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US Presidential Elections and Foreign PolicyCandidates, Campaigns, and Global Politics from FDR to Bill Clinton$
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Andrew Johnstone and Andrew Priest

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780813169057

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813169057.001.0001

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Every Way Out

Every Way Out

Vietnam, American National Identity, and the 1968 Presidential Election

(p.177) 8 Every Way Out
US Presidential Elections and Foreign Policy

Sandra Scanlon

University Press of Kentucky

The prominence of foreign policy—specifically the Vietnam War—during the 1968 presidential election has long been recognized by scholars. This chapter examines the campaigns of the three presidential candidates and argues that Richard Nixon framed his foreign policies in terms of widely shared concepts of American national identity. Unlike Hubert Humphrey, Nixon actively utilized positive polarization and framed the Vietnam War as an American domestic struggle rather than as an international one. During the final weeks of the campaign, Nixon’s message on foreign policy and his championing of law and order were thereby reconciled. This campaigning style redefined the function of foreign policy during presidential elections and presented Nixon with a far greater ideological triumph than his narrow victory would suggest.

Keywords:   1968 election, Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey, Vietnam War

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