Seventy-Five Conservatives Walk Out Of Young Republic an Mock Convention
About 75 delegates, many of them cursing Harvard's name, walked out of a state-wide College Young Republican mock convention in Lowell Lecture Hall Saturday over alleged procedural irregularities.
The Harvard Republican Club organized and ran the event, which drew a total of 200 delegates from some 15 campus YR groups.
The walkout climaxed an all-day struggle between evenly divided party liberals and conservatives. The conservative faction left when it appeared that Richard Nixon, their candidate for the presidential nomination, was going to lose, Irwin Gains, program director of the Harvard Republican Club, said.
But John Riley, chairman of the College Caucus of Massachusetts Republicans and a student at Boston College, stated afterwards that the walk-out was "not the result of intraparty fighting."
Riley, ranking college YR in the state and a delegate who did not walk out, blamed the tumultuous finish upon a "procedural quarrel against certain Harvard individuals' handling of the convention."
The trouble exploded shortly after the third ballot of the presidential nomination. On that ballot Senator Charles Percy (R-III.), with every liberal delegate uniting behind him, reached his high water mark of 97 votes--2 short of the majority required for the nomination.
Nixon, compromise candidate of the conservatives, had 89 votes on that ballot. But in the caucus following the roll-call, it was understood that the last bloc of conservative delegates holding out for Governor Ronald Reagan had shifted to Nixon, which was expected to give him the nomination.
Before the fourth ballot, however, Jay B. Stephens '68, president of the Harvard Republican Club and a convention chairman, said that two new delegates had been registered and would be allowed to vote. They were Harvard Republicans. Nixon supporters accused the chair of recruiting liberal Harvard delegates "off the street" and demanded a vote to close registration.
Before the question of freezing the number of delegates could come to a vote, however, a new accusation was made which permanently disrupted the gathering.
Peter C. Pierce, president of the Boston University YR's and a Percy backer, rose and challenged the credentials of a crucial bloc of seven conservatives. "They are not dues-paying YR's," Pierce declared. "I know, because they come from B.U. and I am chairman of B.U.'s delegation to this convention. They are members of Young Americans for Freedom [a right wing group]."
There was pandemonium. The liberals, now assured a Percy victory, cheered. Most of the Nixon people walked out. "Harvard -- A pox on your house," one shouted angrily at the chair as he left.
With the conservatives thinned out, the liberals quickly nominated Percy for president and Senator Mark O. Hatfield (R-Ore) for vice-president by acclamation.
Conservatives said they walked out to protest the general manner in which the convention had been run.
Weeks before the convention, members of the executive committee of the Harvard club agreed quite openly to try to control the convention to prevent a possible conservative victory.