Study Guide

Nelson Rockefeller in 1964 RNC Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech

By Barry Goldwater

Nelson Rockefeller

Yes, those Rockefellers.

As the son of one of the most influential dudes in American business, young Nelson had a big pair of shoes to fill.

Did he crumble under the pressure? Did he freak out and run away to Costa Rica to take in a few months at the spa?

Short answer: No.

Long answer: Still no.

What he did do was build up a rockin' résumé in the exciting worlds of banking and oil before becoming a patron of the arts and a world-class good-deeder.

And as if that wasn't enough to make the 'rents proud, he also became a prominent political figure. Presidents FDR and Truman appointed him to some pretty important positions, and in 1959 he was elected Governor of New York.

Nelson "Rocky" Rockefeller was the presumed leader of the "Eastern Republicans," the more moderate wing of the Republican Party. Unlike Barry Goldwater and the rest of the uber-conservatives, Rocky and his crew didn't think that some government intervention was all that horrible of a thing if it helped society solve its problems.

Governor Rockefeller wasn't the only one who felt that way, and he had a lot of supporters inside and out of his party. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite enough support to secure the presidential nomination when he ran against Goldwater in 1964.

In fact, it wasn't enough to win the nomination any other time he ran, either. And he ran in 1960, 1964, and 1968. That had to hurt, but not to fear. Rocky did, eventually, make it to the White House, or at least close. When Watergate woes caused President Nixon to resign, then-Veep Gerald Ford became President. And guess who became his second-in-command? That's right—Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller.

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