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Anecdotal Evidence, August 14: Throwback to Kennedy’s Wisconsin campaign

Lars Gesing, CU News Corps Assistant Director

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Logo final_highIn our Anecdotal Evidence column, movers and shakers share personal stories of how intriguing (and often odd) presidential campaigning in their respective swing state can be.

#throwback – The long-lost days of retail primaries in Wisconsin

Charles Franklin. Photo: Lars Gesing/CU News Corps

Charles Franklin. Photo: Lars Gesing/CU News Corps

Charles Franklin – Director Marquette Law School Poll (WI) 

“I moved to Wisconsin in 1992. The legendary stories are from before my time, like Kennedy beating Humphrey here in 1960. The question was: With Humphrey from right next door in Minnesota, could Kennedy win in the Midwest?

“There is a wonderful black-and-white documentary, Primary, that shows them campaigning here. The world was so different. There was a driver, the cameraman, Kennedy and one other person in the back of a car, driving around the state. You just ask yourself: How could it be like this – even in 1960? That kind of small-scale retail politics is so much rarer these days.

“The small diner conversation, the factory visit? Those days are largely gone. Bill Proxmire was the senator from here from 1957 to 1989. Proxmire would do this thing where he didn’t spend any money on his campaign, but he would show up at factory gates at 5 in the morning and shake hands with everybody. It was a point of pride to him that aside from his registration fee and gas mileage, that was his campaign.

“There is this element of history of retail campaigns here. But the reality of campaign finance and modern media has swept most of the practice and the memories of it away.”

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Explanatory Multimedia Reporting from CU Boulder Journalism Students
Anecdotal Evidence, August 14: Throwback to Kennedy’s Wisconsin campaign