George C. Wallace, Speech At Madison Square Garden, Oct 24, 1968

Notice how he handles the hecklers in the crowd.

 

Well, thank you very much ladies and gentlemen. Thank you very much for your gracious and kind reception here in Madison Square Garden. Im sure that the New York Times took note of the reception that weve received here in the great city of New York. Im very grateful to the people of this city and this state for the opportunity to be on the ballot on November 5, and as you know were on the ballot in all 50 states in this union. This is not a sectional movement. Its a national movement, and I am sure that those who are in attendance here tonight, especially of the press, know that our movement is a national movement and that we have an excellent chance to carry the great Empire State of New York.

 

I have a few friends from Alabama with me and we have a number of others who were with us last week, but we have with us Willie Kirk, past president of Local 52, United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters.

 

Well, I want to tell you something. After November 5, you anarchists are through in this country. I can tell you that. Yes, youd better have your say now, because you are going to be through after November 5, I can assure you that.

 

I have also with me W.C. Williamson, business manager of Local 52, UAPP, Montgomery, Alabama, and R.H. Low, president of the Mobile Building and Construction Trades Council and business manager of Local 653 Operating Engineers.

And you came for trouble, you sure got it.

 

And we have R.H. Bob Low, president of the MBC We why dont you come down after I get through and Ill autograph your sandals for you, you know?

 

And Charlie Ryan, recording secretary of the Steam Fitters Local 818, New York City. We have been endorsed in Alabama by nearly every local in our state: textiles workers, paper workers, steel workers, rubber workers, you name it. Weve been

endorsed by the working people of our state.

 

Regardless of what they might say, your national leaders, my wife carried every labor box in 1966, when she ran for governor of Alabama in the primary and the general election. And I also was endorsed by labor when I was elected governor in 1962.

 

Now, if you fellows will I can drown listen if youll sit down, ladies and gentlemen, I can drown that crowd out. If youll just sit down, Ill drown em out that all he needs is a good haircut. If hell go to the barbershop, I think they can cure him. So all you newsmen look up this way now. Heres the main event. Ive been wanting to fight the main event a long time in Madison Square Garden, so here we are. Listen, thats just a preliminary match up there. This is the main bout right here. So let me say again as I said a moment ago, that we have had the support of the working people of our state. Alabamas a large industrial state, and you could not be elected governor without the support of people in organized labor.

 

Let me also say this about race, since Im here in the state of New York, and Im always asked the question. I am very grateful for the fact that in 1966 my wife received more black votes in Alabama than did either one of her opponents. We are proud to say that they support us now in this race for the presidency, and we would like to have the support of people of all races, colors, creeds, religions, and national origins in the state of New York.

 

Our system is under attack: the property system, the free enterprise system, and local government. Anarchy prevails today in the streets of the large cities of our country, making it unsafe for you to even go to a political rally here in Madison Square Garden, and that is a sad commentary. Both national parties in the last number of years have kowtowed to every anarchist that has roamed the streets. I want to say before I start on this any longer, that Im not talking about race. The overwhelming majority of all races in this country are against the breakdown of law and order as much as those who are assembled here tonight. Its a few anarchists, a few activists, a few militants, a few revolutionaries, and a few Communists. But your day, of course, is going to be over soon. The American people are not going to stand by and see the security of our nation imperiled, and theyre not going to stand by and see this nation destroyed, I can assure you that.

 

The liberals and the left-wingers in both national parties have brought us to the domestic mess we are in now. And also this foreign mess we are in.

 

You need to read the book How to Behave in a Crowd. You really dont know how to behave in a crowd, do you?

 

Yes, the liberals and left-wingers in both parties have brought us to the domestic mess we are in also to the foreign policy mess we find our nation involved in at the present time, personified by the no-win war in Southeast Asia.

 

Now what are some of the things we are going to do when we become president? We are going to turn back to you, the people of the states, the right to control our domestic institutions. Today you cannot even go to the school systems of the large cities of our country without fear. This is a sad day when in the greatest city in the world, there is fear not only in Madison Square Garden, but in every school building in the state of New York, and especially in the City of New York. Why has the leadership of both national parties kowtowed to this group of anarchists that make it unsafe for your child and for your family? I dont understand it. But I can assure you of this that theres not ten cents worth of difference with what the national parties say other than our party. Recently they say most of the same things we say. I remember six years ago when this anarchy movement started, Mr. Nixon said: Its a great movement, and Mr. Humphrey said, Its a great movement. Now when they try to speak and are heckled down, they stand up and say: weve got to have some law and order in this country. They ought to give you law and order back for nothing, because they have helped to take it away from you, along with the Supreme Court of our country thats made up of Republicans and Democrats.

 

Its costing the taxpayers of New York and the other states in the union almost a half billion dollars to supervise the schools, hospitals, seniority and apprenticeship lists of labor unions, and businesses. Every year on the federal level we have passed a law that would jail you without a trial by jury about the sale of your own property. Mr. Nixon and Mr. Humphrey, both three or four weeks ago, called for the passage of a bill on the federal level that would require you to sell or lease your own property to whomsoever they thought you ought to least it to. I say that when Mr. Nixon and Mr. Humphrey succumb to the blackmail of a few anarchists in the streets who said were going to destroy this country if you do not destroy that adage that a mans home is his castle, they are not fit to lead the American people during the next four years in our country. When I become your president, I am going to ask that congress repeal this so-called open occupancy law and were going to, within the law, turn back to the people of every state their public school system. Not one dime of your federal money is going to be used to bus anybody any place that you dont want them to be bussed in New York or any other state.

 

Yes, the theoreticians and the pseudo-intellectuals have just about destroyed not only local government but the school systems of our country. Thats all right. Let the police handle it. So let us talk about law and order. We dont have to talk about it much up here. You understand what Im talking about in, of course, the City of New York, but lets talk about it.

 

Yes, the pseudo-intellectuals and the theoreticians and some professors and some newspaper editors and some judges and some preachers have looked down their nose long enough at the average man on the street: the pipe-fitter, the communications worker, the fireman, the policeman, the barber, the white collar worker, and said we must write you a guideline about when you go to bed at night and when you get up in the morning. But here are more of us than there are of them because the average citizen of New York and of Alabama and of the other states of our union are tired of guidelines being written, telling them when to go to bed at night and when to get up in the morning.

 

Im talking about law and order. The Supreme Court of our country has hand-cuffed the police, and tonight if you walk out of this building and are knocked in the head, the person who knocks you in the head is out of jail before you get in the hospital, and on Monday morning, theyll try a policeman about it. I can say Im going to give the total support of the presidency to the policemen and the firemen in this country, and Im going to say, you enforce the law and you make it safe on the streets, and the president of the United States will stand with you. My election as president is going to put some backbone in the backs of some mayors and governors I know through the length and breadth of this country.

 

You had better be thankful for the police and the firemen of this country. If it were not for them, you couldnt even ride in the streets, much less walk in the streets, of our large cities. Yes, the Kerner Commission Report, recently written by Republicans and Democrats, said that you are to blame for the breakdown of law and order, and that the police are to blame. Well, you know, of course, you arent to blame. They said we have a sick society. Well, we dont have any sick society. We have a sick Supreme Court and some sick politicians in Washington, thats whos sick in our country. The Supreme Court of our country has ruled that you cannot even say a simple prayer in a public school, but you can send obscene literature through the mail, and recently they ruled that a Communist can work in a defense plant. But when I become your president, were going to take every Communist out of every defense plant in the United States, I can assure you.