“Pick Me!” Vice Presidential – and Presidential – hopefuls have made Meet the Press a part of their campaign throughout the program’s history. One of the most striking examples of self-advocacy came from Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey on August 23rd, 1964 – the eve of that year’s Democratic National Convention. Down to the wire on a running mate selection, Johnson had kept everyone – including Humphrey – guessing about his VP pick in the weeks before the convention, occasionally causing his eventual VP consternation by floating the names of other prominent Democrats in the press.
By the time he arrived in Atlantic City for the Convention, Humphrey was hopeful that his Senatorial loyalty to Johnson throughout the turbulent year would get him on the ticket, and made his ambitions clear on Meet the Press. Humphrey seemed to see his Meet the Press appearance as a final public push for the nomination. When NBC’s Ray Scherer asked about the role Vice President, the Senator gave a strikingly passionate answer, continuously stressing that the most important quality in a Vice President was “fidelity, a willingness literally to give himself to his President.” It must have worked, as Humphrey got the nod from LBJ three days later.
In a 1980 Meet the Press retrospective show, moderator Bill Monroe highlighted the 1964 moment as a sign of the bond to Johnson that would later cause Humphrey difficulty during his Vice Presidency and Presidential effort, because of his internal disagreement with the war in Vietnam: “For four years, Humphrey agonized as Vice President…but publicly he gave himself to Lyndon Johnson.”
You can watch the 1964 answer by Humphrey that Monroe called “an extravagant pledge of loyalty” in the clip below. And for today’s Vice Presidential news, check out our compilation of Paul Ryan interviews on Meet the Press here.
Every Monday, Betsy Fischer Martin - the Executive Producer of Meet the Press - poses a trivia question on Twitter about the 64 years of history-making moments and guests on Meet The Press. Check back every Tuesday for answers and video clips!