Cronkite as VP? It Nearly Happened

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 25, 2009 10:08 AM CDT
With the pictures of former democratic presidents Kennedy and Johnson behind him, Sen. George McGovern introduces Sargent Shriver as his new vice presidential running mate in 1972.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – A lot of things would have been better in America if Walter Cronkite had been elected vice president in 1972, writes Frank Mankiewicz in the Washington Post, and it could have happened. Mankiewicz was the political director for George McGovern’s campaign, and, “armed with a poll showing Walter Cronkite to be the most trusted man in America, I proposed that the senator put forward Walter Cronkite for vice president.”

“My idea met with instant, and unanimous, disapproval,” Mankiewicz writes. Staffers, figuring that Cronkite would never agree and that it would make the campaign look desperate, opted instead for the disastrous choice of Thomas Eagleton. Years later, McGovern told Cronkite of the possibility. “I'd have accepted in a minute,” the newsman responded. “Anything to help end that dreadful war.” If Cronkite had run, Mankiewicz writes, “McGovern might well have won that 1972 election.”