Peter J. Brennan - Support For President Nixon in 1972

Support For President Nixon in 1972

On May 26, 1970 Brennan led a delegation of 22 union leaders to meet with President Nixon and present him with a hardhat. Charles Colson was put in charge of developing a strategy to win union support for Nixon in the 1972 Presidential election. Brennan was identified as a friendly leader of the labor movement for cultivation.

Colson wanted to recruit a senior trade unionist to serve in the Administration. Colson wrote in a memo to H.R. Haldeman "If we can follow through on the good start we have, the labor vote can be ours in 1972." This would be a critical blow to the Democratic nominee for President, as labor was normally an essential part of the Democrat coalition.

Peter Brennan was granted a private audience with President Nixon on Labor Day when 70 labor leaders from across the U.S. were invited to a Labor Day dinner. Shortly after, Governor Rockefeller, Mayor Lindsay and Brennan announced the New York Planning for Training which specified a goal of 800 trainees rather than the 4,000 trainees wanted by Lindsay.

The labor movement was angered in 1971 when the Nixon administration introduced wage controls as part of a package to try to control inflation and suspended the Davis-Bacon Act, providing that construction workers on Federal projects receive union wages. Brennan accused the administration of treating the construction workers as "patsies". Brennan called himself a Democrat, but often supported Republicans for office. Despite the setback on Davis-Bacon, Brennan met with Nixon again in April 1971 and offered to support his bid for re-election in return for the federal government adopting the New York Plan.

Peter Brennan delivered on his word for Nixon in 1972. After a meeting with construction unions in 1972, Nixon wrote in his diary of labor leaders having "character and guts and a bit of patriotism". Labor leadership were also alienated by the Democratic candidate George McGovern and his leftist views on domestic policies. On July 19, the AFL-CIO refused to endorse McGovern as President. George Meany told Nixon in late July that he was going to win in a landslide and that he was not going to waste AFL-CIO money supporting McGovern's candidacy.

Nixon duly won in a landslide, carrying New York easily with the support of the vast majority of building and construction workers in that state, who four years earlier had voted overwhelmingly for Hubert Humphrey. In return for his support, Peter Brennan succeeded in having an audit of the New York Plan deferred until after the election.

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