A Glorious Disaster: Barry Goldwater's Presidential Campaign and the Origins of the Conservative Movement, by J. William Middendorf II.
The day after losing the 1964 presidential election with only 27 million votes (to Lyndon Johnson's 43 million), Barry Goldwater told the press, "Twenty-seven million votes is a lot of votes." Conservatives believed that they had taken a major step in their battle to overturn New Deal liberalism.
J. William Middendorf, treasurer to the Goldwater presidential campaign, offers an inside account of the Goldwater movement from its origins to its defeat. In putting together the draft Goldwater movement, F. Clifton White, Peter O'Donnell, William Rusher, and others assembled a grassroots campaign that carried Goldwater to the nomination in San Francisco. Following the convention, less able managers took over the campaign.
Middendorf's admiration for Goldwater, the man and the symbol, is evident throughout the book, but the author also reveals the candidate's missteps—driving in a Cadillac with his wife Peggy in a fur coat during the New Hampshire primary, his general crankiness with the press, and his frequent refusal to stop and shake hands with voters at campaign rallies. Middendorf's account is persuasive in showing how this defeat launched a critical turn in our history as conservatism became a potent force in American politics.
—Donald T. Critchlow
Saint Louis University
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This article appeared in the Spring 2007 issue of the Claremont Review of Books