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Gustaf
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« Reply #50 on: January 10, 2004, 12:05:00 pm »
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Yes, Korea was the forerunner to Vietnam, and although it wasn't as long as Vietnam (3 years of combat vs. 8 years in Vietnam), the casualties were comparable.

It was frustrating for the American people because it was a "limited" war, when Americans are more suited to all-out war like World War II.

The foreshadowed the period of getting involved in wars in which we fought only to avoid defeat, not to attain victory.  Americans don't do too well with that concept.

Truman was right in concept in Korea, but a good deal of it may have been mishandled in my opinion.  However, the importance of details fades with time, and the big picture is what counts.

I seem to remember that some ambassador gave the Koreans the wrong signal, so they thought they could invade without getting the western powers against them.
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« Reply #51 on: January 10, 2004, 08:34:08 pm »
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I seem to remember that some ambassador gave the Koreans the wrong signal, so they thought they could invade without getting the western powers against them.

Yes, it was Sec. of State Dean Acheson, who gave a speech in January 1950 in which he omitted Korea from the areas he mentioned as vital to American security.  Some have said that this gave the North Koreans, with Russian support, the green light to invade South Korea without fearing American intervention.  It turned out to be a miscalculation on their part, but maybe it could have been prevented if the US had made it clear that it would defend Korea.  But maybe not.
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« Reply #52 on: January 11, 2004, 08:10:19 am »
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I seem to remember that some ambassador gave the Koreans the wrong signal, so they thought they could invade without getting the western powers against them.

Yes, it was Sec. of State Dean Acheson, who gave a speech in January 1950 in which he omitted Korea from the areas he mentioned as vital to American security.  Some have said that this gave the North Koreans, with Russian support, the green light to invade South Korea without fearing American intervention.  It turned out to be a miscalculation on their part, but maybe it could have been prevented if the US had made it clear that it would defend Korea.  But maybe not.

Yes, that was it, thank you. I think the North Koreans were less crazed back then, so the war might well have been avoided.
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« Reply #53 on: January 11, 2004, 08:50:54 am »
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Maybe, maybe not.  It's easy to be a Monday morning quarterback, but we'll never know how much they wre affected by Acheson's omission.

I read an interesting passage once that said that while South Vietnam was collapsing in 1974-75, the North Koreans wanted to take advantage of the situation and invade South Korea, but that the Chinese told them to wait (apparently forever).  Of course, by this time the Chinese had begun their relationship with the United States, and considered the Soviet Union their greatest threat, and didn't want to deal a big setback to the United States.
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« Reply #54 on: January 11, 2004, 09:02:48 am »
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Maybe, maybe not.  It's easy to be a Monday morning quarterback, but we'll never know how much they wre affected by Acheson's omission.

I read an interesting passage once that said that while South Vietnam was collapsing in 1974-75, the North Koreans wanted to take advantage of the situation and invade South Korea, but that the Chinese told them to wait (apparently forever).  Of course, by this time the Chinese had begun their relationship with the United States, and considered the Soviet Union their greatest threat, and didn't want to deal a big setback to the United States.

That's an interesting "what-if". I think it might have been beneficial to the US, you could have fought a "good" war, and helped restore faith after Vietnam much quicker. AND THEN, what would have happened?
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« Reply #55 on: January 11, 2004, 10:48:29 am »
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I'm not sure it would have been seen that way in the US.  I don't think the US was in the mood at that time to engage in another war to protect other people from communism so soon after Vietnam.  Also remember that the Korean War became increasingly unpopular as it dragged on, and it was a huge relief when it ended - in a draw - in 1953.  So I really don't think the US could have produced a great victory over Communism under those circumstances.

We did a slight boost at the time from the Mayaguez incident in May 1975.  Cambodian communists stormed an American ship and took the crew hostage, and the US responded with military force to free the ship.  This was strongly popular with the American people at the time, but then it was only a 3-day operation.  I think it did show the world the the US would not be totally passive, even in the wake of the Vietnam debacle.
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« Reply #56 on: January 11, 2004, 12:29:18 pm »
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I'm not sure it would have been seen that way in the US.  I don't think the US was in the mood at that time to engage in another war to protect other people from communism so soon after Vietnam.  Also remember that the Korean War became increasingly unpopular as it dragged on, and it was a huge relief when it ended - in a draw - in 1953.  So I really don't think the US could have produced a great victory over Communism under those circumstances.

We did a slight boost at the time from the Mayaguez incident in May 1975.  Cambodian communists stormed an American ship and took the crew hostage, and the US responded with military force to free the ship.  This was strongly popular with the American people at the time, but then it was only a 3-day operation.  I think it did show the world the the US would not be totally passive, even in the wake of the Vietnam debacle.

Korea could have been different from Vietnam, but I agree that it could have made everything go to hell, basically, with the domino effect kicking in. Then America and the world could have turned out considerably different, for the worse I think.
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« Reply #57 on: January 12, 2004, 03:34:35 pm »
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I hope the lessons from Korea and Vietnam are these:  you can't fight a war not to win and expect to do so.

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« Reply #58 on: January 13, 2004, 12:36:37 pm »
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I hope the lessons from Korea and Vietnam are these:  you can't fight a war not to win and expect to do so.



There is another lesson as well: a foreign power cannot try and fight a civil war in another country.  
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« Reply #59 on: January 13, 2004, 05:58:26 pm »
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I don't agree.  We could have easily won both wars if the politicians would have let the generals wint he wars.  Truman held McArther back and LBJ was too worried with how the press would play it instead of winnign the war and getting it over with.


I hope the lessons from Korea and Vietnam are these:  you can't fight a war not to win and expect to do so.



There is another lesson as well: a foreign power cannot try and fight a civil war in another country.  
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« Reply #60 on: January 14, 2004, 11:46:35 am »
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I don't agree.  We could have easily won both wars if the politicians would have let the generals wint he wars.  Truman held McArther back and LBJ was too worried with how the press would play it instead of winnign the war and getting it over with.


I hope the lessons from Korea and Vietnam are these:  you can't fight a war not to win and expect to do so.



There is another lesson as well: a foreign power cannot try and fight a civil war in another country.  

Korea yes. Vietnam no. You would have had to kill everyone, millions of civilians to win. It would never have worked. You were essentially a foreign power invading another nation, and the people would have fought you relentlessly. I agree that wasn't very fair, but it's the way it turned out. You could have nuked them, or something similar, but what kind of a win would that have been? Look at the Russian civil war, Chechnya, Kurdistan, there are many examples.  
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« Reply #61 on: January 14, 2004, 11:54:48 am »
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We could have won Vietnam.  Ok this will sound cold but true in war.

LBJ was afraid to bomb strategic targets , where civilian casualties could have been greater.  However when Nixon allowed it they North woke up! they said hey maybe we at least better negotiate instead of sitting in Paris and talking about how long the table is.  

By allowing their supply lines to continue they were allowed to kill many other Americans.  You have to destroy the enemies will to resist in all manners possible.


I don't agree.  We could have easily won both wars if the politicians would have let the generals wint he wars.  Truman held McArther back and LBJ was too worried with how the press would play it instead of winnign the war and getting it over with.


I hope the lessons from Korea and Vietnam are these:  you can't fight a war not to win and expect to do so.



There is another lesson as well: a foreign power cannot try and fight a civil war in another country.  

Korea yes. Vietnam no. You would have had to kill everyone, millions of civilians to win. It would never have worked. You were essentially a foreign power invading another nation, and the people would have fought you relentlessly. I agree that wasn't very fair, but it's the way it turned out. You could have nuked them, or something similar, but what kind of a win would that have been? Look at the Russian civil war, Chechnya, Kurdistan, there are many examples.  
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« Reply #62 on: January 14, 2004, 12:24:49 pm »
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That would have been hard to do, cosidering the fact that you were getting such heavy criticism anyway. There was no logical reason for the war, it would have been hard to explain the extinction so many innocent lives. But look at Afghanistan. The Soviets didn't have to care as much about civilian casualties. They still lost. You have to have Stalin-like ruthlessness to win such a war. You may think that the US had that during the Cold War, but I would like to think that you didn't. And if you had walked down that road, America would not be what it is today. It is extremely hard to totally defeat a regime that is not unpopular at home. And that's what you were trying to do.

We could have won Vietnam.  Ok this will sound cold but true in war.

LBJ was afraid to bomb strategic targets , where civilian casualties could have been greater.  However when Nixon allowed it they North woke up! they said hey maybe we at least better negotiate instead of sitting in Paris and talking about how long the table is.  

By allowing their supply lines to continue they were allowed to kill many other Americans.  You have to destroy the enemies will to resist in all manners possible.


I don't agree.  We could have easily won both wars if the politicians would have let the generals wint he wars.  Truman held McArther back and LBJ was too worried with how the press would play it instead of winnign the war and getting it over with.


I hope the lessons from Korea and Vietnam are these:  you can't fight a war not to win and expect to do so.



There is another lesson as well: a foreign power cannot try and fight a civil war in another country.  

Korea yes. Vietnam no. You would have had to kill everyone, millions of civilians to win. It would never have worked. You were essentially a foreign power invading another nation, and the people would have fought you relentlessly. I agree that wasn't very fair, but it's the way it turned out. You could have nuked them, or something similar, but what kind of a win would that have been? Look at the Russian civil war, Chechnya, Kurdistan, there are many examples.  
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« Reply #63 on: January 17, 2004, 11:02:32 pm »
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Vietnam is not the same thing as Afghanistan.  You may have fallen for the propaganda that the US was looking to impose a government in South Vietnam that nobody wanted.

But there were many people who feared living under the communists, and wanted to fight them.  The whole thing never came together, and it turned out to be a mistake, but it is not equivalent to the Soviet Union seeking to impose a repressive government of its liking on Afghanistan.

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« Reply #64 on: January 18, 2004, 07:09:55 am »
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Vietnam is not the same thing as Afghanistan.  You may have fallen for the propaganda that the US was looking to impose a government in South Vietnam that nobody wanted.

But there were many people who feared living under the communists, and wanted to fight them.  The whole thing never came together, and it turned out to be a mistake, but it is not equivalent to the Soviet Union seeking to impose a repressive government of its liking on Afghanistan.



Well, no, not an axact paralell, but the government in South Vietnam was not very popular, and rightly so. I don't think you were imposing a government the way the Soviets did, that's different, but you were supporting it. I am sure that  there were people willing to fight communism, but the side that's supported by a foreign power always lose legitimacy. Look at the whites in the Russian Civil War. I maintain that in the context of a conventional war where you did not sink to completely inhuman levels, Vietnam was unwinnable.
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« Reply #65 on: January 18, 2004, 08:04:56 am »
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The mistake was in getting so deeply involved.  The North Vietnamese were supported by foreign powers (Soviet Union and China) but they did all their own fighting.  The question should have been, if the North Vietnamese can do their own fighting, with support from their friends, why can't the South Vietnamese do the same?

Part of the problem was the liberal 1960s mentality of creating dependency.  We effectively did the same thing to the South Vietnamese that we did at home to the poor, telling them that the answer to their problems was to accept help from the US government.  It failed in both cases.

Another problem for the South Vietnamese government was that its top echelon was comprise of people who had been loyal to the French, so it allowed the communists to pose as the only true Vietnamese nationalists.

I think a better course of action would have been to offer the South Vietnamese full assistance short of troops, and if they weren't able to hack it against the North Vietnamese alone, then it just wasn't meant to be, and the war would have been lost anyway, as it was.
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« Reply #66 on: January 18, 2004, 08:12:56 am »
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The mistake was in getting so deeply involved.  The North Vietnamese were supported by foreign powers (Soviet Union and China) but they did all their own fighting.  The question should have been, if the North Vietnamese can do their own fighting, with support from their friends, why can't the South Vietnamese do the same?

Part of the problem was the liberal 1960s mentality of creating dependency.  We effectively did the same thing to the South Vietnamese that we did at home to the poor, telling them that the answer to their problems was to accept help from the US government.  It failed in both cases.

Another problem for the South Vietnamese government was that its top echelon was comprise of people who had been loyal to the French, so it allowed the communists to pose as the only true Vietnamese nationalists.

Exactly. That is precisely what I have been trying to say.

I think a better course of action would have been to offer the South Vietnamese full assistance short of troops, and if they weren't able to hack it against the North Vietnamese alone, then it just wasn't meant to be, and the war would have been lost anyway, as it was.

Again, very right. I think the war would still have been lost, but with lesser cost to the US.

Brw, am I the only one to be reminded of "A Fish Called Wanda"? ("IT WAS A TIE!!") Smiley
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« Reply #67 on: January 18, 2004, 08:58:15 am »
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Despite all that I said, I still think it was a terrible human tragedy that the North Vietnamese communists ending up taking over the whole country.

That's why I can never agree with the self-righteous anti-war people who said the war was morally wrong.  A mistake, yes, but it can never be wrong to fight evil -- the question is in how you go about it.  Many of the anti-war people were on the other side, and not only in Vietnam, and I find that unforgivable -- to live in a free society, reap all the benefits of a free society, and effectively support a totalitarian system for others.
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« Reply #68 on: January 18, 2004, 12:42:13 pm »
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Despite all that I said, I still think it was a terrible human tragedy that the North Vietnamese communists ending up taking over the whole country.

That's why I can never agree with the self-righteous anti-war people who said the war was morally wrong.  A mistake, yes, but it can never be wrong to fight evil -- the question is in how you go about it.  Many of the anti-war people were on the other side, and not only in Vietnam, and I find that unforgivable -- to live in a free society, reap all the benefits of a free society, and effectively support a totalitarian system for others.

That is true in general, but I'm not that sure about Vietnam. The South was pretty bad too, but I agree it would probably have been better with a non-communist government. In many other instances, I completely agreee. Like the people who protested against the placing of missiles in Western Europe in the 80s. I despise many of these people for their hypocrisy and naivety.
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« Reply #69 on: January 18, 2004, 05:13:16 pm »
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I was just in Vietnam for a week in December, my second trip.  Whenever I visit that country the first thing that pops into my head is 'the wrong people won'.  The occupation of the South by the North has been just that - an imposed rule by outsiders.  Its a lot like the situation in the US immediately after the civil war.  And there's really no comparison between the old Southern dictatorships and the Communists - socialism is always more disruptive and misery-causing than any rightist dictator could be.

As to whether we could have won the war - of course we could have!  In fact the problem was we hardly fought it, as some have said here.  If the politicians hadn't limited the military, we could have thoroughly destroyed the North.  Equally important would have been raising the stakes with the Russians and Chinese.  I think if we had really scared them into thinking we'd broaden the conflict they would've withdrawn support.
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« Reply #70 on: January 18, 2004, 05:28:18 pm »
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I was just in Vietnam for a week in December, my second trip.  Whenever I visit that country the first thing that pops into my head is 'the wrong people won'.  The occupation of the South by the North has been just that - an imposed rule by outsiders.  Its a lot like the situation in the US immediately after the civil war.  And there's really no comparison between the old Southern dictatorships and the Communists - socialism is always more disruptive and misery-causing than any rightist dictator could be.

As to whether we could have won the war - of course we could have!  In fact the problem was we hardly fought it, as some have said here.  If the politicians hadn't limited the military, we could have thoroughly destroyed the North.  Equally important would have been raising the stakes with the Russians and Chinese.  I think if we had really scared them into thinking we'd broaden the conflict they would've withdrawn support.

Well, if you had destroyed the country, then you might have won. But I shudder at thinking at what kind of a blood bath that would have been. Within the context of civilized behaviour you couldn't have won it.

I don't know about Communists being worse than fascists. What about Hitler? Also, you have to remember that most dictators are pretty much alike, few are ideologcally Communist.
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« Reply #71 on: January 18, 2004, 08:57:13 pm »
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Well, if you had destroyed the country, then you might have won. But I shudder at thinking at what kind of a blood bath that would have been. Within the context of civilized behaviour you couldn't have won it.

I don't know about Communists being worse than fascists. What about Hitler? Also, you have to remember that most dictators are pretty much alike, few are ideologcally Communist.

You really can't compare the South Vietnamese government to a fascist dictatorship.  This is a government that had to endure continuous infiltration and invasion by a hostile power, disloyalty by some portion of its own population, and despite that ran a society that was relatively free and threatened no other country.

There were no boat people fleeing from South Vietnam while the US-backed government was in power, despite the terrible war.  There were no large-scale "re-education" (read:concentration) camps sponsored by the South Vietnamese government, and that government did not kill people by the scores of thousands, as the communists did.  So there is no moral equivalency between the US-backed regime, whatever its imperfections, and the vile communist regime in the north.

The mistake we made was limiting the war to the south.  You must take the war to the enemy; that is a major dictate of war.  Had we brought the war to the north, through invasion and heavy bombing, they may have called off their aggression.  As it was, when Nixon resumed bombing of the north in 1972 in reaction to their massive conventional invasion of the south, it got them to the peace table, although by that time, there was little left to negotiate, as the US had removed nearly all its forces from South Vietnam, and had conceded on its demand that North Vietnam withdraw its forces from South Vietnam.  So it really down to a deal that we would stop the bombing if they returned the POWs and agreed to a "ceasefire" that they had no intention of carrying out, while leaving 300,000 troops in South Vietnam to continue their aggression at the most opportune time.

As I said, I think it would have been better had we never gotten so involved in Vietnam, and had made the south do their own fighting or perish earlier.  But that is hindsight.   I can't accept the idea that there is a moral equivalency between an incompetent and mildly repressive government, operating under unimaginable difficulties, and a brutal totalitarian communist dicatatorship that was willing to murder hundreds of thousands of its own people.
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« Reply #72 on: January 19, 2004, 02:19:03 pm »
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Well, if you had destroyed the country, then you might have won. But I shudder at thinking at what kind of a blood bath that would have been. Within the context of civilized behaviour you couldn't have won it.

I don't know about Communists being worse than fascists. What about Hitler? Also, you have to remember that most dictators are pretty much alike, few are ideologcally Communist.

You really can't compare the South Vietnamese government to a fascist dictatorship.  This is a government that had to endure continuous infiltration and invasion by a hostile power, disloyalty by some portion of its own population, and despite that ran a society that was relatively free and threatened no other country.

There were no boat people fleeing from South Vietnam while the US-backed government was in power, despite the terrible war.  There were no large-scale "re-education" (read:concentration) camps sponsored by the South Vietnamese government, and that government did not kill people by the scores of thousands, as the communists did.  So there is no moral equivalency between the US-backed regime, whatever its imperfections, and the vile communist regime in the north.

The mistake we made was limiting the war to the south.  You must take the war to the enemy; that is a major dictate of war.  Had we brought the war to the north, through invasion and heavy bombing, they may have called off their aggression.  As it was, when Nixon resumed bombing of the north in 1972 in reaction to their massive conventional invasion of the south, it got them to the peace table, although by that time, there was little left to negotiate, as the US had removed nearly all its forces from South Vietnam, and had conceded on its demand that North Vietnam withdraw its forces from South Vietnam.  So it really down to a deal that we would stop the bombing if they returned the POWs and agreed to a "ceasefire" that they had no intention of carrying out, while leaving 300,000 troops in South Vietnam to continue their aggression at the most opportune time.

As I said, I think it would have been better had we never gotten so involved in Vietnam, and had made the south do their own fighting or perish earlier.  But that is hindsight.   I can't accept the idea that there is a moral equivalency between an incompetent and mildly repressive government, operating under unimaginable difficulties, and a brutal totalitarian communist dicatatorship that was willing to murder hundreds of thousands of its own people.

I don't have enough expertise on Vietnam to be sure about these things, but I do seem to recall that the South Vietnam government was rather fascist, at least as the later stages approached, with all these generals. The original government was more of a corrupt feudal aristocracy. No matter what, they were unpopular though, and would have had a hard time winning the war.
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« Reply #73 on: April 09, 2004, 04:59:53 pm »
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It always mystified me that Massachusetts, the only state to vote for McGovern in 1972, voted twice for Ronald Reagan.

Granted, it was generally the weakest state that he carried, receiving just under 41% of the vote in the 3-way 1980 race, and 51% of the vote in 1984.

But it still makes me wonder.  Is it because the Massachusetts liberalism was centered on anti-war views, and that once that issue was removed there was less incentive to vote Democratic?  Any ideas?

Mass. is largly Catholic, economicly liberal, not very pro-war, but not all that socially liberal.  Regan gathered some Catholic anti-abortion votes, and Carter had done poorly.
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« Reply #74 on: April 09, 2004, 06:09:09 pm »
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Carter was a very Southern candidate in '80, he did very poorly in almost all the Northern states, whereas with a 2% shift he would have won the vast majority of Southern states. Also there was the Anderson factor cutting into Carter in NE and the Northwest.
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