“Buchanan, if you ever hear of a group getting together to stop X, be sure to put your money on X.”

So, Richard Nixon told me half a century ago, after he had been badly burned in just such a futile and failed enterprise.

It was the Cleveland Governors Conference of 1964.

Sen. Barry Goldwater had just defeated Gov. Nelson Rockefeller in the final and decisive winner-take-all primary in California.

As the story is told, Stu Spencer, Rocky’s man in California, had come to his candidate and said, “Governor, I think it’s time to call in the Eastern establishment.”

To which Rocky replied, “You’re looking at it, buddy. I’m all that’s left!”

Rocky was cooked. But then the panicked Republican governors gathered in Cleveland – Rockefeller, George Romney of Michigan, William Scranton of Pennsylvania – to plot a path to deny Goldwater the nomination he and his conservative insurgents had won.

Nixon was invited and, according to Romney, privately urged Romney to get into the race. Nixon denied it.

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