The decision was particularly difficult for the Democrats that year, due to the split in the party over the Vietnam War. On one side, Eugene McCarthy put forward a decidedly anti-war campaign, calling for the immediate withdrawal from the region. On the other side, Hubert H. Humphrey called for a policy more in line with President Lyndon Johnson's policy, which focused on making any reduction of force contigent on concessions extracted in the Paris Peace Talks.
Anti-war demonstrators protested throughout the convention, clashing with police all around the convention center (in the streets and at Grant Park). Mayor Richard J. Daley took a particularly hard line against the protesters, calling for whatever use of force necessary to subdue the crowds. When Abraham Ribicoff delivered a speech nominating George McGovern for President, he infuriated Daley by saying, "with George McGovern as President of the United States, we wouldn't have Gestapo tactics in the streets of Chicago." Some of the more famous protesters, including Abbie Hoffman, Tom Hayden, and Dave Dellinger, were collectively known as the "Chicago Eight" (later "Chicago Seven") as they were charged with conspiracy in connection with the violence. On February 18, 1970 they were found guilty of conspiring to incite riots but the charges were eventually dismissed by an appeals court. The Walker Report to the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence pinned the blame for the violence in the streets on the police, calling it a "police riot."