Well, we thought it would never come -- the 1980 Democratic National Convention. The big question is: How do the Democrats top the suspense and thrills of the Republican Convention in Detroit?
I believe I have a scenario that would do it.
We're into the third day of the convention in Madison Square Garden. Every Carter and Kennedy delegate has been interviewed four times.
We have heard from every Democratic mayor and governor in the country. But what do we do on Wednesday night?
Here is my plan. Teddy Kennedy appears on Walter Cronkite's show at 7:30. Walter says, "Senator, would you consider being President Carter's vice presidential candidate if it was offered to you?"
Teddy says, "I did not come here to be the vice president."
"But if President Carter said he wanted you to be his VP, would you take it?"
"Only under certain conditions."
President Carter and his staff are watching all this in their headquarters suite.
Ham Jordan says excitedly, "He sounds like he'll take it!"
Jody Powell says, "It's the ticket we've always dreamed of. We can't pass up the opportunity. Kennedy has actually committed himself on the Cronkite show. He can't go back on it now."
President Carter says, "Start the negotiations right away. Ham, call up the Kennedy people and tell them we're ready to deal."
Ham calls up the Kennedy suite. "Who is representing your side? You're kidding!" Ham holds his hand over the mouthpiece. "They say they want Henry Kissinger to act as their go-between. They're playing hard ball."
"We have no choice," Mr. Carter says. "Tell Kissinger to send up the demands.
In 10 minutes someone slips a piece of paper under the door. Ham reads it.
"Teddy wants the large desk in the Oval Office, exclusive use of the Rose. Garden, the title of commander in chief of the armed forces, power to make all cabinet appointments, as well as the right to select the next four Supreme Court justices."
"Can we do that legally?" President Carter says.
Jody says, "I'll check it out."
In the meantime Dan Rather had discovered that Teddy's Secret Servicemen are ejecting all members of the Mondale family from the VIP boxes. He tells Walter that this confirms a deal has been struck between Carter and Kennedy.
The Chicago Sun-Times comes out with a banner headline: "It's Carter and Kennedy." The entire Garden is in an uproar.
But behind the scenes there is still a lot of tough negotiating going on. Kissinger says that Teddy insists on using Camp David on weekends, and Carter can only fly in Air Force One when no one from the Kennedy family wants the plane.
All the demands seem reasonable as far as the Carter people are concerned. But then Kissinger throws one more in. He says that he wants to be secretary of State, Defense and the Treasury -- all at the same time. The Carter people decide it's too much to give and they call up Cronkite to tell him the deal is off. The Mondale family members are permitted to take their seats in the VIP section again and one of the most exciting nights in American political history draws to a close.