Barry Goldwater photo

News Conference Conceding the Presidential Election in Scottsdale, Arizona

November 04, 1964

I've waited 'til now to make any statement about this election because I wanted to find out more of the details of the vote—not just the total but the spread of it, what it might portend at this very early date.

I know many of you expected me to make some statement last night but I held that off. I sent the President the following wire, which I think will be available for you if you don't have it now:

"To President Lyndon Johnson in Johnson City, Tex.

"Congratulations on your victory. I will help you in any way that I can toward achieving a growing and better America and a secure and dignified peace. The role of the Republican Party will remain in that temper but it also remains the party of opposition when opposition is called for. There is much to be done with Vietnam, Cuba, the problem of law and order in this country, and a productive economy. Communism remains our No. 1 obstacle to peace and I know that all Americans will join with you in honest solutions to these problems."

I have no bitterness, no rancor at all. I say to the President as a fellow politician that he did a wonderful job. He put together a vote total that's larger than has ever been gained in this country.

However, it's interesting to me and very surprising to me that the latest figures that I can get do not reach the totals of the 1960 election. I am disappointed in this because I thought that the American people would have turned out in greater numbers than they seem to have done.

But he did a good job and I have to congratulate him on it.

Also I want to express my gratitude to the more than 25 million people in this country who not necessarily voted for me but they voted for a philosophy that I represent, a Republican philosophy that I believe the Republican party must cling to and strengthen in the years ahead.

I want to thank all of you across this nation who turned out in those numbers to support my candidacy and that of Bill Miller and the Republican party.

I don't think that I've ever seen more dedicated people in my life, people who worked as hard or who worked as long and produced the results that they did. These people are dedicated to, as I say, the Republican philosophy.

There is a two-party system in this country and we're going to keep it. We're going to devote our days and the years ahead to strengthening the Republican party, to getting more people into it and I feel that the young people coming along will provide the army that we need.

This effort that we engaged in last Jan. 3 turns out to be a much longer effort than we thought. It's not an effort that we can drop now nor do we have any intentions of dropping it now.

I will devote—being unemployed as of Jan. 3 or thereabouts—I'll have a lot of time to devote to this party, to its leadership and to the strengthening of the party, and that I have every intention of doing. I want to just ask the people in this country who worked so hard in this election not to be despondent, that we have a job to do and let's get along with it, because there are many questions that have to be answered.

I'm very hopeful that the President will, now that the election is over, get along with the answers that we've sought during the campaign—the answers about Vietnam, about Cuba, about Communism—Communism's continuing growth all around the world—about the growing tendency to the control of our economy and our daily lives in this country.

As I said in my wire, anything that I can do—and I'm sure that I speak for all Americans—anything that we can do to help the President get along with the solutions to these problems, we're ready, willing and able to do.

Now with that I have nothing further to say. I will entertain a few questions—not any prolonged period at it. Mr. Wagner will recognize.

Q. Senator, sir, you said before you formally announced for the Presidency, you said that you hoped that if you ran you would not run so bad a race that you would hurt the conservative cause. Do you now think that you have hurt the conservative cause?

Senator Goldwater. No, I don't feel that the conservative cause has been hurt. Twenty?five million votes are a lot of votes and a lot of people dedicated to the concept of conservatism. I don't think it's been hurt at all.

Q. Have the Republican voters not shared in repudiating this philosophy you say the party must cling to?

Senator Goldwater. Well, unfortunately I think you're right—that my defeat to some degree, although I wouldn't say a major degree, was occasioned by Republicans in this country who would not vote for the—or work, I should say—for the top of the ticket. Now this is in direct contrast to times when the conservatives did not win at the convention, when we would go out and work our hearts out for the more liberal or moderate members of the Republican party.

But I don't—this is not a repudiation. This was announced. They announced this as soon as the convention was over, and I think they're entitled to do what they want but I don't think we can build a Republican party on their concepts, which in my opinion have no difference at all with the Democratic concepts.

Q. Senator, this is already being interpreted by other Republicans around the country as a crushing disaster not only because of the size of the Johnson vote but because of the Governors that went down, the Senatorial candidates who lost, the loss of I guess of some 30 seats in the House. What's your feeling on that?

Senator Goldwater. Well, I haven't seen the totals on that end of it yet. I can't tell you how many Governors lost or won. I think if some Governors had—and some Senators and some Congressmen had—more actively supported the ticket they would have been better off.

You cannot in this game of politics fight your own party. It just doesn't work. We made some good gains in the South in the Congress, which I think we would have made anyway, but we made them.

Q. Senator, if I understand you correctly, you're going to stay in as leader of your party. Well, perhaps it's too early to ask you this, but do you conceive that you might be willing to run again in 1968?

Senator Goldwater. Oh, that's a long time off, and again this would be at the wish of the party. It would be my guess that my role would be better played in helping the party organize, in continuing to raise money for it so that it can operate.

As of now I would think that they probably would pick another man to run and as of now that would be fine with me.

Q. Senator, do you expect there would be any effort over the next couple of years by some of the Republicans who did not support you enthusiastically to attempt to wrest the leadership of the party from you?

Senator Goldwater. Well, I would expect that but you have to keep this in mind. As Jim Farley said the other night, the leadership of the party—the rebuilding of the party — rests with the ticket that was picked at the National Convention, win, lose or draw. And I would see my position here as working with the leadership of the Republican members of the House and the Senate. This is the historic place where the real political power rests.

There is no such thing as a titular head of a party out of power. The head—the leadership—is to be found to be with Charlie Halleck and with Everett Dirksen in the House and the Senate. I would be working with them hand?in glove to build a party.

Q. Senator, who would you name as among the two or three leading Republican Presidential possibilities for 1968 in the wake of the situation yesterday?

Senator Goldwater. Oh, I wouldn't—I have nobody in mind. That's a long time—a long ways—off, four years from yesterday. I wouldn't want to guess anything.

Q. Senator, can you tell us a little bit about your immediate plans and then about your plans for after you're unemployed, what you are going to do to maintain this leadership, whether you're going to write, or what?

Senator Goldwater. Well, my immediate plans, I think Peggy and I'll take a little rest someplace, although we're not tired. I don't know where we'll go but we'll go someplace and then I have the problem of moving my effects out of my office in Washington, a rather sizable job. So I don't know what the plans will be after the vacation. We'll come back and be here and just then we'll make our plans.

Q. Senator, was there any single factor during the course of the campaign which you think most substantially contributed to your defeat yesterday?

Senator Goldwater. No, I was thinking about that this morning when we were talking. I can't think of any major mistake that we made. There's always minor mistakes that you make, regardless of whether you win or lose. I think this just proves that regardless of who the candidate is, it's growing increasingly difficult to upset a man who is in the White House with his tremendous base to start with of Federal employees — not that they all vote for him. The base that he starts with—oh, the power of investigation, the power of news and his ability to control news.

I think that the Republicans have to realize that they're up against something that we have seen developing in this country for many years but never have seen it in the nature and the proportion that we saw it this time. It's not—we're not running elections any more as we used to, and I think we have to study new techniques. We have to get closer to the news, closer to you fellows who handle the news, We have to be constantly on television, and so forth and so on, to build over four years some kind of a — Hi, Priscilla, I didn't see you back there — some kind of a machine that can cope with this vast power of the Federal machine.

Q. Senator, last night Paul Fannin said that he felt your defeat was due to your treatment by the press. Do you believe that is true?

Senator Goldwater. No, I don't think that the working press—I don't think that you fellows, as I said the other night—you've been — I think you've been fair. I realize that you have your own prejudices. Some of you believe in what I say and some of you don't and this is bound to be reflected both ways.

I do think, though, that the attempt by the—oh, you might say the columnists, that angle, that end of the press, both TV, radio and in the papers have hurt, because I've never seen or heard in my life such vitriolic unbased attacks on one man as has been directed to me.

Now you fellows in the working press haven't done that but I think if—oh, the things I've been called right down the line although sometimes they didn't spell it out—coward, uneducated, ungentlemanly, a bigot and all those things — I never in my life have seen such inflammatory language as has been used by some men who know better, who should write better, who should have enough decency, common ordinary manners about them to know that no man in this country, for example, is ever going to start a war, that no man in this country is ever going to deny anybody what they have coming to them.

I think these people should frankly hang their heads in shame because I think they made the fourth estate a rather sad, sorry mess.

Q. What are your personal feelings now that you have to leave Washington?

Senator Goldwater. Well, I've got a heaven to come home to. Not everybody has. I don't—I'm going to miss the Senate. Any man would. It's a wonderful experience. I wouldn't trade those 12 years for anything in the world. I'm going to keep my apartment in Washington. I don't know what I'll do with it. I'm not seeking any employment there, but I'll miss the Senate and I'll be awfully glad to get back home.

Thank you. In closing, I want to tell you that we're trying to get the 727 to stay until Friday and if that's the case you fellows can have another day out here in the sun. A lot of you look like you can use it.

And I want to thank publicly Jack Stewart for the use of the hall. Jack, we appreciate all that you've done. And again I want to tell all of you fellows of the press, the radio and TV that regardless of how you feel toward me I have a friendly, warm feeling toward all of you and I hope to see you again somewhere down the pike. Thank you.

Barry Goldwater, News Conference Conceding the Presidential Election in Scottsdale, Arizona Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project