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From the Archives: Sen. Hubert Humphrey’s space shuttle campaign stop in Downey

From the Archives: Sen. Hubert Humphrey’s space shuttle campaign stop in Downey
June 5, 1972: Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey inspects a mockup of the engine section of a space shuttle during a visit to a North American Rockwell plant in Downey. (John Malmin / Los Angeles Times Archives / UCLA)

In 1972, North American Rockwell built a full-scale wooden mockup of the proposed space shuttle. Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey toured the plant and mockup during a campaign stop.

Humphrey, running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, reminded workers that he was protecting their jobs by backing the space shuttle program. He claimed candidate Sen. George S. McGovern was against the NASA program.

Times political writer Carl Greenberg reported in a June 6, 1972, article:

Hubert H. Humphrey made a last-hour whirlwind trip through California's three major population centers Monday during which he:

–Accused Sen. George S. McGovern of not knowing "anything" about the space shuttle program.

–Chided the South Dakotan for avoiding a fourth, televised debate between the two men.

Humphrey began his final day of campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination in California at the North American Rockwell space division plant in Downey.

There he accepted a model of the space shuttle from Mrs. Bobbie Johnson, an engineer, then told workers and plant executives:

"The man I run against voted to take away your jobs–he voted against it (the space shuttle)–because he doesn't know anything about it."

At another point on his tour of North American, the Minnesotan said, "I suggest it might be a good idea for Sen. McGovern to come here and see what's going on."

Humphrey lost the nomination to McGovern, who in turn lost the 1972 election to President Nixon.

The mockup, named “Inspiration,” currently is in storage at the Columbia Memorial Space Center in Downey.

This post was originally published on June 15, 2012.

Nov. 1978: Tour of Rockwell Plant in Downey, CA where parts of Apollo and Space Shuttles built.
November 1978: Mockup of the space shuttle on display at a Rockwell plant in Downey. Scott Harrison / Los Angeles Times
space shuttle mockup
June 13, 2012: Tom Messmer, senior vice president of Downey Studios, the front of rocket nozzles of space shuttle mockup. Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

See more from the Los Angeles Times archives here

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