Pinback button promoting Hubert Humphrey for president and Robert Kennedy for vice president, 1968. Emress Specialty Co., New York.
President Johnson's surprise announcement that he would not seek reelection in 1968 left the race for the Democratic nomination wide open. The contenders were Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy, whose strength in the primaries had prompted Johnson's withdrawal; Vice President Hubert Humphrey; and New York Senator Robert Kennedy, brother of the martyred president, whose surge in the late spring primaries seemed unstoppable. A win in California would put Kennedy in control of the largest bloc of delegates, but Humphrey still had the inside trackŸ??the backing of labor, urban bosses, and the tacit support of the White House.
A group of centrist Democrats, hoping to avoid a bruising convention battle, put forward the idea of a Humphrey-Kennedy ticket. Some speculated that the two camps were already negotiating behind the scenes. Whether such a coalition was in the offing we shall never know, for Kennedy was felled by an assassin as he left his victory celebration the night of the California primary. Humphrey emerged as the nominee (despite a revolt by the McCarthyites) and would narrowly lose to Richard Nixon in November.
We are not aware of any other pinbacks from 1968 promoting a Humphrey-Kennedy dream ticket. This one never made it into circulation, having been found in an unopened carton when the Emress warehouse was sold in the late 1990s.