The Name is Goldwater …. Barry Goldwater

*Post written by James Wethington, library assistant of the University Archives and Special Collections.

In politics, some candidates win their respective office and their opponents face the ugly face of defeat. Some could argue when a presidential nominee loses, they become a forgotten name among a long list of individuals who’ve tried to win the prestigious title of President of the United States. Over the next few weeks, we’re discussing those who ran for President but lost in the general election.

Picture it! The United States, 1964. Democratic nominee and incumbent, Lyndon B. Johnson (known as LBJ) of Texas, defeats Republican nominee, Barry Goldwater of Arizona. LBJ won 486 electoral votes compared to Goldwater’s 52 electoral votes. LBJ won the popular vote by more than 15 million votes. But, how to Barry Goldwater get to the pinnacle of American politics? Let’s take a scroll down memory lane.


Goldwater-Miller campaign button, 1964:

Goldwater was born on January 1, 1909 in Phoenix, Arizona. His family had a local department store, Goldwater’s and he was the president from 1937 to 1953. He agreed with society integration in businesses and the National Guard; moreover, he personally believed whites and African-Americans should be treated equally. On the other hand, he seemed to present it differently in politics. He disagreed with the federal government getting involved with issues of civil rights. When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was voted on, Goldwater voted against the bill.

His first taste of politics was when he was elected as a city councilman in Phoenix in 1949. In 1952, he was elected to serve as a Senator for Arizona and was reelected in 1958. During this time, Goldwater called for a stricter position with the Soviet Union by opposed negotiations on arms-control and accused Democrats of trying to make the United States in socialist nation.

As the 1964 Republican nomination was up for grabs, Goldwater’s main opponent was Nelson Rockefeller. Their main opposing views were on civil rights: Rockefeller was for the Civil Rights Act and Goldwater opposed it. Goldwater’s platform appealed to Republicans in the United States; moreover, by the time the Republican National Convention started, Goldwater won the nomination. He selected New York representative, William Miller, to be his vice-president.

LBJ and Goldwater debated on civil rights, foreign policies in Vietnam, and use of nuclear weaponry. Goldwater believed the United States should use atomic bombs in Vietnam. LBJ responded back with his “Daisy” ad, showing a young girl in a field of flowers counting down with the audience hearing a nuclear countdown and an explosion. The response was overwhelming and caused many voters to view Goldwater as an extreme conservative to become President of the United States.

In the end, LBJ defeated Goldwater tremendously. Goldwater only carried six states: Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. He would return to the United States. In 1968, Goldwater returned to the US Senate, representing Arizona, until his retirement in 1987. Barry Goldwater passed away on May 29, 1998, in Paradise Valley, Arizona, at the age of 89.


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