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A Glorious Disaster: Barry Goldwater's Presidential Campaign and the Origins of the Conservative Movement

Recorded on November 17, 2006

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium

The 1964 presidential campaign lives on in conservative circles as an origin myth for the modern conservative movement. Even though their preferred (and now revered) candidate lost to Lyndon B. Johnson by a landslide, Barry Goldwater's failed presidential run was a major turning point of the 20th Century. Without Goldwater's philosophy to pave the way - and, just as importantly, without the strategic and political infrastructure created by the "Draft Goldwater" movement that preceded it - there likely would have been no Reagan or Bush administrations, and possibly no Nixon administration either. The policy positions and electoral strategies of the Goldwater campaign became standard tenets of Republican politics. J. William Middendorf had better than a ringside seat for this pivotal campaign. A key member of the "Draft Goldwater" movement as early as 1962, he was Goldwater's campaign treasurer and, afterwards, a major force within the Republican Party. No one knows the real inside story better, and A Glorious Disaster tells that story in all its rollicking, agonizing, and never-before-published detail.

J. William Middendorf II, served in the Nixon, Ford, and Reagan administrations as Secretary of the Navy, Ambassador to The Netherlands, U.S. Representative to the Organization of American States, and U.S. Representative to the European Community. He is a founding member, with William F. Buckley, Jr., of the American Conservative Union and a member of the Board of Trustees of The Heritage Foundation.