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August 4, 2016 at 9:27 am

C-SPAN Interviews Mattson on Comparison of Trump, Nixon

As reporters, analysts, and scholars continue to debate the underlying logics of this current U.S. presidential elections, historical comparisons have taken center stage. Most recently, Republican nominee Donald Trump claimed that he was inspired by Richard Nixon’s 1968 Republican National Convention (RNC) acceptance speech. The claim echoed a number of circulating opinions about historical parallels concerning the personalities, campaign strategies, and socio-political contexts of this 2016 campaign season with previous ones.

On August 3, 2016, C-Span’s Washington Journal hosted Dr. Kevin Mattson, The Connor Study Professor of Contemporary History at Ohio University’s History Department, to explore the validity of the Nixon-Trump comparison. Mattson discussed a number of issues throughout the interview, most notably whether the Trump campaign can be compared to the Nixon campaign, with particular reference to Trump’s claim of populism and Nixon’s coinage of “the silent majority.” Also important for Mattson was whether 1968 and 2016 represent particular moments of turmoil, and how campaign strategies might seek to paint them as such. The initial interview with host Pedro Echevarria gave way to caller questions and comments to which Mattson responded.

Mattson is an established intellectual and cultural historian of 20th-century United States. He is the author and editor of numerous books, including Just Plain Dick: Richard Nixon’s Checker Speech and the “Rocking, Socking” Elections of 1952 (Bloomsbury, 2013).

Washington Journal as a political interview and call-in series produced and aired by the C-Span network since 1980.

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