Watergate Amendment Vol 2 by John J. Fitzgerald - HTML preview
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Jude was enjoying his new lifestyle. Although he didn’t think of himself as being pretentious, he liked to impress people who had known him in what he sometimes called his “white sock” days in college and before. Supposedly, his brokerage concern had connections to a large British investment firm. Allegedly he monitored the market and noted promising developments before they became public knowledge. And, surprisingly enough, tips did come his way - cryptic phone messages and unsigned mail. The latter generally delivered by courier. These tips he dutifully relayed to the London office and what happened to them thereafter he neither knew nor cared. He never was particularly interested in corporate espionage. He did purchase notable shares of 144 stocks in various companies. This would give him a noticeable paper trail...useful to demonstrate a flow of income, and in keeping clean with the Security & Exchange Commission. For outward appearance, all he had to do was manage the New York office and collect gigantic commissions.
His image was footloose and fancy-free. Everything seemed to be going well with nobody visibly looking over his shoulder. His decisions were his alone, and he had a large bank account with which to play.
He was relaxing at his desk, reading the Wall Street Journal, which he was coming to find more interesting than he’d expected, when his secretary buzzed to inform him he had a personal call. She said, “The caller wouldn’t identify himself. He just said it was personal.”
Running through a mental list of possibilities, Jude picked up the phone. “This is Jude Thaddeus.”
“Hello, Mr. Thaddeus,” responded a voice he thought he recognized as Chandler, Rockefeller’s button-down bagman. “I suppose you’ve been expecting to hear from me?”
“Maybe,” said Jude cautiously. “Tell me why I should be expecting a call.”
“Not on a phone line, we’ll talk in private. I’ll be at the Mayflower in Washington tomorrow night. I trust you will be able make a trip down. We’ll visit then. You’ll find a room reserved in your name. Expect to stay three days. As soon as you’ve checked in, come to room one two four. Travel light. There's no need to commit any of our projects to writing. Any questions?”
Jude was about to ask some questions, but calmly said, “I’ll be there tomorrow night.” Jude then heard a click as the phone went dead.
Jude decided to ride the Amtrak high-speed rails to Washington. He liked the first-class cabin and feeling of travel, riding in a train. From the window he could see the country at work, congested cities, and the farmland in-between. All the way to Washington he was nervous, checking his watch every few minutes. He was afraid that the Governor had done an audit of all the money Jude had spent on his firm, which, after all was only a front, with only a vague connection to the project. In his mind he reviewed all the arguments of why a carved rosewood desk and a dozen Early American antique matching chairs were a basic necessity of a creditable brokerage office along with artwork, and highly paid personnel. But it does take money to ‘make friends and influence people.’
As he entered the hotel lobby, he noticed how crowded it was. He had been here before, but this time it was during the election season. As soon as he mentioned his name he was whisked to his room with the head bellman. It was a large, expensive suite. He felt he was still in good standing. Jude tipped the bellman a $20, looked around for a few moments, and then went directly to room 124. Jude knocked on the door twice, softly.
The door opened quickly. Chandler stood in the doorway, a big smile on his face. He was dressed casually in his long sleeved white shirt, opened at the top, with the sleeves rolled up halfway. He had a drink in one hand and extended the other to shake hands with Jude.
“Jude, it’s good to see you again,” Chandler said in a somewhat loud voice, another indication of his having had a few drinks already. “Come in. I’ve wanted to talk to you for some time. How was your trip?”
Jude walked in rather anxiously, and said, “The train ride was quite enjoyable.” In his heart, he was concerned about this meeting.
“Good. Would you like a drink, to settle you down?” Chandler asked.
“I’ll have what you’re drinking,” Jude said quickly.
“Scotch it is,” Chandler said as he walked to the bar. “I’ll freshen mine while I am here.” They both sat at the bar. Setting down the glasses, Chandler came directly to business. “Jude, it’s time for a progress report. There’ll be nothing in writing - not now, not ever. We’ll just keep it verbal, it’s safer that way. The Governor has charged me to look after his interests and this plan. Now...can you tell me what you have accomplished, beyond some lavish interior decorating and interesting business relationships?”
Jude began one of his prepared defenses of the rosewood desk, but to his surprise and relief, Chandler waved him to silence, remarking, “That’s of no interest to us. I meant that only as a pleasantry. The Governor has authorized you with Zebra rating and number - virtually unlimited credit, and access to a world of connections.” He paused for a moment and then continued. “There’s no question of itemizing every piddling expense. We have complete trust in you. I assumed you understood that.”
“I appreciate the governor’s confidence,” Jude said, and took a healthy gulp of his drink.
“The governor’s opinion is that you couldn’t steal enough to make you happy. Your profile strongly indicates that you’re a task-oriented person. We believe you are quite intent in achieving this goal. That’s what makes you tick. I am merely here to find what’s been accomplished so far, and if we can help in any way.”
“Well, we’re on schedule,” Jude said confidently. “I have the most viable of the presidential candidates lined up. I have a trunk line directly into his innermost circle. I mean close...right to his thoughts and actions. More importantly, I’ve initiated the process of a Constitutional amendment necessary to accomplish our objective. This amendment has the full and active support of the incumbent President. And he is pushing it hard.”
“Who is your candidate?” Chandler asked as he picked up his drink.
“The former Vice President of the United States, Richard Nixon,” Jude said, the boast in his voice was implicit.
Chandler looked startled, and Jude smiled a little to himself. Chandler then took a gulp of his drink, and exclaimed, “My God, why did you choose him? He couldn’t get elected when he ran the last time, and that’s with Eisenhower’s endorsement. Then he made a fool of himself when he ran for governor, and couldn’t even get elected in his home state.”
“True enough,” agreed Jude quite comfortably. “But that presidential election was the closest in history. Many of those who voted for him that time will vote for him again. And this time he won’t be running against Jack Kennedy. But what’s more important is that, to get elected, he’ll need us. I have chosen him because we can control him. He will want to get elected, but the only way he can is with our help. We can dictate terms - in particular, which people will be on his staff. And I’ll manipulate that staff to do what we want done. So he’s our man. As I have mentioned earlier, I have someone in place very close to him. The rest will come, in time.” He looked to Chandler, who only nodded for him to continue, his expression neutral.
Jude went on. “The key to the plan is the Constitutional amendment. As I said, Johnson has taken it as a personal objective. He’s lining up support for this amendment on a bipartisan basis, treating it as a popular measure to reestablish his influence with Congress. And that’s been strained lately.”
“The war or the Great Society?” asked Chandler with a sneer.
“Probably both, and more,” Jude said. Then added, “I do expect the amendment to be formally proposed before the end of the year without much hoopla or opposition.”
Chandler was silent for a moment, looking off toward a wall as if formulating what he’d be reporting to Rockefeller. At length he said, “What’s the next move?”
“To divide the Democratic Party after the next presidential election. Nobody can beat Johnson this election. He will use the martyred Kennedy for all it’s worth. We will use the time to our advantage.”
Jude paused for a moment. “You realize it’s going to take a decent amount of time to run the amendment through the necessary state legislators before it can be enacted into law. I mean two-thirds of the states, 34 in all, must approve the amendment. The trick is to keep it moving, but under the political radarscope. It can’t be done over a weekend, but I am confident we will get it through in the prescribed time.”
Jude took another sip of his drink, then said, “In the meantime, Johnson will finish out this term and be re-elected. He’ll have for his running mate who he believes to be an unbeatable vice president to step into the office when he retires. While we’re waiting for the amendment to pass, I’ll start the necessary moves to produce a third party formed from a branch of the Democratic Party in the south, thus ensuring the Republican carrying the north. The end result will be our candidate elected president.”
“Nixon,” commented Chandler.
“Nixon it is,” agreed Jude.
“Interesting,” remarked Chandler neutrally, but didn’t put forward any further objections to Nixon. “We have certain contacts among the southern Democrats, as you no doubt know. I can arrange their service.”
“We need powerful, amenable people with well-placed influence,” replied Jude coolly. “And we need Nixon’s running mate. And this running mate must be a politician we can control, someone when we say step aside, he will step aside smartly.”
“We have a stable full of such candidates that would fit the bill.” Chandler said thoughtfully. He then continued as if thinking aloud saying shrewdly, “Standard Oil has a lot of refineries and other interests in Maryland. Oh Yes, I have a very good candidate in mind... And we’ve done business with him already.”
“Now Jude, it’s very important that any contact we have should be indirect. The governor wants no direct involvement. If you need me for anything, call your Zebra number, give the month and day of your call, and specify Code C. I’ll be in touch within hours.”
The Zebra system was proving invaluable...for more than just money. Jude had only needed to specify Nixon should be offered a job with world travel in some appropriate organization. Within a week, Nixon had been made Public Relations Manager with Pepsi Cola. Zebra had also given him access to William Tallsand.
He was now confident enough to ask,
“Why three days?”
Chandler blinked, then made the connection. “Very simple, really. I’ll be leaving early tomorrow morning. I prefer not to have our stays here visibly coincide. I’d suggest you spend some time sightseeing. Enjoy the city. Get a feel for the layout. Visit some investors; meet some colleagues. You may want to backslap a few politicians for practice. It could be a useful pretext, later.”
“Very good suggestions. I’ll make use of the time.” He then looked at Chandler. “Is there anything you would like to know, or that I should know?”
“No, Jude. This meeting is complete.” Then with a little laughter in his voice, he added, “Just make us proud, boy.”
Jude smiled. He was beginning to like Chandler.
Jude’s prediction proved accurate. Lyndon Johnson ran for a term of his own and carried with him the most powerful Democratic Senator, Hubert Humphrey, as Vice President. Humphrey, the happy warrior, was a favored potential presidential candidate in his own right. Politicians on both sides of the political aisle and the American people seemed to like Humphrey. If LBJ chose not to run in the subsequent election, Humphrey certainly could control the party and win the nomination. It was time for Jude to put his "southern strategy" into motion.
Jude and John Chandler were traveling on one of the Governor’s private jets for a meeting with the newly elected Governor of Arkansas. For the first time in ninety-four years a republican would be the occupant of the Governor’s mansion in Little Rock. To many in the south the new Governor might be considered a ‘carpetbagger.’ He was born and raised in New York, a member of wealthy northern family. A Yale man and his brother was also a Governor.
The newly elected Governor of Arkansas was Winthrop Rockefeller the younger brother of Nelson. As a conservative southern leader he was considered the most powerful politician south of the Mason-Dixon Line. It was going to be a tough sale to get this new leader of the fledging Republican Party to carry out such an audacious move. To convince the Governor of Alabama, George Wallace, to betray his political base, the Democratic Party. And then convince Wallace to run for the Presidency, as an independent candidate. If anyone could do it, Winthrop Rockefeller could. He was a nonconformist and rebellious by nature, tough and smooth.
Jude knew the family bonds of the Rockefellers were close, but Winthrop, was his own man. He was the tallest member of the Rockefeller family, towering six feet three inches with a husky two hundred pound frame. In his youth he dropped out of college and joined the Army even before the United States entered the Second World War.
“How soon do we land?’ Jude asked staring out the small window.
“We should be landing in a few minutes.” John paused for a minute. Then he added as if thinking out loud. “We’ll be landing at our new Mena Airport. We just spent a ton of money putting in concrete runways and instrument landing systems.”
“You built a airport just for the convenience of Winthrop?” Jude asked.
“We don’t spend that kind of money for convenience Jude. The Mena airport project is a sound financial investment and we have plans for it.” Chandler said as he started to stare out the window. Then added softly, “Although it was chosen because it is close to Petit Jean Mountain. That’s where Winthrop bought thousands of acres of good grassing land and built ‘Winrock Farms’. He takes pride putting the “WR” brand on some of the best cattle in the world, his famous pure-bred Santa Gertrudis.”
John Chandler turned slowly glancing over toward Jude asking slowly “So tell me Jude, how are things going so far,” As if he wanted to change the subject.
“Well, to tell you the truth, we’re at a very precarious spot. What we do next is a very important move. This meeting is critical for our plan to run smoothly. It’s like moving the queen for the first time on the chessboard. The rest of the strategy and movements will be determined by what we can accomplish here.” Jude said thoughtfully.
“Jude you surprise me. I was under the impression you had a guaranteed plan. Every move laid out well in advance, every detail weighed, measured and dissected.” Chandler paused for a moment, he then took on a serious tone adding, looking directly at Jude for a response. “You’re spending a lot of money. If you have any doubts, now’s the time to let me know?”
“Let me tell you John. I don’t have any doubts. I have the entire sequence of events laid out perfectly in my mind. You know I can’t put anything in writing so I keep it all in my head. Just like in chess, every conceivable move is considered and countered with three alternatives for each. No one else knows how these isolated moves and events will lead. I know the finial objective, or as I prefer to call it, check mate. No one can know what I’m doing and how I’m doing it. But I’ll fill you in on a few points. On this trip we’re going to be making a big move; it’ll be a powerful and delicate maneuver so it must be well executed.
Jude paused for a moment then added, “If I looked concerned I am. Look what I have to accomplish here. I have to bribe one of the wealthiest men in the world and now the most influential republican in the south to do something against his nature. Which is to convince the most powerful politician in the South to leave the Democratic political machine forming a new independent Party to run for White House? These are powerful men, there’re not going to go do something of this magnitude on a suggestion. But they must be convinced to do it. The entire strategy is to get Nixon elected, and he can’t get elected in a two man race of him and Humphrey. So we are here to find us a third candidate to pull votes from the Democrats. If we can pull this maneuver off, I am confident the rest of the plan will be just moving players around the chessboard. And that’s what I am good at.”
“Very interesting Jude.” Chandler said as he sipped his coffee. “You know, I’ve worked for the Rockefeller family for a long time. I’m a very loyal and trusted member of the inter-circle. I’ve been involved in a lot of deals throughout the years. I’ve made a lot of money using my talents and skills. Met all kinds of charlatan schemers and hustlers, and a couple of good solid business people. But you’re the first one I’ve ever met that’s making his mark in life as an anonymous chess player.”
“Well, I haven’t made my mark as yet. So to set the game in motion I’ll need the help of Winthrop Rockefeller. Can you fill me in a little more about this black sheep of the family? Any hints that might help in dealing with him.” Jude asked warmly like a freshman in college seeking advice from his guidance Counseler.
“Hmmm,” Chandler said while thinking of what to say. “Winthrop Rockefeller, Nelson calls him big Rock from Little Rock. He’s a real gregarious character, out-going, fun loving type, likes people, and gets along with almost everyone. He’s a real personable guy and knows what he wants. In public he’s very shy and clumsy, a terrible stump campaigner. He doesn’t travel with an entourage; usually he has only one or two people around him. But he is independent in every sense of the word. As a young kid, he dropped out of Yale and worked in the oil fields as a roustabout. He drinks a lot even though Arkansas is a dry state. He once told me the bootleggers keep the state dry. They get their customers to go out and vote against changing the liquor laws. He smokes three packs of cigarettes a day. With all that smoking his teeth are in very poor shape, in fact they are yellow. Not like the signature smile of Nelson.”
Chandler took a cigarette out of the pack on the table. After lighting it up, he starred at the smoke he was exhaling. “You know he was quite a war hero, Purple Heart Bronze Star with clusters. He joined the army as a private and worked his way up through the ranks. At the end of the Second World War he was a full colonel. After the War he went back to New York, tried for a while, but just didn’t fit in. He had a close friend he met in the Army by the name of Frank Newell. Frank was from Arkansas always boasting about how beautiful it was. One day Winthrop went down to visit him. Fell in love with Arkansas. Bought a big ranch and moved in. Made his home there. Some locals call him a hillbilly billionaire. Although he is mild mannered, he’s a real determined fighter. He got elected governor, with only eleven percent of the voters considered republican. He’s respected and well liked. When Martin Luther King was assassinated, he stood on the Capitol steps arm in arm with mourners singing. "We Shall Overcome" He wants the south to change, and he’s doing whatever he can to bring that about.”
“I trust he gets along well with Nelson,” Jude asked.
Chandler thought for a moment. Then replied, “Winthrop didn’t fit in the mold of the New York City Rockefellers. Even as a child he seemed always to be the odd man out. But he always respected the family and Nelson in peculiar. I believe he’ll do whatever is reasonable for the family and Nelson. Bear in mind Jude, that the Rockefellers through the Foundation and other means have pumped a lot of money into the economy of Arkansas, not counting all the money we spent on his last election. It cost plenty. So I believe we’ll have the attention of the newly elected Governor.”
Chandler took a deep draw on his cigarette, and then added “Jude I’m sure you will be able to get Winthrop on board, but it will cost you plenty. He is a Rockefeller. Anything he does requires a compensation package, usually quite expensive.”
The engines of the Gulf Stream II whined as the luxury jet touched down then rolled to a smooth stop at the far end of the runway. As the door opened the two passengers slowly stepped down a short stair well. Standing alone off to the side of the private hanger was a tall man dressed casually in a beige slacks and western style jacket wearing cowboy boots and a big Stetson ten-gallon hat. Jude could tell in an instant it was Winthrop Rockefeller. He looked as he had been described waving his hand in a welcoming motion, a broad smile highlighting his tarnished yellow teeth.
“Over here John”, Winthrop was yelling, making sure he was noticed as if he were the head of a delegation.
The exchange of warm greetings between John Chandler and Winthrop seemed to lighten the atmosphere. Jude was pleased with his introduction to the Governor of Arkansas. Winthrop extended his large hand, and peering into Jude’s eyes said loudly, “Welcome to God’s country, young feller. I know you’re going to enjoy your visit here.”
“Thank you Governor It’s a distinct pleasure to meet you Sir. And I appreciate you taking the time from your busy schedule to see us.” Jude said showing deference toward his host.
“Thank you Jude. I may be a Governor, but when John Chandler says he’s coming down for a talk, well, I make time to see him.” Winthrop said with a fresh smile. “I even had my new vehicle all set up for a private ride to the ranch.
“What’s that Governor?” Chandler asked as they walked toward the odd looking motor vehicle.
“Oh you mean my ‘Texas Cadillac’. That’s my new Chevy Suburban over there.” Winthrop pointed to a sparkling shinny large size black four door sport utility vehicle. It was an impressive looking automobile, dark tinted windows, large off road tires with chrome rims. Even the suspension system set the vehicle apart. The hood ornament was a sterling silver sculptured bull. At a glance one could tell it was a custom built vehicle.
Winthrop jumped into the driver’s seat grabbing the wheel with both hands as he made himself comfortable. “I just picked up my new toy last week. I thought it would fun to use it and drive up to the ranch, just the three of us. That way we can talk in private without being interrupted. And I know John Chandler well enough to know that most of his talking is very private.”
“We do have some interesting subjects to discuss with you Governor. And a ride through the country is just fine with me.” Chandler said as they pulled out of the parking lot.
“I couldn’t ask for better accommodations, this is some truck. Was this car made just for you Governor?” Jude asked.
“Yes it was Jude. It has a four hundred fifty-horse power engine. The windows are bullet proof and the body is skinned over armor plating. The tires can do sixty miles an hour completely deflated. It’s designed to float if we end up in a river or lake. It has lot extras. Not counting the eight track stereo system, the four captain’s chairs. And most important my custom built-in bars. I prefer the one up here next to me. But there’s a bar in the back seat for your pleasure Jude.” Winthrop said as he had one hand on the wheel and with the other pulled out the cigarette lighter from the dashboard. As he was lighting his latest cigarette he yelled out, “In those bars, there’s beer or whatever you want to drink. John, would you get me a ‘Rolling Rock’. That’s the little green bottle of beer.”
Chandler lifted the top of the console made into a front bar between the front seats, taking out a bottle of green beer, opened it, and handed it to Winthrop.
Jude sitting in the back rummaged through the rear bar looking for something to drink. He thought for a moment. Saying to himself, while in Rome, do as the Romans do. So he opened a beer and took a small sip. Then he said cautiously. ”I’m glad this vehicle is secure. Because what we’ll be talking about is very important and must be kept completely secret.”
Winthrop seemed a little taken back. He turned over at Chandler saying “I’m surprised, John, you usually do the talking.”
“Jude is working directly for Nelson. But he reports directly to me Governor. This project is very important to your brother.” Chandler paused for a moment letting the message sink in. “I’m assisting wherever I can. Jude’s been given the authority to make sure this project works. So I’ll let him do his own talking.”
“Well Jude, we’ve got about an hour’s drive before we get to Petit Jean Mountain. So why don’t you tell me all about what my dear brother wants?” Winthrop paused for a moment then added, “For someone who has everything, he sometimes comes up with the damnedest requests. I should have known he wanted something for the help he has given us down here. So tell me young man what does the powerful Governor of New York want from me. He’s never been shy about asking for anything himself. So why did he chose you to do the asking?”
Jude cleared his throat and speaking clearly said, “To be quite frank with you Governor, he is asking you to intercede on a very sensitive and discrete mission. He wants you to convince Alabama’s Governor George Wallace to run in the next Presidential campaign as a third party candidate.”
“When I said the damnedest requests, that was like saying the great Mississippi is a little stream.” Winthrop was clearly shocked. He understood that if Nelson Rockefeller wanted this to happen, it probably would.
“How in the hell am I, as a newly elected governor, a Republican to boot, going to convince the strongest politician in the South to desert his party and go out tilting at windmills?” Winthrop started to shake his head, as he grew more upset. As he continued, his voice rose to a higher level. “George Wallace is the embodiment of the Democratic Party. And that Party rules the South with every political job and office holder from the Governor’s Mansion to local dogcatcher. George Wallace is more than a governor, he is the pinnacle of powering the South.”
“I agree with you, Governor. George Wallace is the most powerful politician in the South. He’s already used his high office to run for president. In ‘64 he did quite well in the Democratic primaries in Wisconsin and Indiana where he got over thirty percent of the votes and almost forty-five percent in Maryland. He would have done a lot better if LBJ hadn’t put the screws to him,” Jude said in a confident voice.
“You said it Jude. He ran in the Democratic primaries. That’s where his power is. I can’t see him walking away from his party,” Rockefeller said scornfully.
“I’ve studied George Wallace. I know what makes him tick.” Jude responded quickly. “He’s a fighter. In his younger days he was a Golden Gloves Boxing Champ. And In the political ring he’s a fighter as well. Remember he stood alone in the doorway at the University of Alabama facing down the power of the United States Government. He likes the image of the little guy fighting against big government. He is well aware that it was his own northern controlled Democratic party that screwed him in 64.”
Jude paused as if getting his second wind. “You’re right about one thing Governor. Wallace is no Don Quixote from La Mancha. He won’t go out and do battle with a windmill. But he will fight for his own beliefs and his own best interest. And if he believes he can muster real financial and political support, I’m sure Governor George Wallace will play the role as the little guy taking on the power of black robes of the liberal courts and what he calls the duplicate interests of both the Democratic and Republican Parties.”
Winthrop took a large swig of his beer as he kept one hand on the wheel and both eyes on the road ahead. He cocked his head and in a loud voice said, “Now who am I suppose to be, Sancho the servant trying to convince Don Quixote, or Wallace to ditch his Party with all its power and influence and run for Presidency as an independent. Come to think of it, battling with windmills makes more sense.”
Jude was ready with a quick response. “Governor you’re in the mists of changing the south. You’re the first Republican Governor to be elected in the Deep South since the civil war. It wasn’t a fluke. You’re the harbinger of things to come. But look at how much it cost, even the Rockefellers can’t afford to buy all the states. We need a different strategy for the other states. We both know down here many people are still fighting the civil war. There’s no way they will ever vote Republican. But if a third party can be introduced, with the right financial and organizational backing we could form a new political force. George Wallace has a large powerful following. He just might be the fighter we need to help put an end to the democrat one party system.”
“Why is my dear brother Nelson so interested in eliminating the Democrat Party in the South?” Winthrop asked.
“He’s not necessarily trying to eliminate the Democrat Party. But it is our desire to have George Wallace run as an independent candidate for the Presidency. And that may in turn create the possibility for a strong third party to emerge,” Jude said with a cool voice.
“So, Nelson sent you and Chandler down here to help develop a new political landscape.” Winthrop paused for a moment, then with a chuckle in his voice continued. “Why is there a little voice in the back of my head telling me there’s something in this deal for Nelson?”
Winthrop again paused, and slowly turned toward Jude. “So tell me Jude, why does the Republican governor of New York want the Democrat governor of Alabama to run as an independent?”
“I can give two answers,” Jude said slowly. “The first being for practical and obvious reasons. States rights. Knocking down the good old boy system that has plagued the South. Eliminating the one party system. A new party would reveal a new independent South with all the opportunities and economic benefits. And I’m sure we can come up with a few other good reasons to support Governor Wallace. But the second answer to your question and the real reason is, because Nelson wants this done. He has his own political objective. We believe there’s only one person that can convince George Wallace to run. And that’s you, governor. And your brother is requesting your help in this matter. You’re family, and I might add he expects your support.”
“He wants my support, what good is that? May I remind you all that I am the only elected Republican governor in the South? At the last governors’ conference, I was as welcome as a skunk at a lawn social. These politicians down here treat me like a Baptist minister at the Vatican. I have almost no political influence outside of Arkansas, not to mention, that I have to concentrate on doing my job and getting re-elected myself,” Winthrop said as he seemed to be thinking things out. His voice lowered as he began to mumble, “I will do what I can, but I just can’t see how we can possibly pull this thing off.”
“That’s where we come in, Governor,” Jude said as if he were waiting for the cue. “We can build your image as the new renaissance leader of the South. We are going to have a powerful public relations campaign highlighting positive changes taking place in this developing southern economic heaven. I’ve already arranged to have your picture on the cover of ‘Time Magazine’, along with a well-written article praising all of the wonderful things you are doing for the great state of Arkansas. As a result of this, and a few other behind-the-scenes maneuvers, you’re the next chairman of the Southern Governors’ Association. With all this positive coverage you will be a shoe in for re-election and the new darling of Southern politics.”
“Sounds like Brother Nelson’s making me a deal I can’t refuse,” Winthrop said without conviction.
“I would rather say your brother is seeking your assistance in this delicate matter and he is willing to make it worth your while,” Jude said. After taking a swig from his bottle, Jude continued. “In addition to what we already are committed to, Nelson has agreed to finance the construction of that model school you wanted in Morilton. He also has agreed to finance the fine arts center in Little Rock, and of course the Rockefeller Foundation will increase scholarship funding in Arkansas and Alabama. So you can see, Governor, the compensation package is well worth the effort.”
“All right, I’m on board. Now how am I going to convince George Wallace to run for president?” The Governor said looking over at Chandler. “John, will you make me a vodka and tonic with a squeeze of lime, if you please.”
“First of all, Governor, you won’t have to convince George Wallace to run for president. He’s already intoxicated on the wine of presidential ambition. All you need to do is show him the advantages of running as an independent candidate,” Jude said in a voice of growing strength.
“What advantages?” Winthrop’s voice was elevated and a little surly. The booze was having some effect on his speech.
“He’ll have advantages that no other candidate will have in the next election. The unofficial support of the Rockefeller organization for one, which in itself will have a monumental effect. He’ll have the financial support other candidates only dream of. We will strongly help finance his campaign and he’ll have behind the curtain support from the governor of New York, which has the power of an earthquake.”
“You talk a good game, Jude, and I might even believe you myself. When we get to the ranch we’re going to have to make a phone call to Governor Wallace,” Winthrop said while sipping his vodka tonic with one hand as he steadily drove through the rolling countryside. “I’ve known George for quite a while. We had one hell of a time at the sixty-two Sugar Bowl. But those damn Rebels of Alabama beat our Razor Backs by a touchdown. At least I think they beat us. Anyway, it was a hell of a party afterward. I was so upset at that game I tried to recruit Bear Bryant to coach the University of Arkansas. You know, he was born in Arkansas in a little place called Moro Bottom. We offered him the moon to get him back, but he turned us down flat. Just goes to show yah money can’t buy everybody,” Winthrop said as he waited for a response.
Jude said nothing.
“How much of a drive do we have?” John Chandler asked.
“We should be at Winrock in a little while. When we get there I want to show you boys the pride of the South, our herd of purebred Santa Gertrudis cattle. Their color is quite distinctive, a white face with a reddish cherry hide. A nice docile animal, specialty bred with deep muscular form that produces the highest quality of beef. Yes sir, the line dates way back to the King Ranch of Texas. We’re now building up our herd and soon we’ll have the best beef cattle in the world. Yep, when we Rockefellers do something we do it with world class,” Winthrop said with reflective pride.
“How big is your ranch, Governor?” Jude asked.
“Winrock Farms are almost thirty-five thousand acres of the prettiest land in America. But it’s rather small in comparison with the ranches Nelson owns in South America. He has a few ranches that cover over a million acres. For some reason he likes life and some of the women south of the equator.”
The trio drove up the private driveway to the main home nestled in the base of the rolling hills. The design of the mansion was simple but elegant. Four large white pillars held up the sizeable porch roof that ran the full length of the front of the mansion. As the vehicle stopped, out ran a butler to open the driver’s door. A short conversation took place.
Governor Rockefeller started escorting Jude and Chandler up the sidewalk toward the front entrance. “Well boys, let’s take a walk down to my private office. We’ll have a drink and I’ll make a call to my good friend, the governor of Alabama.”
In a few short minutes the three were sitting in the study, a very large brightly colored open room with two bars. One very long well-stocked bar was off to the side of the entrance, and the second bar was at the far end of the room near the exit door to the patio. Winthrop sat in a large-winged chair; Jude and Chandler sat on the large couch opposite the glass coffee table. All had fresh drinks in hand.
“Governor Wallace, thank you for taking this call on such short notice. I appreciate it,” Winthrop said with a newly acquired southern drawl. “I have you on a squawk box because I’d like to introduce you to a few Yankees that came down here for a visit.”
The speakerphone came to life. “I’m always happy to meet some damn Yankees. As long as they’re not wearing black robes. It’s those northern judges I don’t cotton to. You boys aren’t judges now, are you?” George Wallace said in a whimsical joking voice.
Both Jude and Chandler answered in unison, “No, we’re not judges, Governor.”
“I can assure you George, John Chandler and Jude Thaddeus are anything but judges,” Winthrop said jokingly. “They both work for my brother Nelson. And they’re down here on some political business and they would like to bounce some ideas off you.” Winthrop’s voice became more serious.
“Good afternoon, Governor Wallace,” Jude said leaning toward the phone as if he were closer to it he would sound better. “My name is Jude Thaddeus and it’s a pleasure to speak with you, sir. I’m doing some political consulting projects for the governor of New York, Nelson Rockefeller. You may not know it, but he’s a big fan of yours.”
“Why thank you, Mr. Thaddeus. It warms my heart to know I’m liked in high places. Now, is that the reason you all called?” Wallace spoke in a light sarcastic tone.
“No, Governor, the reason we called you is because we know you have a strong following not only in the South, but across the country as well. We noticed how strong you did in the democratic primaries in sixty-four. In northern states you did exceptionally well receiving almost forty-five percent of the votes in one state. You could have done much better if President Johnson hadn’t put the screws to you.”
“No argument from me so far, Mr. Thaddeus.” There was a silent pause on the speakerphone and then it came alive again. “Now, are you looking to offer me your services as a political consultant? If so, I can tell you right up front. Down South here, we may be proud, but we sure ain’t rich. And we sure ain’t in the same financial league as the Rockefellers. No offense Winthrop.”
“No offense taken, George,” Winthrop said as he toasted his vodka and tonic.
“Governor, I’m not offering my services directly, but I’m working with a group of influential people that share many of the viewpoints and values you stand for. There are a lot of Americans who believe as you do. I’ve seen the polling data. You have a strong political voice that should be heard. But under the present political scheme, you’re just a lonely voice crying in the wilderness,” Jude said sincerely.
“I’m hardly a lonely voice in the wilderness. I am the governor of the great state of Alabama and I too have seen some of that polling data myself. Now if you’re trying to move this old mule in a certain direction, you may want to try a little sweet-talking, plain and simple, without Madison Avenue’s confetti and streamers. Do you understand where I’m coming from?” Wallace said.
“I understand, Governor,” Jude said clearing his throat. “Let me start by saying the last election may have been the death rattle of the Republican Party. Barry Goldwater led the Republicans to near destruction. After that debacle of a campaign, a lot of people were disillusioned and now there’s growing grassroots support for a new political party. A party built on fundamental American beliefs. I’ve heard some of your campaign speeches, Governor. I heard you complain that both the Democrat and Republican Parties have become too powerful and the common man can’t even tell the difference between either one. We both know, Governor, even though you have a national political following, you’ll always be the Southern bastard child of the Democrat Party. Oh yeah, they’ll slap you on the back and thank you for all the votes you can deliver, but they won’t accept you in the inner circle where the real power is. Nor will they ever give you the opportunity for national attention.”
Governor Wallace broke in with a southern drawl. “I hear what you’re saying, Mr. Thaddeus. And I might even agree with you on some of your points. But what are you asking me to do, join your Republican Party?”
“I’m not asking you to join the Republican Party, Governor.” Jude paused for a moment then added, “I’m asking you to be the leader of a new political party, the American Independent Party.”
“Now boys, I thought it was interesting of you to ask me about a third party. Quite frankly, I may not agree with everything that’s happening with my Democrat Party, but I’m a loyal party member. My whole family and almost everyone else I know are Democrats. I can’t see myself leaving my party for some startup organization with a couple of pipe dreamers telling me what a good idea it is.”
“I can assure you, Governor, we’re not a couple of pipe dreamers trying to drum up business by creating a new political party,” Jude said as his voice picked up steam. “There’s a need for another party; there’s an opportunity now to take the bull by the horns and make this possibility a reality. And your leadership would be the keystone building block to get this new party organized and ready to elect our kind of people.”
“As I’ve already said boys, I’m a loyal party man. I’ve worked my way up in the Democrat Party. I know we have some problems and we’ll try to work them out. But I believe my future is to remain in the Democrat Party,” Wallace said as if he was waiting for a rebuff.
“Governor, let’s talk about the future of the South,” Jude was quick to respond. “Bob Dylan’s a popular hippie song writer with a new catchy tune ‘The Times they are a changing.’ Believe me Governor, times are a changing, but not like the way that hippie’s yodeling about. I’m talking about the industrial changes that will shift the manufacturing center of this country. The rust belt states in the north are in deep trouble. They’re being hampered by the high cost of labor and increasing union rules. Their production facilities are outdated with growing environmental barriers preventing them to build new plants. I tell you Governor, Ray Charles can see what’s about to happen. The big industries are going to move south, to a more favorable labor pool, with lower energy costs, with more suitable weather...a smoother social understanding of businesses. For this to work properly the political atmosphere must be suitable. We need the right people in public office to help in this transition. How do we get these people? We realize that the Republican Party is cursed in the South and has been for over a hundred years, so they won’t have any political influence. And the Democratic Party in the South is too powerful, and quite frankly, Governor, its corrupt and not likely to welcome changes. We believe now is the time to start a new political party that’s free from generations of family-controlled politicians. Like you, Governor, we want a party that represents the interests of the people. We would like you to consider leading this party. And this is not just as a regional party we’re talking about, but as a national organized party with a shot at making big changes from rural America to the White House.”
“I should have known, when a Rockefeller became my new neighbor, changes would be coming,” Governor Wallace said thoughtfully.
“I told you George, stick with me and I’ll make you rich and powerful,” Winthrop yelled toward the speakerphone with a laugh.
“Mr. Thaddeus, you’re sure talking about a lot of big changes.” Wallace paused for a moment then slowly spoke in his southern drawl. “Yah know, down here some folk say that talk is kind of cheap.”
“I can assure you, Governor; I can put a lot of money where my mouth is. It took a lot to defeat six-term Governor Orval Faubus, but Winthrop did it. In addition to money we can marshal the talented people necessary to set up and operate a national political organization to win elections. We know what needs to be done and how to do it,” Jude said confidently.
“Governor Rockefeller,” Wallace was yelling in his phone. “Now, I’m beginning to understand just how you got elected with only eleven percent registered Republicans. With enough money, the right people, and a good organization, that’s a pretty good receipt to win elections.”
“Don’t forget about all my fine barbecues, it also cost a lot of good prime steaks for me to get elected,” Winthrop said jokingly in response.
“Governor Wallace, I’m here representing Governor Winthrop Rockefeller of Arkansas, and I am speaking unofficially for his brother Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York. As you know both men have tremendous political clout and a great deal of influence with the New York based news media that’s headquartered near Rockefeller Center. And there’s more, a lot more that will be used to help elect the next president of the United States,” Jude said in a cold tone. All was quiet.
“We would like you to consider being our candidate for president of the United States. I can assure you, that you will have the support of the Rockefellers and all that goes with the name; including money, organization, and influence.”