The Goldwater Campaign

Eric Benson, New York Magazine, October 14, 2012.


You weren’t one of Barry Goldwater’s speechwriters. How did you come to write his most famous speech?
For most of the campaign, I was on the payroll for the American Enterprise Institute. And I went to the Republican convention with a group of scholars who were sitting in on the platform committee hearings, just to keep our eyes and ears open and see if there was anything constructive we might have to say. After a meeting where I heard Nelson Rockefeller warn about the dangers of extremism, I wrote a two-paragraph memorandum with the line about extremism in defense of liberty. Somehow that filtered up to Goldwater. Then he said he wanted his speech written around those lines.

New York Magazine