America's most trusted newsman could have easily become Americas' most trusted politician.
Walter Cronkite could have been the Vice Presidential nominee in the 1972 election if he had only been offered the job, reports Frank Mankiewicz, former campaign director for Sen. George McGovern, in an article he wrote for the Washington Post.
Mankiewicz, motivated by Cronkite's anti-war stance and popularity, suggested the newsman to be McGovern's running mate.
"He was a fresh face, someone who could attract the increasingly large number of non-voters and was considered by Americans to be a reliable news source," said McGovern.
The suggestion was met with vehement disapproval by campaign staffers. They felt Cronkite would never have accepted the nomination, and the ticket would look desperate by even asking him.
Instead, the ticket famously chose Sen.Thomas Eagleton, who at first glance seemed like the ideal running mate. He was scandal free, union backed, and had a winning record in three or four statewide elections. The pick turned disastrous when Eagleton pulled out, sighting his bouts with "melancholy," for which he had received electric shock therapy. Pundits said the pull out doomed McGovern.
While Mankiewicz muses about what might have been, he recalls Sen. McGovern and Cronkite both attending a meeting of a corporate board they both served on years later. McGovern told Cronkite of the internal debate to pick the journo as his running mate, and their decision to go with Eagleton, for fear he would turn down the offer.
"On the contrary George," the newsman had told McGovern. "I'd have accepted in a in a minute; anything to end that dreadful war."