[ing] a revolution, but an unlikely revolution,” said Edwards. He inspired a grassroots movement, bringing in an estimated one million volunteers and their small contributions, changing the way campaigns were financed. The revolution led to the election of Ronald Reagan.
Jack Cox, who was Chief of Staff to Rep. Goldwater, reaffirmed Goldwater’s reputation as a “straight shooter,” that earned Goldwater credibility with the press. Vic Gold, deputy press secretary for the Goldwater for President campaign, said, “We really didn’t lose.” Gold came to the campaign, not only because he agreed with Goldwater’s policies, but because of Goldwater’s “authenticity and directness.” Candidates today are handled, he said, but “Barry Goldwater couldn’t be handled.”
Goldwater’s many personal kindnesses, sometimes to the consternation of aides trying to keep him on a schedule, are legendary and were recalled that evening. Gold related how Goldwater was the only one who regularly visited a Senate colleague, a liberal Democrat, who had cancer.
Distinguished speakers also included first lady of conservative activism, Phyllis Schlafly, who campaigned for Goldwater in 1960 and 1964. Her self-published book about Goldwater, A Choice Not an Echo, sold over 3 million copies and articulated his message to voters. She called the 1964 Republican convention, where most delegates were first-timers, the “most exciting week of my life.” Richard Viguerie recalled getting his start in Young Americans for Freedom in 1960 where he worked on fundraising. A capacity crowd filled Madison Square Garden in 1962 to hear the “star,” Barry Goldwater, speak–at midnight.
Morton Blackwell, the youngest Goldwater delegate, recalled an October 1958 column in Newsweek that led to his serving on the 1963 steering committee. His contribution? “More efficient envelope stuffing.”
Among the dinner speakers were Goldwater’s two sons, Mike Goldwater and Barry Goldwater, Jr. Mike who was active in the 1964 campaign, is the Goldwater historian. Mixing in humor, Barry Goldwater, Jr., recalled the challenges of growing up with a father who was in Washington much of the time. He had prepared to take over the Goldwater clothing business but it was sold his last year of college. He served in Congress for 14 years, saying he saw himself working side by side with his father, but had to go to Washington to do it. He recalled his father’s sayings, such as “if you have friends you are rich.” Looking out over the audience, he said he realized that he was rich.
“It’s great to read about the 1964 campaign,” Grabar added. “There are many good books out there. But it’s special to be among those who volunteered and worked on it. The enthusiasm for the revolution that Goldwater inspired was palpable. What a treat. ‘Viva. Ole!’”