Walter Cronkite is remembered as the "most trusted man in America," and the man who told America that the Vietnam War was not winnable. There's much more to the Vietnam War angle, according to Frank Mankiewicz, vice chairman of Hill & Knowlton.
Cronkite told RFK and Mankiewicz in an off-the-record session that U.S. gains on the battlefield were lost at night. "The people may not want the Viet Cong, but they simply do not want us," said Cronkite. The CBS anchor urged Kennedy to run to "show people there will be a way out of the terrible war."
When advising McGovern, Mankiewicz suggested Cronkite as a running mate. The suggestion went nowhere. Cronkite was never approached because it was thought he would turn down the offer.
Tom Eagleton was picked and then had to leave the ticket when word came that he was hospitalized three times for depression and received electric shock treatments. Nixon slaughtered McGovern in the race.
Decades later, McGovern asked Cronkite if he would have agreed to be his running mate. "I'd have accepted in a minute: anything to help end that dreadful war," replied the newsman.
A McGovern/Cronkite ticket could have beaten Nixon/Agnew. Thousands of lives would have been saved had McGovern offered the No. 2 job to Uncle Walter.