallaces and the Lister Hills to squeeze the last ounces of political juice from the rotting fruit of racial injustice.” He insisted that Republicans represent a party whose people were, “…liberal in their concern for people and conservative in their respect for the rule of law.”

Similar views were presented by RN in “A New Alignment for American Unity”, an address that was broadcast on CBS Radio in May, 1968. In this address RN described the South as being politically “in ferment”, ready to move out of a one-party political system. View the pamphlet below:

The rejection of racist politicking and a call for the revival of Lincoln’s principals were also echoed in a brochure produced for the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida in August, 1968. The brochure hinged on a statement that Lincoln had made to Congress about rising to face the challenges of the “…stormy present,” and urging the voters in the South to, “…think anew and act anew.” View the brochure below:

Though RN was unpopular with a majority of the Southern voters who would go on to vote for Governor George Wallace in the 1968 Presidential election, his position resonated with voters in the Carolinas and Kentucky that had traditionally been a part of the Democratic “Solid South.” This support ultimately helped him secure the Presidential office in 1968.