Political writing: Presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy comes to Maine

I haven’t posted any examples of political writing to this point, but that’s what I spent a lot of time doing when I was a reporter for UPI in Maine. My office was on the fourth floor of the Maine State House, and most of my days were spent covering government hearings, legislative sessions and gubernatorial news conferences. In this case, a national presidential candidate came to town. I don’t really recall this visit by Eugene McCarthy in 1975, but I’m sure I considered it a break in the usual routine and a chance to get some national coverage for one of my stories.

 

By ARTHUR FREDERICK

AUGUSTA, Maine (UPI) – Independent presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy says both major political parties are in trouble, and the Democrats are in more danger of extinction than the Republicans.

McCarthy, a former senator who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1968, said Thursday an independent stands a good chance in the presidential election next year because of the public’s growing disaffection.

“If you have a party that can nominate Richard Nixon twice, that ought to cause them problems for at least 20 years,” McCarthy said. “And if the other party can’t put up someone to beat him, that ought to say something about them.”

McCarthy said the Democrats have lost sight of their objectives and could be in danger of fading away.

“There’s no reason why a party shouldn’t disappear,” McCarthy said. “It happened to the Whig party between 1856 and 1864.”

McCarthy said the Republic Party is sort of like moss on a rock; “It gets green in the spring and grey in the fall, but it doesn’t change much.” he said. “I think the Republican Party is closer to fulfilling its function.”

The former senator said there is the best chance of the past 30 to 40 years for an independent to be elected president.

McCarthy came to Maine to talk with independent Gov. James B. Longley about a suit the two men are involved in which challenges the federal campaign funding law. The suit goes before the U.S. Supreme Court Nov. 10.

McCarthy said the campaign law discriminates against independent candidates and works to perpetuate the existing parties.

McCarthy said he felt the suit would result at least in changes in the act.

“We’re very optimistic. It is our feeling that even if it is constitutional it is a very bad act, and we’re hopeful we can stop it,” he said.

The act limits contributions to $5,000 to any one candidate and to $25,p000 in any election; requires that contributors’ names be made public; imposes spending limits on candidates; and provides federal funding to the party candidates.

Longley, who attended the news conference with McCarthy at the Blaine House, said the federal act serves to discourage people from running for office.

“I think we need to do more to encourage people to run for office,” he said.

McCarthy said the act has made it difficult for him to run for president.

“It’s made it difficult to finance our campaign,” he said. “It gives a clear advantage to the Democrats and Republicans by giving them funds to start with.

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