Electing the President: Six Steps to the Summit - 2012

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    • 00:01

      BARACK OBAMA: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear.

    • 00:04

      GEORGE H. W. BUSH: I, George Walker Bush, do solemnly swear.

    • 00:07

      BILL CLINTON: I, William Jefferson Clinton,do solemnly swear.

    • 00:11

      RONALD REAGAN: I, Ronald Reagan, do solemnly swear.

    • 00:14

      JOHN F. KENNEDY: I, John Fitzgerald Kennedy,do solemnly swear.

    • 00:17

      FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT: I, Franklin Delano Roosevelt,do solemnly swear that I will faithfullyexecute the office of President of the United States.

    • 00:28

      NARRATOR: In our nation's history,less than 50 individuals out of America's millions of peoplehave been selected for the Office of President.Some have distinguished themselves.Some have been only adequate.And a few have failed.This program outlines the six-step processa candidate for President must successfully

    • 00:50

      NARRATOR [continued]: negotiate in order to reach our nation's highest office.

    • 01:26

      NARRATOR [continued]: Today, the media, and most particularly, television,with expanded news programs and 24-hour,seven-day-a-week reporting have opened the governmental processto the American people to an extent never thought possibleonly a few years ago.At any hour of the day or night onecan tune into a cable or dish network

    • 01:48

      NARRATOR [continued]: and follow the workings of one branch of governmentor another.Some call those who do tune in "news junkies," because if weare to believe what polls tell us,many Americans tune out such programs or hear themonly as background for other activitiesthey see as more important to their lives.Often, they seem to pay attention to government

    • 02:10

      NARRATOR [continued]: only when something seems to be going wrong.On those occasions it becomes obviousthat they only vaguely understand how and whythe process works as it does.Unfortunately, when we don't understand the processwe often see it negatively and may decidenot to get involved at all.This can be extremely dangerous for a democracy such as ours.

    • 02:40

      NARRATOR [continued]: For over 100 years from its invention by a minorityparty in the 1830s until the 1950s,the convention stood as the political centerpieceof the presidential selection process.Winning the nomination at conventionwas a giant step to the office.If a candidate could not capture the nomination of a major party

    • 03:02

      NARRATOR [continued]: at its national convention, he had no chance to win election.The conventions were dominated by the party's leadersand party workers, who came together once every fouryears to serve as a deliberative bodyand to select their most important candidate.The Progressive Era in American historyproduced initiative, referendum, recall, direct election

    • 03:25

      NARRATOR [continued]: of senators, and the direct primary,in which ordinary citizens could take partin government and in candidate selection.By the early part of the 20th century,Americans were voting in these primary elections for choicesof candidates in the parties.Although at the presidential level,the results tended to be instructive rather

    • 03:45

      NARRATOR [continued]: than directive.That is, the delegates did not haveto vote at convention as the voters back home had suggested.Conventions, though somewhat tarnishedby corruption in the states, continuedto dominate the process at the national level.In the 1920s, even though it took the delegatesmore than 100 ballots to get a nominee,

    • 04:07

      NARRATOR [continued]: convention delegates continued to make the choices.And as late as 1932, the Democratic delegate rulesrequired that a candidate get at least 2/3of their votes to be nominated.For all the claims that party bosses pulled the stringsat conventions, as they seemed to do in 1920 whenthe Republicans nominated Warren Harding,

    • 04:28

      NARRATOR [continued]: delegates to the convention in 1940chose a very unlikely candidate, charismatic dark horse WendellWillkie, who had been a member of the oppositionparty just a few years before.[CROWD CHEERING]

    • 04:57

      NARRATOR [continued]: By 1952, things had begun to change.The nominations of Adlai Stevenson and Dwight Eisenhowermarked the last conventions in which the delegates weretruly free to deliberate about the candidates presentedto them.What had happened?First, the system of state conventionshad been in decline since before the beginning

    • 05:19

      NARRATOR [continued]: of the 20th century.More and more states began to usethe new direct primary method to select their candidates.This new system opened the selection processto ordinary people, and not only gave new powerto individuals but also to statesas partners in the national party selection process.

    • 05:40

      NARRATOR [continued]: Our two parties are, after all, confederationsof state and local organizations.They are not federal or unitary in nature.Most political work and action and most electionsare at the state and local level.Originally, even our senators, chosen by state legislatures,were thought of as ambassadors of the states

    • 06:02

      NARRATOR [continued]: to the national government.The US Constitution does not even mention political parties.In fact, at the time of its adoptionmany of our founding fathers hoped they would not develop.But develop they did, and when thathappened parties first used the caucus methodto select candidates.

    • 06:23

      NARRATOR [continued]: That was followed by conventions at every level,and finally, the primary election.A primary election is a party electionpaid for at government expense, with a secret ballot justlike the general election in the fall.But primaries are held in the early part of the year.Any legal voter can participate, either as a candidate

    • 06:45

      NARRATOR [continued]: or as a voter.Each state follows its own special set of rules.But essentially, anyone can be listedon his or her party's ballot, and anyonecan vote for anyone named on that ballot.In some states, the parties exercise some controlby holding what are called closed primaries.In these, a voter may vote in the party primary

    • 07:09

      NARRATOR [continued]: only if that voter is willing to indicate with which partyhe is affiliated.After passing the party challenge table,the voter moves to sign in with the election day clerks.Notice, in this state the voter indicates the choice of partyby writing R or D in the space next to their name.

    • 07:29

      NARRATOR [continued]: Voters are often confused on primary day,when they forget that they are votingto select candidates for the party,not electing people to office.Other states conduct open primaries.In these, independent or non-affiliated votersmay vote in the primary of choice.

    • 07:50

      NARRATOR [continued]: Party regulars generally think this is not fair.Why should someone not connected with a partyhave the right to pick its candidates?In the 2000 presidential electionyear, some observers noted that because Senator John McCain'sviews were more acceptable to Democratic voters, many of them

    • 08:11

      NARRATOR [continued]: crossed over to the Republican primary in open primary statesand voted for him in an attempt to defeat George W. Bush, whoseemed the more popular choice of mostregular Republican voters.This process is called party raiding,and can skew the numbers or may even

    • 08:32

      NARRATOR [continued]: cause the selection of the weakest of candidates.Nonetheless, it is popular with the votersbecause it is more democratic.As late as the 1950s, when state primarieshelped select presidential candidates,they were called preferential primariesbecause they were not binding on the delegates to convention.

    • 08:53

      NARRATOR [continued]: Often, the actual delegates had beenselected not in the primaries but by party caucus or stateconvention.So the delegates did not have to vote as the people back homehad instructed.For instance, in 1952, even though Senator Estes Kefauverof Tennessee won primaries, Adlai Stevenson,

    • 09:14

      NARRATOR [continued]: President Truman's choice, was the choiceof the Democratic Convention.Later, states began to lock in their delegates, at leastfor the first ballot.They directed that the delegates votethe way they were instructed in the presidential primary.

    • 09:31

      ANNOUNCER: Alabama.Alabama.[CROWD CHEERING]

    • 09:37

      ANNOUNCER: 67 votes, Alabama.

    • 09:41

      NARRATOR: This development may have transformed the conventionand election process as much as any other electoral developmentin the 20th century.Some states, like Iowa, have chosennot to adopt the direct primary methodfor presidential selection.They continue to use the older method, called the caucus.

    • 10:03

      NARRATOR [continued]: This method involves a number of meetingsof active local and state party leaders, organization people,who meet to consider who they will support.Because Iowa has traditionally been the first stateto vote in this fashion for presidential candidates,its results are closely watched by the mediaand other political leaders.

    • 10:23

      NARRATOR [continued]: Even though some states continue to use the caucus or conventionmethod, by 1972 a candidate who won enough primariescould not be denied the nomination at the party'snational convention.Since the 1950s, no convention has gone beyond one ballot.From now on, the only time convention delegates

    • 10:43

      NARRATOR [continued]: will really have a choice is in a case where no candidate hasbeen able to capture 51% of the delegatesduring the primary season.Throughout the last two decades stateshave juggled the dates of these direct presidential primaries,attempting to increase their impact on the selectionprocess.

    • 11:04

      NARRATOR [continued]: Most have moved them back well before the middle of the yearwhere they had been before.Leaders of a number of southern statesfelt they could get more leverage and attention if theyscheduled their primaries for the same day earlyin the primary season.The media called it Super Tuesdaybecause of the large number of delegatesa candidate could pick up on that day.

    • 11:27

      NARRATOR [continued]: This knocked out at least two hopefuls in 2000.When a candidate withdraws, state and national conventionrules determine what happens to the delegate votes whichhave already been earned.Single states with large voting populations, and thereforelarge convention delegations, remain influential.New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Texas, and California

    • 11:51

      NARRATOR [continued]: are prizes for the candidates.At one time, California did not hold its primary until June.At that time, its large number of delegatesmight have held the key to nomination in a close race.Even California has moved its primary dateback into early spring.Nowadays, most primaries are over by the early part of May.

    • 12:13

      NARRATOR [continued]: So by that time, well before the conventionsof late July or August, the outcome is decided.If it is true that the party nominee is really chosen wellbefore the convention even begins, thenwhat is its purpose?If the convention allows no real deliberation but just

    • 12:36

      NARRATOR [continued]: gratification, couldn't it be eliminated?Some say yes.In recent election years the major networkshave cut coverage, claiming that the convention is nothingmore than one great advertising commercial.Actually, that is one of the four reasons for convention.First, it does attract attention,

    • 12:58

      NARRATOR [continued]: both from the media and the general public.Polls consistently show that public opinionis, at least in the short-run, affected by whathappens at a convention.When things go well, the candidate benefits.When things go badly, as they did in 1968at the Democratic Convention in Chicago,the candidate may never recover from the effect on the public

    • 13:22

      NARRATOR [continued]: of a party in seeming disarray.Both parties invite film and popular music stars.Attention can be focused on political newcomers, as wellas long-time political personalities.Media critics are right enough whenthey say it is one big infomercial-- but perhapsa more important one than many on television every day,

    • 13:45

      NARRATOR [continued]: as with the infomercial, the conventionis a primary fundraising tool for the party.Second, the convention affords the only opportunityfor thousands of party leaders and party regularsto come together to agree on a statement of beliefs.Called the party platform, each part of it is called a plank.

    • 14:06

      ANNOUNCER: While the delegates are voting on minority reportthree, we will proceed with minority report four.

    • 14:14

      GEORGE H. W. BUSH: And the fact is, parties, like people,have tendencies.And we Republicans have believed in and protectedsome very important things.We believe that government has a place, but it also has limits.

    • 14:33

      NARRATOR: Together, the planks make upthe body of what Republicans or Democrats believe--and in general terms, what they hope to accomplish.But platforms are often discounted by the media,and even by voters.But a serious reading of them over a period of yearsmakes clear the traditional positionsof each party on longstanding issues,

    • 14:55

      NARRATOR [continued]: such as the economy, the role of government, foreign policy,defense, business, labor, education, and taxes.In recent years, planks addressing the environment,capital punishment, social security, medical care,and abortion have been subjects for platform consideration.

    • 15:15

      ANNOUNCER: Minority report four on energyefficiency and sustainable environment be adopted.All those in favor, please say aye.

    • 15:25

      CROWD: Aye!

    • 15:28

      ANNOUNCER: All those opposed, please say no.

    • 15:32

      CROWD: No!

    • 15:34

      NARRATOR: Third, the presidential candidateneeds a running mate.The party needs a candidate for Vice President.The party wants one who will both help in the campaignand will work well with the Presidentonce the election is over.That person cannot easily be selected until the choicefor presidential candidate is clear.

    • 15:55

      NARRATOR [continued]: For many years now, the party choice for Presidenthas made his wish known at convention time.This makes it possible to have the official nominationof both persons the same week, and again get public attention.The bandwagon effect created as millions of Americans watchthe two candidates standing together accepting

    • 16:15

      NARRATOR [continued]: the adulation of thousands in the convention hall cannot bediscounted.[APPLAUSE][CROWD CHEERING]

    • 16:54

      NARRATOR [continued]: Finally, what would happen if, near the endof the primary season or even after it was over,the party choice were to die?A situation like this occurred in 1968when candidate Robert Kennedy was shot and killedupon exiting a rally in California the eveningof the primary he had just won.

    • 17:17

      NARRATOR [continued]: In that year, the delegates at the conventionchose Vice President Hubert Humphrey as their candidate.He had not even participated in the primary process.Convention-goers used to plan on abouta week of various kinds of political work and timefor amusement.

    • 17:37

      NARRATOR [continued]: After all, they paid their own way to get and stay there.Only the larger cities are able to play hostto conventions of the size and type these are,and they offer more than just work to the delegates.In recent years, the convention processhas been cut and pruned for the benefit of the media.Much of the work is now either done

    • 17:58

      NARRATOR [continued]: in committees or caucuses ahead of time,and what the viewer sees is the larges general meetingof delegates, usually set up for prime time in the evenings.Here, the party chair hands the gavel to the convention chair.If the convention begins on Monday,that day is now used to feature older political leaders.

    • 18:19

      NARRATOR [continued]: The keynote speech or speeches now come on the second night.It is the purpose of these speechesto set the tone of the convention,to fire up the delegates, and to also unite them for the workahead.And usually, the new party platformis reviewed on this day.Platforms used to cause great debates within the party,

    • 18:40

      NARRATOR [continued]: but again, today most of the conflictis reflected elsewhere, so the public onlysees a united party.On Wednesday, the delegates ratifythe presidential candidate, with each state casting its vote.

    • 18:55


    • 18:60

      ANNOUNCER: We proudly cast our 25 delegate votesfor the next President of the United States, George W. Bush.[CROWD CHEERING]

    • 19:12

      ANNOUNCER: Iowa, 25.George W. Bush.

    • 19:18

      NARRATOR: Each day presents an opportunity for the partyto trot out its best orators.Some of America's best speeches are given at conventions.The last night of the convention arrives,and the vice presidential candidateis selected-- nowadays, often by voice vote.He or she is given a chance to speak.

    • 19:41

      NARRATOR [continued]: Then, the party nominee for President speaks.

    • 19:45

      FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT: I pledge myself to a new dealfor the American people.

    • 19:52

      NARRATOR: The first to do so in personwas Franklin Roosevelt in 1932.And the two stand together, ready for the campaign to come.[CROWD CHEERING]

    • 20:27

      NARRATOR [continued]: Traditionally, the next step, the political campaign,began on Labor Day.In cities, towns, and villages across the nation,political candidates remain a part of the paradesand the speeches on this occasion.But at least since the 1960s, the acceptance speechat the convention has marked the actual beginning

    • 20:48

      NARRATOR [continued]: of the presidential campaign.[CROWD CHANTING, "FOUR MORE YEARS"]

    • 20:55

      GEORGE H. W. BUSH: Thank you, all.[CROWD CHEERING]

    • 21:10

      GEORGE H. W. BUSH: Mr. Chairman-- Mr. Chairman,delegates, fellow citizens, I'm honored by your support,and I accept your nomination for President of the United States.

    • 21:31

      NARRATOR: Of course, the prospective candidateshave been campaigning in the primary statesfor many months-- And by the 2000 election,serious ones had been collecting campaign funds for a yearbefore.This lengthening of the campaign and pre-campaignhas caused the cost of this activity to grow enormouslysince the old convention days.

    • 21:53

      NARRATOR [continued]: Instead of a two-month campaign, today's candidatesmust be seriously planning and spendingbefore the public in general is aware.As The Dallas Morning News reported in January of 2000,even before the primaries had begunGeorge W. Bush had already amassed a political warchest of at least $67 million.

    • 22:16

      NARRATOR [continued]: He raised that much again for the election.But many candidates go deeply into debt,and some are never selected as their party's choice.As late as 1992, former astronaut and Senator JohnGlenn still owed more than $3 millionfrom his abortive attempt back in 1984.

    • 22:38

      NARRATOR [continued]: In 1992, Senator Paul Tsongas, a Democrat hopeful,had had some success.But he withdrew after a year of campaigning,because he owed $400,000.In the aftermath of the Watergate scandal of the 1970s,Congress passed campaign finance reform,which included a plan for partial federal financing

    • 23:01

      NARRATOR [continued]: of presidential campaigns.To ease the effects of the enormous cost of campaigningtoday, candidates can receive matching fundsonce they reach certain established thresholds.Under a tax-paid system, each taxpayercan elect to give $3 of his owed income taxto fund this program.

    • 23:22

      NARRATOR [continued]: From a high of about 30% of taxpayer participationin the system at the beginning, the numbershad dropped to below 20% by the end of the 1990s.The effect of the program seems to havehelped push costs and the need to fund even higher.In fact, during and after the 1996 campaign,

    • 23:43

      NARRATOR [continued]: charges of illegal finance practiceswere made against the Clinton-Gore team,and some collected money was returned.By 2000, both parties addressed the issueof campaign finance reform as part of their campaigns.Seemingly, each time Congress hastried to control campaign finance and costs,

    • 24:04

      NARRATOR [continued]: Yankee ingenuity has found newer and greater sources of funding.Today, most candidates opt out of receiving federal fundsbecause this funding is accompaniedby spending limitations.Congress's recent attempt to limit fundraising by candidatesgave rise to independent organizationsraising funds and buying major ad time to support

    • 24:27

      NARRATOR [continued]: their chosen candidates.These groups, known as 527s, can greatly impact an election.One such example occurred in 2004,when Kerry's war record advantagewas diminished by an ad sponsored by a group calledSwift Boat Veterans for Truth.Legally, these organizations must remain independent

    • 24:48

      NARRATOR [continued]: of any party control.In reality, the independence may be only a facadewhile allowing the political parties to remain alooffrom the negative attacks.As the official campaigns develop,candidates use every method old and newto affect the voter's choice.In some ways, campaigns of today resemble those of the past.

    • 25:10

      NARRATOR [continued]: Food and drink have always been a part of campaigns.Here we see candidates Franklin Roosevelt,Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush participatingin endless dinners and fundraising receptions.These traditions continue from the Lincoln, Jackson, Jeffersonday dinners early in the year right up to the election,

    • 25:31

      NARRATOR [continued]: and some of the most productive financiallyoccur at convention time.The days of smoke-filled rooms when party leaders metto determine who the delegates would nominate are gone,but they have been replaced with reception rooms or diningrooms, and meet-the-candidate gatherings whose guests areof the paying kind.

    • 25:51

      NARRATOR [continued]: This convention-time activity brings in tidy sumsto the party coffers.In the year 2000, it replenished the Bush campaign's war chestjust as it was about to run out of funds.Meeting and greeting the voters generates endlesstalking and handshaking before stump speech or after, or both.

    • 26:15

      NARRATOR [continued]: [MUSIC PLAYING]Presentations are another staple of the traditional campaign.

    • 26:38

      NARRATOR [continued]: Here, candidate President Herbert Hoover,unable to decide what to do with his, tries to put it back.Wearing presentation jackets, hats, and ceremonial garbfrom the group in attendance are all part of a process.Posters to carry or hang up, pamphlets to pass out,rallies to attend-- these have all

    • 27:00

      NARRATOR [continued]: been with us for a long time.But in the mid-20th century, and even morein the last few years, things have changed a great deal.These early shots show Presidentsand presidential candidates ridingin automobiles, something those campaigning before 1900could not do.

    • 27:21

      NARRATOR [continued]: After the Civil War, candidates wereslow to use the rails for campaigning.But eventually, the train became basic.The last campaign to use this as a major campaign toolwas in 1948.That year, candidates Dewey and Trumanwhistle-stopped across America.

    • 27:42

      NARRATOR [continued]: People from towns on those stops trooped downto the railroad station to see and hear their candidates.By 1952, Republican candidate Eisenhowerhad adopted an airplane, which was faster.This airport celebration, followed by a motorcadethrough town, made for great theater.20 years later, Eisenhower's Vice President Richard Nixon

    • 28:03

      NARRATOR [continued]: used the plane extensively in his own campaign for President,as have all candidates since.If a train is boarded these days,it is for nostalgia's sake.In 1992, the Clinton-Gore team made use of the bus caravan,and the tool has been used in each primary and campaignseason since.

    • 28:25

      NARRATOR [continued]: Candidate Eisenhower also began whatwas to become a major campaign toolfor all future presidential campaigns,the use of television.Walt Disney developed this ad for the campaign.This was an early forerunner of the TV campaigncommercial, which was pivotal in at least one later campaign.

    • 28:46

      COMMERCIAL: (SINGING) Ike for President, Ike for President.You like Ike, I like Ike, everybody likes Ike.Hang out the banners, beat the drums.We'll take Ike to Washington.We don't want John or Dean or Harriet.

    • 28:58

      NARRATOR: He also used this powerful new mediumby setting up an election eve special, whichpulled out all the stops.

    • 29:07

      COMMERCIAL: Welcome to one of our many coffeehour with Eisenhower meetings.

    • 29:11

      NARRATOR: Stiff and uncomfortableby today's standards--

    • 29:14

      COMMERCIAL: Here's Mrs. Walker.

    • 29:16

      MRS. WALKER: It's time we go back to thinkingwe're all part of one country.General Eisenhower will stop playing politics with groups.

    • 29:31

      NARRATOR: The program used all of the traditional persuasivetechniques, including glittering generalities--

    • 29:37

      COMMERCIAL: [INAUDIBLE] streets and cheering people,America joyously riding the Eisenhower bandwagon.

    • 29:43

      NARRATOR: --plain folks, bandwagon, and testimonial.Yes, this is Hollywood actor John Wayne himselfwith a testimonial endorsement.A partial list of the leaders in our industrywho are voting tomorrow for the next Presidentof the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower.They are June Allyson, Fred Astaire, Gene Autry.

    • 30:08

      NARRATOR: Eisenhower's election eve programalso included the use of a new candidate's citizens committee.This was a group outside the regular party organization,which supplied money and time, and eventually, votes.This structure after the 1970s wasaugmented by interest- or issue-oriented groups,

    • 30:28

      NARRATOR [continued]: and by 2000 the latter were indirectly supplyinghuge sums for political use.Radio brought campaigns right into people's homes.Television let them see the candidateswithout leaving their chairs.Candidates still travel thousandsof miles on the campaign, but the most useful toolfor candidates in the last half century has been in the home

    • 30:52

      NARRATOR [continued]: rather than on the road, rails, or sky.The newest wrinkle in campaign techniquesis the use of the internet.First introduced on a very limited basisin the campaign of 1992, by primary season 2000it was being used by all of the principal candidatesto raise funds, to publish background material,

    • 31:14

      NARRATOR [continued]: and to post position papers on the issues.For the serious voter, this mediumgave them much more than the 30-second soundbite that television commercials had to offer.Candidates still sweat, but the old intensely hotoutdoor and indoor rallies, once a staple of campaigns,are now staged inside air-conditioned halls or hotel

    • 31:36

      NARRATOR [continued]: reception rooms, with music piped inand television screens for better viewing.Candidates no longer have to fumble with their notes.Teleprompters make eye contact so much easier.And tracking the candidates by the news mediahas changed as well since the late '40s and '50s,as these film clips graphically indicate.

    • 31:57

      NARRATOR [continued]: Today's television camera allows instant communication.In 1960, another breakthrough occurredas we witnessed the melding of the old and the new.Though political debate can be traced backat least to the pre-Civil War Lincoln-Douglas contest,in 1960 the debate became an important television event,

    • 32:20

      NARRATOR [continued]: as Richard Nixon met John Kennedy.Those listening on radio thought Nixon had won,but the view from the camera was devastating to himand he lost the election.So useful were these debate programsthat the Kennedy team put together a series of clips,and another step toward today's sound bite commercial

    • 32:40

      NARRATOR [continued]: was taken.

    • 32:42

      JOHN F. KENNEDY: I think we can do better.I think it shows the difference between the two parties.One party is ready to move in these programs.The other party gives them lip service.

    • 32:50

      COMMERCIAL: Americans want to move ahead with new leadership.Let's elect John F. Kennedy President.

    • 32:58

      NARRATOR: Other techniques-- billboards, letters to voters,newsprint, handouts, movie and TV stars,surrogate speakers, those who appearin place of the candidate-- all still have their place.All will agree that the most effective campaignis pressing the flesh, or meeting the voter face-to-face

    • 33:18

      NARRATOR [continued]: and touching.Handshakes, back slaps, and baby holding and kissingcan be a grueling ordeal for a candidate,and it is clearly not very efficient.Sadly, person-to-person is being replacedby things like one-on-one studio interviews and debates on TV.

    • 33:40

      NARRATOR [continued]: Presidential debates have not occurredin every election since 1960, but theyhave become an important factor each time they were staged.Candidates' handlers spar over number and format these willtake to get the best advantage, but it is often the unplannedoccurrence which hurts a candidate--the look of Nixon in 1960, President Gerald

    • 34:01

      NARRATOR [continued]: Ford's confusion about the Russian-controlled communistgovernments of Eastern Europe--

    • 34:06

      GERALD FORD: I don't believe that the Romanians considerthemselves dominated by the Soviet Union.I don't believe that the Poles consider themselvesdominated by the Soviet Union.Each of those countries is independent, autonomous,it has its own territorial integrity.

    • 34:27

      NARRATOR: --President Bush's uncomfortable watch checkin the '92 debates, and Al Gore's attemptto close the space between candidates, which came offseemingly menacing-- all hurt.On the other hand, third-party candidate Ross Perotgained stature just by being on stage with the main partycandidates.And while candidate Gore looked stiff

    • 34:48

      NARRATOR [continued]: and made up in the debates in 2000,George W. Bush disappointed Democratswhen he did better than all had predicted.In 2004, despite attempts to prevent reaction shotsat the debates, network coverage focusedon Bush's frowns and grimaces.This contrasted with Kerry's demeanorand helped the challenger when the first debate.

    • 35:10

      NARRATOR [continued]: In recent years, advisers, handlers, and spin doctorshave become increasingly importantin attempting to create the right imagefor their candidate.Now all media events are as carefullycontrolled as possible, lest a candidatecommit some fatal blunder.This part of the campaign may have hit its peak in the 2000

    • 35:30

      NARRATOR [continued]: campaign when it seemed that almost weekly, voters werepresented with a new Al Gore, as his handlers triedto find the right image and message for him.This staging, while understandable,gets between the voter and the candidate,making evaluation that much more difficult.Selling a candidate is not selling a car,

    • 35:52

      NARRATOR [continued]: and staged sound bites only providethe public with little pictures of little, oftenirrelevant issues and subjects.Campaign staffs now attempt to define the opposition candidateeven before he or she has had a chance to do so.This has translated into negative campaigningas each side stresses the failures

    • 36:13

      NARRATOR [continued]: of the opponent or an unpopular position taken on an issue.

    • 36:17

      COMMERCIAL: One, two, three, four, five, seven, six, six,eight, nine, nine--

    • 36:38

      COMMERCIAL [continued]: 10, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one.These are the stakes-- to make a worldin which all of God's children can live,

    • 36:58

      COMMERCIAL [continued]: or to go into the dark.We must either love each other or we must die.Vote for President Johnson on November 3.The stakes are too high for you to stay home.

    • 37:16

      COMMERCIAL: What Jimmy Carter did as governor,he'll do as President.His ads say that he will do the same thing as President that hedid as governor of Georgia.Then you should know during his one term as governor,government spending increased by 58%,government employees went up 25%, and the state of Georgia

    • 37:36

      COMMERCIAL [continued]: went 100% deeper into debt.Don't let Jimmy Carter give us more big government.Keep President Ford.

    • 37:44

      NARRATOR: Here are two examples from the 2000 campaign.

    • 37:48

      COMMERCIAL: Now Al Gore is bending the truth again.The press calls Gore's social security attacks nonsense.Governor Bush sets aside $2.4 trillionto strengthen social security and pay all benefits.

    • 37:60

      AL GORE: There has never been a time in this campaignwhen I have said something that I know to be untrue.There's never been a time when I've said something untrue.

    • 38:09

      COMMERCIAL: Really?Texas now ranks 50th in family health care.He's left the minimum wage at $3.35 an hour.Let polluters police themselves.Today, Texas ranks last in air quality.Now Bush promises the same $1 trillion from Social Securityto two different groups.He squanders the surplus on a tax cut

    • 38:31

      COMMERCIAL [continued]: for those making over $300,000.Is he ready to lead America?

    • 38:37

      NARRATOR: And one of the classic commercialswas this against Michael Dukakis in 1988.

    • 38:43

      COMMERCIAL: Bush and Dukakis on crime--Bush supports the death penalty for first degree murderers.Dukakis not only opposes the death penalty;he allowed first degree murderersto have weekend passes from prison.One was Willie Horton, who murdered a boy in a robbery,stabbing him 19 times.Despite a life sentence, Horton received 10 weekend passes

    • 39:03

      COMMERCIAL [continued]: from prison.Horton fled, kidnapped a young couple, stabbing the manand repeatedly raping his girlfriend.Weekend prison passes-- Dukakis on crime.

    • 39:13

      NARRATOR: But negative campaigning is not new.We can trace its roots back at leastto the days of Andrew Jackson in the early 1800s.While many worry about today's campaign techniques, concernedthat we are being treated to false images of the candidates,others reply that you can't make a silk purse outof a sow's ear-- that truth will out,

    • 39:36

      NARRATOR [continued]: and that the grueling process we treat our candidates towill eventually show us the basic person, warts and all.After months, sometimes years, of the process,step four-- election day arrives.

    • 39:57

      NARRATOR [continued]: General elections for Presidents are held every four yearson the Tuesday after the first Monday in Novemberin even-numbered years.Congressional, state, and many local electionsare held at the same time.It's a crisp, sunny November morningin this typical Midwestern state as the voters go to the pollingplaces to vote.

    • 40:18

      NARRATOR [continued]: The election committee has been in place since before 6:00 AM.The local precinct captain or committee personwas there even earlier, putting up signsto give the voters one last reminder of whoor what to vote for or against, and to mark the public buildingas the place to vote.Now, a volunteer passes literature,hoping to influence.

    • 40:40

      NARRATOR [continued]: In this election, the winning candidatesfor governor and senator seem clear.But the polls indicate the race for President is very close.The voter is first checked by party officials calledchallengers, who are there to keep track of the votersto make sure each member of his or her party votes,and that each voter is actually qualified.

    • 41:01

      NARRATOR [continued]: Later in the day, a telephone committeemay get information from the challengerto determine who needs contacting,and perhaps, who needs transportationto the polling place.From the challenge table, the votermoves to the clerk's table.One clerk from each party checks records and has the voters signin in preparation to vote.

    • 41:22

      NARRATOR [continued]: From the clerk's table the voter movesto the judge, who has prepared in advancethe machine or booth with paper ballot or optical touchscreenscanner or punch card system.The original Australian secret paper ballotadopted by the United States in the late 1800sgave way in many states to the machine,because people complained of improper

    • 41:44

      NARRATOR [continued]: marking on paper ballots and stuffing of the ballot box.The new machines of the '30s, '40s, and '50s soonbecame the target of reformers, because as they agedthey tended to break down, sometimes in the middleof the voting day.To fix them, if they could be fixed,they often had to be opened, causing vote tallies

    • 42:04

      NARRATOR [continued]: to be exposed.This and other problems with machinescaused many states to move to a lightweight, easilymobile punch card system.This system became infamous in the 2000 electionwhen Americans learned a new word, "chads."The little punch-outs became the object of attentionwhen it was found that if a unit was not cleaned out,

    • 42:25

      NARRATOR [continued]: it became, like a three-hole punch,harder and harder to make work.What did it mean if a ballot had a chad whichwas punched but still hanging?Would the machine counter-count it?What if it were only dimpled, not punched?The presidential election seemed to hingeon questions like that.Some claimed that the optical scanner was a better method,

    • 42:48

      NARRATOR [continued]: but it was more expensive.After the fact, states quickly movedto study better voting methods.Still, with every improvement, problems have resulted.There are two basic forms of ballot in the United States.One, the party column, or Indiana ballot,allows the voter to vote for all the candidates of the party

    • 43:09

      NARRATOR [continued]: with one motion, if that is what is wanted.The office group, or Massachusetts ballot, groupscandidates by office and requires that the voter selecteach choice individually.Any deviation in these forms seemsto cause serious challenges, particularlyto the uninitiated voter.This butterfly ballot, used in part of Florida

    • 43:31

      NARRATOR [continued]: and in the Chicago area, was challenged in 2000when it was found that many voters had votedfor no one for President, or had voted for two men,or had voted in unexpectedly high numbersfor a third-party candidate thoughtnot to have much support from voters in the area.Whatever the system, those working the pollsin teams of people from each party

    • 43:52

      NARRATOR [continued]: attempt to assure that the secrecy of the ballotis maintained and that as many people as possibleare given the opportunity to vote.And so, having voted for the choice of candidates,our voter may actually think the votehas been cast for the presidential candidaterunning-- not so.

    • 44:18

      NARRATOR [continued]: The general election is misleading,because voters are really voting for electorswho will vote in their place.They're not voting for the President or Vice President.The Constitution directs that each stateshall participate in the election of the President.The Constitution leaves this taskto the states, because so many elected officials are

    • 44:40

      NARRATOR [continued]: state or local in nature.And remember, while the preamble says,"We the people," it was the states whichdecided to enter into the federal union for whichthe Constitution was written.Each state casts the same number of votesas it has members of Congress.Presidential electors are not senators or representatives,

    • 45:00

      NARRATOR [continued]: but rather people picked by their parties for this job.Our votes elects a set of electors, Republicanor Democratic.So in other words, we as voters on that Tuesdayonly indirectly vote for President.In reality, we vote for our choiceof a number of Republican or Democratic electors

    • 45:22

      NARRATOR [continued]: who will then choose the President.In most states, the vote for these electors is statewide.Whichever set of electors gets the most votes-- thatis, a plurality-- is elected.Most might be just one vote, or by thousands.The 2000 election focused light on this procedure,and a number of states considered changing the process

    • 45:45

      NARRATOR [continued]: so that each congressional district would vote separatelyand each would choose an elector, and then twowould be chosen at large or by the whole state--a system which might produce electorsfrom more than one party who would thenparticipate in the election.The dramatic election of 2000 between Al Gore and George W.

    • 46:07

      NARRATOR [continued]: Bush proved once again that the process is state-controlled,and that even though the people have votedand the press and radio and TV have declared a winner,it may not be true at all.The election showed us that a candidatemight get the majority, or at least the mostvotes in the popular election, and still not become President.

    • 46:28

      NARRATOR [continued]: In 2000, the largest number of states and countieswent for Bush but the popular vote went to Gore.The vote by state was so close that the outcome in Floridawas crucial.The polls had not even closed before the media announcedGore the winner.At the same time, charges of voting irregularitiesand wholesale disregard for voters' wishes were rampant.

    • 46:52

      NARRATOR [continued]: The situation was reminiscent of the 1876 Hayes-Tilden election,and the same state, Florida, was involved.In that election the results were disputed.After it was impossible to determine whose set of electorshad received the most votes, the Florida legislaturechose the electors.

    • 47:12

      NARRATOR [continued]: When there were additional challenges,then the next step in the processcalled for Congress to decide.But in that election, Congress passed the buckto a commission, which eventuallyhave one more Republican than Democrat,and Republican Hayes was chosen President.Actually, more than a dozen Presidentshave been elected without a popular majority.

    • 47:34

      NARRATOR [continued]: And even more surprising, even though electorsare selected by us, they are not requiredto vote for the candidate of the party they represent.In fact, in the 2000 election there was a minor campaignby Democrats to get Republican electorsto vote for Democrat Gore, because he had wonthe popular vote of the nation.

    • 47:55

      NARRATOR [continued]: It didn't work, but in other yearselectors have disregarded the voters and their party'sadvice.So you see, when you go to vote, youare really voting for your state's rightto take part in what is known as the electoral college.This group votes for its choice for Presidenton the Monday following the second Wednesday in December.

    • 48:18

      NARRATOR [continued]: The group does not have a national meeting,but instead each state's electors meet, usuallyin the state capital.With the exception of a very few states, those who gatherwill be of one political party.The ballots they will sign will havethe names of their party's candidatesfor President and Vice President.So unless there are vote total challenges

    • 48:40

      NARRATOR [continued]: as there were in Florida, or unless there is a maverickelector, the whole thing is going to be a formalityand takes very little time.The ballots are sealed and sent to the Congress of the UnitedStates, Washington, DC.Winning the office requires a majority voteof those electors when the votes are counted.

    • 49:00

      NARRATOR [continued]: What happens if there is a third-party candidate whopicks up enough votes to deny a principal candidate a majority?Or what if there is a dispute over the vote within a state?Then things get complicated.Serious third-party candidacies were

    • 49:20

      NARRATOR [continued]: run by Theodore Roosevelt in 1912,J. Strom Thurmond in 1948, George Wallace in 1968,and John Anderson in 1980.In 1992, Ross Perot supporters put him on the ballotin all 50 states, and his popular votewas in double digits.In case no candidate gets a majority

    • 49:43

      NARRATOR [continued]: or if the vote of a state is so disputed that the outcome isunclear, the Constitution provides that the United StatesCongress will decide, with the House electingthe President and the Senate the Vice President--essentially, whichever party controls Congress would controlthe outcome of the election.Since Congress was controlled by Republicans in 2000,

    • 50:06

      NARRATOR [continued]: it was logical that the Democrats preferred a solutionprior to that happening.Unlike 1876, when the matter was actually sent to Congress,Democrats in 2000 went to the state courts in the daysafter the general election to ask for help.They wanted thousands of disputed votes counted,and when the state court accepted their argument,

    • 50:27

      NARRATOR [continued]: the Republicans went to the Supreme Court.In a seven to two decision, the courtheld the election process in Floridawas so flawed as to be unconstitutional.Then, by a five to four decision,the court ordered all further action stopped,which in effect gave the election to George W. Bush, whohad initially won the original machine count

    • 50:49

      NARRATOR [continued]: and then the vote of the state legislature.Essentially, both parties had bypassed the electoral processby heading for the courts.This unprecedented action clouds the future,because parties may now want to use the courtto settle matters rather than let the process work itself outin the states and in Congress.This extra-constitutional method left the popular vote winner

    • 51:13

      NARRATOR [continued]: the loser, and the winner was the candidatewith the favorable ruling from the court of last resort,and thus the necessary electoral vote total-- a somewhatclouded victory.For months after, the media conducted unofficial recountsin Florida and head counts in Congress,attempting to validate the election results.

    • 51:34

      NARRATOR [continued]: Fortunately, Americans did not have to await these results.The nation knew the outcome well before Congressmet in January to officially count the electoral ballots.There, the Vice President, who is President of the Senate,presides over the counting.A cause for celebration?Yes, even in the election of 2000.

    • 51:57

      NARRATOR [continued]: The six-step process eventually workedas it does every four years.The primary elections, the convention, the campaign,the general elections, the vote of the electoral college,and the action by congress.The peaceful process under the rule of lawhave all led to this day-- Inauguration Day, January 20,

    • 52:20

      NARRATOR [continued]: the culmination of hopes and dreams of a candidateand a nation.

    • 52:28

      JIMMY CARTER: In this outward and physical ceremony,we attest once again to the inner and spiritual strengthof our nation.

    • 52:40

      NARRATOR: At 10:30, the official process begins.The outgoing President and the newmeet and make their way to the reviewing stand.Others arrive in order of importanceand are seated or stand in anticipation.After music and prayer, the oath is taken at 12 o'clock noon.

    • 53:01

      NARRATOR [continued]: Then, the new President speaks.

    • 53:05

      GEORGE H. W. BUSH: I am honored and humbled to stand herewhere so many of America's leaders have come before me,and so many will follow.

    • 53:15

      NARRATOR: Setting the tone for the new administration.Afterward, the traditional parade.And the balls, lasting late into the night.

    • 53:35

      NARRATOR [continued]: And then, it is over.The election of the President is complete-- one person, aloneat the summit.The new President will need this day of triumph,because he will soon find himselfvery much alone as he accepts the mantle of leadership.But for now, with a nation to lead, the vision is forward.

    • 53:58

      NARRATOR [continued]: Mindful of where we have been, weare all anxious to get where we are going.

Electing the President: Six Steps to the Summit - 2012

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Using archival footage and images, this documentary explains the six main steps in the U.S. presidential election. Highlights include political fundraising, gaffes, controversies, and contested results.

Electing the President: Six Steps to the Summit - 2012

Using archival footage and images, this documentary explains the six main steps in the U.S. presidential election. Highlights include political fundraising, gaffes, controversies, and contested results.

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