They Don’t Call Me “Honest Marvin” for Nothing

“Is this a trial balloon for 2016?” some politically hip people have asked regarding my last letter regaling readers about my exploits in the field of Republican presidential politics in 1964 (see Part 2).

As I said, when asked the same question in 1968, under no circumstances was I amenable to a draft unless it is honest, genuine, earnest, heart-felt and unengineered. And I reject any such movement until the movers can demonstrate the ability to engineer the kind of draft I require.

And I am sticking by that pledge, despite the temptations of a current race in which every Don, Rick and Rafael (Ted) have bitten of the golden apple called the GOP presidential nomination. I am merely establishing bonafides as a presidential politics wonk.


There are those who still can’t comprehend how I managed to lose in 1964 as the only Real Lincoln Republican in the race.

Like the 17 candidates who are running today, I expected to win. Something about making the sacrifice tends to fill a candidate’s hot air balloon. And I had been undefeated, keep in mind, making my first race.


Four score and many months ago, in the winter of 1963, when I decided to throw my stovepipe hat into the New Hampshire GOP primary, joining worthy opponents including Goldwater, Rockefeller, Nixon, Scranton, Romney the father, Stassen, Lodge and Mrs. Smith, the polls showed the Party widely split on a major issue.

They read:
For Kitman 1%
Against Kitman 1%
Don’t Know 98%

The polls were often wrong in the primaries.

With a campaign staff supplied by my employer at the time, Monocle magazine, a leisurely quarterly of political satire, a delegate pledged “to vote for the nomination of Marvin Kitman at the national convention “ (voting in the primary is for delegates not candidates) was secured. Given the limited resources of the ironical chronicle, a decision by the campaign staff was made to aim the campaign completely at the press.

As the candidate, I was on the stump doing all the right things. Who lost Cuba? I asked. President Franklin Pierce, the democrat, had been offered the chance to buy Cuba for $6 million in 1854, but he was balancing the budget that year.

The candidate offered to debate Goldwater—but not on a Friday night or Saturday—on whether extremism in the name of vice was such a good thing.

When it was over, my delegate received 638 votes. That may not seem like much but Harold Stassen got 1,230. My principal opponent, as my strategists projected, had been in the Granite State for six months and spent thousands on his paid volunteers and organized spontaneous demonstrators. I had campaigned only one weekend on roughly $5 a day.

It was seen as a mandate from the people. The Saturday Evening Post, which had supported editorially the only Real Lincoln Republican in the race, decided to underwrite sending the candidate to the convention in the Cow Palace.


How did I expect to win? The strategy was explained in an address to the Board of Governors of the New York Young Republican Club, the most powerful Young Republican group in the nation. “I have not come here to ask for your endorsement on the first ballot,” began my appeal to the seventeen cigar- smoking young fogies. “I realize most of you are already committed to moderate Goldwater or the far left Rockefeller. But we all know there is going to be a wide-open convention in San Francisco this summer. I want to be the first candidate to appeal for your endorsement on the twenty- fifth ballot.”

“The real danger facing the party, “ the candidate continued, “is that in a deadlock the party leaders might turn in desperation to Harold Stassen. I can stop Stassen.”

A young Republican, who I later learned was a key staff assistant at Rockey’s headquarters, suddenly stood up, and shouted, “He’s against slavery. Rockey’s against slavery. Let’s endorse him.”

“Vote! Vote!” the other governors cried. A stampede was on.

By a vote of 16 to 1, the Board adopted a resolution: “Resolved that the Board of Governors of the New York Young Republican Club hereby supports the candidacy of Marvin Kitman for the Presidency of the United States in the event that the Republican convention becomes deadlocked and a twenty-fifth ballot is reached.”

Cutting to the chase, the Kitman-Lincoln ticket did not emerge victorious. The Goldwater thugs in Phoenix stole the election.


I blamed my loss on being too closely aligned with Lincoln. His picture was on my campaign button and featured in all my campaign literature.

The Republican Party, I declared in my concession speech, was not ready yet for Abraham Lincoln. And still isn’t today.

How else can you explain the party of Lincoln going from the old Rail Splitter to Nixon, Ford, a couple of Bushes, and, based on the latest polls, the first Trump administration.

A Party that today loves God and guns…

A Party that favors allowing people to starve, rather than wasting taxpayer money on food stamps…

A Party that prefers people get sick and die or go bankrupt rather than giving them socialized affordable health insurance…

A party that favors ending Social Security and let old folks play the stock market with their retirement money...

A Party that is doing its darndest to prevent people from exercising the franchise with restrictive ID’s. (It’s lucky we don’t advocate limiting elections to property holders)…

A Party whose platform favors making raped 12 year olds carry an unborn to term…

A Party that is mean–spirited, cruel, and anti-people, except Corporate People, as defined by the Supreme Court…

A Party whose candidates all support the Constitution, yet its leading candidate is advocating violating the 14th amendment, guaranteeing birthright citizenship. (Will we favor deporting babies right from maternity wards?)…

A Party whose leading candidate in 2016 is advocating building a wall across the southern border, which might lead to the second Mexican-American war, even though Lincoln was against the first….

A Party whose 16 other Republicans who would be President are afraid to speak up against the number one clown in the Clown Car as the Republican Party is being portrayed in the media…

A Party that will be in total chaos when the leading candidate decides he has done enough research for his next book, a candidate whose worst nightmare is actually winning the nomination and the presidency, which will limit his future business opportunities— for awhile.

I’d better stop this before it sounds like campaign speech for the next president, Mister Lincoln Republican, Senor Donald Trump.



Marvin Kitman
August 18, 2015

The writer ran for president in the Republican primaries of 1964. He lost.

 Creative Commons Licensed Photo "Mount Rushmore 7-24-2014-19" by Flickr user Josh Grenier