A Gallup Poll after the November 1966 elections showed Romney as favored among Republicans over former Vice President Richard Nixon for the Republican nomination, 39 percent to 31 percent; a Harris Poll showed Romney beating President Johnson among all voters by 54 percent to 46 percent. California's Nixon considered Michigan's George Romney his chief opponent.
Romney was pressed for his opinion on the Vietnam War, which hawk Richard Nixon supported. Finally, on August 31, 1967, in a taped interview with talk show host Lou Gordon of WKBD-TV in Detroit, Romney stated: "When I came back from Viet Nam [in November 1965], I'd just had the greatest brainwashing that anybody can get."
The connotations of brainwashing, following the experiences of American prisoners of war (highlighted by the 1962 film The Manchurian Candidate), made Romney's comments devastating, especially as it reinforced the negative image of Romney's abilities that had already developed. The topic of brainwashing quickly became newspaper editorial and television talk show fodder, and Romney bore the brunt of topical humor. Senator Eugene McCarthy, running against Johnson for the Democratic nomination, commenting on the "brainwashing," said that in Romney's case, "a light rinse would have been sufficient."
Two weeks before the March 12, 1967 primary, an internal poll showed George Romney losing to Richard Nixon by a six-to-one margin in New Hampshire. Nelson Rockefeller, seeing the poll result as well, publicly maintained his support for Romney but said he would be available for a draft; the statement made national headlines and embittered Romney. Seeing his cause was hopeless, Romney announced his withdrawal as a presidential candidate on February 28, 1968. Romney wrote his son Mitt, still away on missionary work: "Your mother and I are not personally distressed. As a matter of fact, we are relieved. ... I aspired, and though I achieved not, I am satisfied."
Richard Nixon went on to gain the nomination. At the 1968 Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, George Romney refused to release his delegates to Nixon, something Nixon did not forget.
The battle that was thus set to be played out was one in which Cowboy Nixon would take on another Cowboy, LBJ. But LBJ would withdraw from the race, Eugene McCarthy would score some Democratic wins, RFK would set the stage for his nomination, and be assassinated. LBJ's Vice President, a late entry, Humbert Humphrey would run as the Democratic candidate. Then George Wallace would run as on the American Independent Party, taking Democratic votes from the South. Nixon would win in 1968.
Lost in that violent history of 1968, is what happened to Romney. But George Romney never forgot why he wasn't in the race. Romney would later claim it was Nelson Rockefeller's entry into the mix, and not Romney's own "brainwashing" remark, that doomed him.
Popular history has it wrong, insisted George W. Romney, the three-time Governor of Michigan whose run for the 1968 Republican Presidential nomination is widely believed to have been destroyed by his assertion that he had been misled or ''brainwashed'' by American generals and diplomats on a 1965 trip to Vietnam.
''That wasn't true,'' said Mr. Romney, who celebrated a nostalgic 80th birthday over the weekend by treating his four-generation clan to a fling in Washington. ''I didn't drop out of the race because of the 'brainwash' statement.''
What actually happened, he added Friday on their insiders' tour of the White House, was that Nelson A. Rockefeller retreated from a commitment to support him and decided to woo for himself the elements of the Republican Party not supporting Richard M. Nixon, who went on to win the nomination and the election.
''When Rockefeller said he'd accept a draft, that meant he was a candidate,'' Mr. Romney told his progeny, ''and I knew it was all up.''
Soon after, Mr. Romney continued, he and his wife, Lenore, encountered the New York Governor at a White House reception.
Rockefeller ''threw his arms around Lenore and said, 'Why did you let him pull out?' '' Mr. Romney remembered. ''And she pushed him back and she said, 'Well, Nelson, there couldn't be two candidates -and he turned red in the face and walked away.' ''
~ "Romney, Recalling 1968, Explains It All," Robert D. Hersey, New York Times, July 6, 1987.
There have been subtle conflicts between the J. P. Morgan branch versus the John Rockefeller branch of the Republican Party for a long time. Both the Morgan and Rockefeller divisions are variously described, nevertheless, as "liberal," "moderate," or Yankee, as opposed to the more conservative Cowboy segments of the Republican Party.
Carl Oglesby’s Cowboys ~ whether Republicans or Democrats ~ are associated with the aerospace and petroleum industries of the South and West. They spread from Florida to Texas, and then into the SW, with the addition of the more recent electronics and Internet revolution, especially of California.
But history is the prelude to the present. Old events unfold new truths. The fight between the Cowboys and Yankees often overshadows the ongoing conflict between the Morgan vs Rockefeller parts of the Yankee Republicans. But sometimes there are glimpses of what might be occurring.
In a discussion of the deaths of Presidents in office, researcher Murray Rothbard writes of how these battlegrounds are evidenced, in the extreme:
Next president to die in office was William McKinley of Ohio, long-time Rockefeller tool. Another lone nut was responsible, the "anarchist" Leon Czolgosz, who, like Guiteau, was quickly tried and executed by the Establishment. Even though Czolgosz was considered a flake and was not a member of any organized anarchist group, the assassination was used by the Establishment to smear anarchism and to outlaw anarchist ideas and agitation. Various obscure anti-sedition and anti-conspiracy laws trotted out from time to time by the Establishment were passed during this post-McKinley assassination hysteria. Beneficiary? The vaulting to power of Teddy Roosevelt, long-time tool of the competing Morgan (as opposed to Rockefeller) wing of the Republican Party. Teddy immediately started using the anti-trust weapon to try to destroy Rockefeller's Standard Oil and Harriman's Northern Securities, both bitter enemies of the Morgan world empire. Exhume McKinley, and also start a deep investigation of the possible role of Teddy and the Morgans. Was Czolgosz only a lone nut?
Next sudden death in office was that of my favorite president of the twentieth century, Warren Gamaliel Harding, in the camp of the Rockefellers. His death was quickly dismissed by the Establishment as of natural causes, but Gaston Means, a Secret Service agent in the Harding White House, wrote a sensational book, The Strange Death of Warren Harding, charging that Harding was poisoned by his wife, for two possible, though somewhat contradictory reasons: (a) Harding's notorious womanizing, and (b) to spare Harding the scandal of the Teapot Dome revelations, which were just emerging. Means's charge was brusquely dismissed on the grounds that he was an unreliable character. Perhaps, but so what? Surely, the grounds for exhumation are overwhelming. Chief beneficiary of Harding's death? Vice President Calvin Coolidge, member of the prominent Massachusetts family long in the Morgan ambit. (Hmmm. Another sudden death that replaced a Rockefeller person with a Morgan man?!)
Of the current 2012 Republican presidential candidates, who was aligned and use to work for Nelson Rockefeller (who would became Vice President under Gerald Ford after Nixon resigned)?
That would be Newt Gingrich. See below a 1988 clip of Gingrich saying he was “a Rockefeller state chairman in the South.” The information has also surfaced in at least one recent profile, as has his membership on the Council on Foreign Relations.