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The longest shot Miami Beach Sissy Farenthold’s career has been equal parts luck, integrity and the political smarts to take advantage of a good thing when it comes along. All of her races have been long shots, but, to date, the vice presidency has been the longest shot of all. It all started in Texas July 7 when three Baylor students began circulating a petition touting Farenthold as the best of all possible running mates for George McGovern. Upon hearing the news, the draftee fell victim to rare and prolonged laughter. “Poor George,” she said, gasping to regain control of her usually somber faculties. Historians may someday quibble over which George the first female nominated for the vice presidency had reference to. Neither George the presidential candidate nor George the husband were particularly taken with the campaign. But others were. Drue Pollan, Bob Bass and Larry Patty, chairman, secretary and treasurer, respectively, of the Farenthold for Vice -President Committee, proceeded to Miami Beach, where they set up headquarters in Flamingo Park. It was, perhaps, the first national campaign since Alexander Graham Bell reached voting age to be conducted without a telephone. FARENTHOLD, OF COURSE, was complimented by the Baylor Brain Trust’s boomlet, but she was also a little embarrassed by their efforts. Bernard Rapoport, the fundraiser and financier from Waco, was present during the candidate’s first meeting with her devoted committee, and he shared none of Sissy’s reluctance. Soon the irrepressible B. was bounding up and down 12 flights of the Doral, the anointed McGovern hotel where the elevators were on the fritz. The Brain Trust gained a telephone, a hotel room and access to some of McGovern’s closest advisers. John Kenneth Galbraith, the Harvard economist who loves all things anti-Lyndon, became the godfather of the boomlet. He ambled around the convention floor showing everyone he could collar a telegram from Sam Houston Johnson, LBJ’s brother, endorsing the Farenthold veepency. During the first three days of the convention, Sissy remained aloof from the campaign, but she was getting angry. George McGovern was her candidate, had been since January of 1971, but he was running the convention like Ben Barnes ran the Texas Senate. Nobody did anything without his approval. Women got screwed on the South Carolina challenge and then again on the abortion plank. McGovern failed even to meet with the chicano 4 The Texas Observer The candidate caucus, an omission Farenthold thought inexcusable. “I was irritated,” she recalled later. The campaign came to life at 1 p.m. Thursday, the day McGovern’s running mate was to be selected. That’s when Gloria Steinem called to say Sissy had been endorsed by the National Women’s Political Caucus. A rally was scheduled in front of the Doral at 3:30 p.m. Everyone knew the candidate meant business when she said, “I think I’d better get my hair fixed.” Sissy Farenthold goes to the beauty parlor like Clark Kent slips into a phone booth: neither is messing around. The telephone started ringing non-stop in the Farenthold boiler room. Callers were backed up on the Versailles Hotel switchboard like 707’s over Kennedy International on a foggy day. Liz Carpenter, one ‘of the moderate mainstays of the Women’s Caucus, allowed as how she didn’t want to give advice, but . . . a rally might not be such a good thing . it would be best to play footsie with McGovern . . . she would be available if Sissy wanted to talk. Sam Houston Johnson’s ghostwriter offered his assistance. Galbraith . . . Lowenstein . . . Rapoport . . . Eckhardt. The calls continued. Drue jogged in to say that Gary Hart had said that McGovern had said that Sissy was under quote serious consideration unquote for the nomination. \(How serious is serious? The top 55 perhaps? She wasn’t in the top seven, or Tha Baylor Brain Trust was downstairs monopolizing the Versailles’ pay phones. The press was alerted. Someone named Margo was chastised for abandoning her post at hq. Two thousand Farenthold posters brought from Texas by the committee were dispatched to the Doral. ARALLY, a press conference and then a strategy session were set up for ‘midafternoon. At 3:30 McGovern stole a march by endorsing Tom Eagleton for vice president. The Farenthold troops, massed by the Women’s Caucus, milled around outside Eagleton’s press conference, chanting “We Want Sissy.” Only a few Texas reporters were on hand for the official launching of the Farenthold campaign. Roland Lindsey, capitol bureau chief for UPI in Austin, had made the long trip from the Marco Polo where the Texas delegation was stashed. “Who’s Gloria Steinem?” he asked. The press conference went off without a hitch, but finding a little privacy for Gloria Steinem, Bella Abzug, Betty Friedan and the first female veep proved to be difficult until Steinem happened upon the perfect spot quiet, elegant and off limits to the swarming horde of cameramen who were on their heels. The initial strategy session took place in the Doral’s first floor powder MOM, No time for an organized campaign. Nobody was organized enough for one anyway. Just time enough to round up nominators. Sissy calmly in command. Gloria … cool, delicately boned and brilliant. Bella . the most impressive of the bunch, neither big nor brassy, wearing makeup no less and, of course, the hat. Betty Friedan .. softer than the others, eager to help. Galbraith couldn’t make the nomination after all, Sissy explained. He’d spent the afternoon talking George McGovern out of endorsing Boston Mayor Kevin White. Bob Eckhardt was weaseling. Liz Carpenter didn’t want to. Fannie Lou Hamer was ill but game. Lowenstein was aching to get to the podium. The Doral’s switchboard was jammed, naturally. Steinem raced upstairs \(the Harris of Oklahoma out of the shower and asked him to do the honors. Alas, Tom Eagleton is his seatmate in the Senate. CONVENTION TIME already. The campaigners moved to a caucus room at the auditorium, picking up volunteers as