WHAT IF

Vice President Cronkite?

How different would America be if Walter Cronkite had joined Sen. George McGovern on the ticket in 1972? That’s what Frank Mankiewicz, political director for McGovern’s campaign, wonders in The Washington Post Saturday. Tasked with the job of choosing McGovern’s running mate, Mankiewicz explains that he was prepared to pick Cronkite because he was “the most trusted man in America,” known as staunchly anti-war, and existed “wholly outside of politics." But the idea was quickly dismissed by the rest of McGovern’s campaign officials on the grounds that Cronkite would never accept. Instead, they chose Sen. Thomas Eagleton of Missouri, who neglected to mention that he had received multiple electric shock treatments for being “melancholy,” and had to drop off the ticket. Years later, McGovern told Cronkite that his name had been floated for vice president, but dismissed because they thought he’d never agree. “On the contrary, George,” Cronkite responded. “I’d have accepted in a minute; anything to help end that dreadful war.”