Sunday, September 26, 2021

South Bay History: Republican Candidate Barry Goldwater Brings His Presidential Campaign to the South Bay in 1964

Johnson’s decisive victory over Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election always comes to the fore when the topic of a landslide election comes up.

Sam Gennare

Johnson was vice president under President John F. Kennedy, and became president after Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963. LBJ had been in office only a few months when the 1964 presidential campaign began in January of the same year. It was postponed after the murder.

The Johnson-Goldwater feud offered a clear choice between the incumbent president, a centrist Democrat, and Goldwater, a staunchly conservative Republican. Johnson’s campaign tried to portray Goldwater as a dangerous battleship, while Goldwater’s campaign attacked Johnson as being too lenient.

Goldwater had some ties to the South Bay, which brought him to the region in 1963, when he had already made it clear that he was running for president. Members of the Peninsula Republican Men’s Club presented him with an award in April 1963 in Torrance, where he was helping his daughter with a project at her home. Social/political events were also organized for another daughter, Mrs. Thomas H. Ross, who lived in Redondo Beach, where her husband practices medicine.

After the campaign began in 1964, Goldwater established a strong South Bay presence.

The first Goldwater for President’s office in Torrance opened on January 11, 1964 at 4729 Torrance Blvd., where Scardino’s Italian restaurant is currently located.

His expedition later moved his headquarters to 1323 El Prado in Torrance, across the street from McCown’s Rexall drugstore. The small storefront building still stands, just north of the Clutch & Coffee restaurant in downtown Torrance.

Goldwater had to cancel her first major South Bay campaign appearance on April 6, 1964, at Ascot Park near Gardena, because she had to stay in Washington DC for a congressional debate on civil rights legislation.

On May 16, the Palos Verdes Young Republicans sponsored a one-day cruise to Catalina Island, where those who paid $10 for a ticket had the chance to meet Goldwater in person.

Goldwater appeared at a major campaign rally at El Camino Stadium (later renamed Murdock Stadium) on the El Camino College campus on August 22, 1964. The 7,000-seat venue was filled for the event, with tickets costing $1.50. Local US Representative Alfonso Bell started Goldwater.

South Bay History: Republican Candidate Barry Goldwater Brings His Presidential Campaign to the South Bay in 1964
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