History buffs know Hillary Rodham supported U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater, an Arizona Republican, for president in 1964. Barry Goldwater Jr. is one of them.
“That’s when she was thinking clearly,” said the 77-year-old son of the late Senator Goldwater (1908-98) during a recent phone interview. We have a mutual friend, so I sought his take on this election year given all the commentary about the supposed parallels between the Republican Party’s 1964 presidential nominee and Donald Trump.
“You’ve got two different personalities,” Goldwater said, “My father served in public life, four years in the military, then was in public service, serving the state of Arizona. He was in the U.S. Senate for 30 years and served with great distinction, and was probably one of the most popular senators among his colleagues.” Trump, he said, has “spent his life serving himself. I guess I’m not all that excited about this candidate.”
Goldwater, Jr., an Arizona State University graduate who served seven terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, did give Trump credit for correctly reading the GOP electorate’s mood this year.
“Underlying the surface is discontent in the body politic. Our economy has not recovered, there are low wages, the standard of living for many has been degraded, and there’s no real leadership in foreign policy. I think Donald Trump has latched onto it,” Goldwater added.
The former Congressman also correctly noted his father’s ascendence in 1964 reflected a shift in the GOP’s electoral power, to the southern and western parts of the U.S. and away from the north and the east. In 2016, the situation has reversed itself, with a New Yorker sitting atop the Republican Party’s ballot.
The Phoenix resident, a co-founder of Goldwater Taplin Group, an insurance consulting firm with offices in 17 U.S. cities, won’t be attending the Republican National Convention next month in Cleveland. He did hint, however, he’ll eventually vote for the GOP’s presidential nominee in November instead of the former U.S. Senator from New York who long ago supported his father for president.
Goldwater Sr. came to prominence as a senior executive in his family’s Goldwater’s department store business and was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1952 after serving overseas as a pilot during World War II in the Air Transport Command. Following his loss in 1964’s race for The White House, Goldwater Sr. spent four years in the private sector before winning election again to the U.S. Senate in 1968, 1974, and 1980.
Barry Goldwater Jr. represented a Congressional district north of Los Angeles from 1969 to 1983 after finding success as a stockbroker. “I rode the bull market of the 1960s and that gave me enough money to run for Congress,” he said, adding, “I won, and then slowly depleted my savings.” His career in elective office ended after an unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign in the early 1980s.
While in the U.S. House, Congressman Goldwater served on the Science and Technology, Public Works and Transportation, and Energy committees and has fond memories of D.C. even though the Republicans were a minority in the U.S. House during his time in office.
Indeed, he had high praise for the late U.S. House Speaker Thomas ‘Tip’ O’Neill (1912-94) of Massachusetts. “I was a minority Member for 14 years, and he was probably one of the best Speakers that the Congress has ever had,” Goldwater Jr. said. “He [O’Neill] understood that, without minority involvement, democracy doesn’t work very well. We knew who had the votes but at least he allowed input, and discussion about ideas.”
Mike Barry, vice president of media relations for an insurance industry trade group, has worked in government and journalism. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the publisher or Anton Media Group.