Convention Author:Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II "The Thirtieth Republican National Convention will now ballot for a candidate for President of the United States!" the chairman intoned. — And for the first time since the convention opened, the great Chicago auditorium fell silent. The bands were quiet now, as were the campaign songs, the impassioned oratory, the blasts of approval or protest fr... more »om the floor, the din of the well-organized "spontaneous demonstrations". The ballot was all that mattered now.
The previous weekend it had looked easy. Charles B. Manchester apppeared to be the obvious choice of the party. Manchester, the respected Secretary of the Treasury- "big, cheerful, smart, compassionate, a leader with the magnetism that marked a winner"- was the odds-on-favorite over the closest opposition, California's popular Governor Bryan Roberts. So at least it had seemed to Manchester's young press aide, Archie DuPage, relatively new to politics.
But, as the charming Grace Orcott, pro-Roberts National Committeewoman from Texas, had observed to her daughter Kay: "Manchester has twice as many pledges. That doesn't mean he'll have as many votes five days from now. A lot can happen at a convention..."
And much indeed happened. It started at a press conference, when Manchester, straightforward and candid, uttered an offhand phrase, apt but politically naive. It boomeranged.
In an incredibly short time the odds were changed, confusingly and appallingly; the line-up shifted, the pledges evaporated. The convention that had started as a quiet formality swiftly became a political Donnybrook. Charles Manchester, his wife and children, and Archie DuPage were caught in the vortex, as were Grace and Kay Orcott, all plotting and maneuvering desperately as the few short hours sped by toward the voting.
In our whole political scene, nothing captured the imagination like the tense emotional atmosphere of our party conventions. Combining the experience of top political reporters with the proven skill of expert novelists, Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II have used the excitement of a convention as the background for a story that is wonderfully entertaining, edge-of-the-chair reading.« less