Link Is Forged by Rockefeller and Goldwater

By Rowland Evans and Robert Novak
Monday, August 18, 2008; 12:20 PM

Editor's Note: This column was first published in The Post on May 15, 1963.

Unnoticed by Republican rank-and-filers, Gov. Nelson Rockefeller and Sen. Barry Goldwater have formed a defensive alliance in the subterranean power struggle preoccupying the Republican Party.

Right now, the strange fusion of the leaders of the Party's left and right wings is directed against the presidential boomlet for Michigan's Gov. George Romney. But in a deeper sense the Rockefeller-Goldwater alliance is trying to block both former President Eisenhower and Former Vice President Richard M. Nixon from playing a kingmaker's role behind the scenes.

For more than a year, Rockefeller and Goldwater have been convinced that the Eisenhower-Nixon forces are maneuvering to engineer the nomination for Romney. Rockefeller advised Goldwater in a telephone conversation last spring that he suspected the "National Republican Citizens Committee" advocated by Gen. Eisenhower could turn into a front organization to draft Romney, with Nixon pulling most of the wires.

Now that Rockefeller's remarriage has clipped the wings of his once high-flying candidacy, the draft-Romney drive is moving from speculation to reality.

What's going on here? How do the liberal-leaning Governor of New York and Mr. Conservative from Arizona wind up holding hands?

Part of the answer is found in personalities. Rockefeller and Goldwater hit it off well together.

But more than personalities is at stake here. That ancient Republican family feud between the Party regulars and the volunteers, between the organization and the citizens group, is blooming again.

Though it isn't generally understood, Rockefeller is as staunch a champion of the regular organization as Goldwater. Both campaign as unwashed Republicans, calling for the election of every Republican on the ticket no matter what his ideological leaning.

Naturally enough, then, both Rockefeller and Goldwater were shocked when Romney virtually severed himself from the Michigan Republican Party while wresting the governorship from the Democrats last autumn. But Romney's gossamer theories that "citizen action" is distinctly preferable to Party action score high with Gen. Eisenhower.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company