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The 1976 Republican National Convention
Republican National Convention
was a United States political convention of the Republican Party that met from August 16 to August 19, 1976, to select the party's nominee for President. Held in Kemper Arena in Kansas
Kansas
City, Missouri, the convention nominated President Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford
for a full term, but only after narrowly defeating a strong challenge from former California
California
Governor Ronald Reagan. The convention also nominated Senator Robert J. Dole
Robert J. Dole
of Kansas
Kansas
for Vice President, instead of Vice President Nelson Rockefeller. The keynote address was delivered by Tennessee
Tennessee
Senator Howard Baker. Other notable speakers included Minnesota Representative Al Quie, retired Lieutenant Colonel and former Vietnam prisoner of war Raymond Schrump, former Texas
Texas
Governor John Connally, Providence, Rhode Island
Providence, Rhode Island
mayor Vincent Cianci and Michigan
Michigan
Senator Robert P. Griffin. It is the last national convention by either of the two major parties to feature a seriously contested nomination between candidates.

Contents

1 History

1.1 Situation at the opening of the convention 1.2 Richard Schweiker
Richard Schweiker
gambit and the search for an alternative 1.3 Platform and rules votes

2 Nominations 3 Balloting

3.1 Vice Presidential

4 Reagan's concession speech 5 See also 6 References 7 External links

History[edit] The 1976 Republican National Convention
Republican National Convention
was the last major party convention, as of 2018[update], where the party's nominee was not decided before the primary process concluded.

Oversized circular logo mounted on foam used for the 1976 Republican National Convention.

Situation at the opening of the convention[edit] Going into the convention, Ford had won more primary delegates than Reagan, as well as a plurality in popular vote. However, Ford did not have enough delegates to secure the nomination (1,130 delegates were needed to win the presidential nomination), and as the convention opened both candidates were seen as still having a chance to win. Because of this, both Ford and Reagan arrived in Kansas
Kansas
City before the convention opened to woo the remaining uncommitted delegates in an effort to secure the nomination. Reagan benefited from his highly committed delegates, notably "Reagan's Raiders" of the Texas
Texas
delegation. They and other conservative Western and Southern delegates particularly faulted the Ford Administration's foreign policy of détente towards the Soviet Union, criticizing his signing of the Helsinki Accords
Helsinki Accords
and indirectly blaming him for the April 1975 Fall of Saigon. The pro-Reagan Texas
Texas
delegates worked hard to persuade delegates from other states to support Reagan. Ford, meanwhile, used all of the perks and patronage of the presidency to win over wavering delegates, including trips aboard Air Force One and personal meetings with Ford himself. White House Chief of Staff Dick Cheney
Dick Cheney
proved to be an important figure in working to build support among those state delegations on the fence between Ford and Reagan, including the Mississippi delegation. White House political advisor Harry Dent also played a central role in helping President Ford work with the state delegations, who met with Ford and his aides in a Presidential office set up on-site at the convention in Kansas City. Headlines during the Republican convention in Kansas
Kansas
City hinted at the still-simmering debates within the rank-and-file of the Republicans as to whether or not a new party might be formed out of the weaknesses of the Republicans. "Conservatives Seek a New Party if Reagan Loses," The Chicago Tribune's Wednesday, August 18, 1976 headlines told readers during the Kansas
Kansas
City convention, which quoted both White House aides as well as critics in the Republican Party who debated the possibility of a new party emerging out of that year's division in the Republican ranks. Newspaper headlines also told the story of the uncommitted delegates whose "wavering" at the convention made them the focus of both the Ford and the Reagan camps. "New 'Stars' Stealing GOP Show," The Chicago Tribune's Wednesday, August 18, 1976 headlines told readers. Estimates ranged from 93 to as many as 115 delegates uncommitted at the time of the convention. The largest block of uncommitted delegates were from Mississippi and another block were from Illinois' delegation. Wednesday, August 18, 1976 saw the uncommitted delegates break on the 1st ballot for President Gerald Ford, who won the nomination on the 1st roll call of delegates by a vote of 1,187-1,070. Richard Schweiker
Richard Schweiker
gambit and the search for an alternative[edit] Reagan had promised, if nominated, to name Senator Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
as his running mate, in a bid to attract liberals and centrists in the party. This move backfired, however, as many conservatives (such as Senator Jesse Helms) were infuriated by Reagan's choice of the "liberal" Schweiker, while few moderate delegates switched to Reagan. Helms promptly began a movement to draft Conservative Senator James L. Buckley of New York as the presidential nominee. Platform and rules votes[edit] The key vote of the convention occurred when Reagan's managers proposed a rules change that would have required Ford to publicly announce his running mate before the presidential balloting. Reagan's managers hoped that when Ford announced his choice for vice-president, it would anger one of the two factions of the party and thus help Reagan. Ford's supporters derisively described the proposed rules change as the "misery loves company" amendment.[1] The proposed rules change was defeated by a vote of 1180 to 1069, and Ford gained the momentum he needed to win the nomination. The balloting for president was still close, however, as Ford won the nomination with 1187 votes to 1070 votes for Reagan (and one for Elliot L. Richardson
Elliot L. Richardson
of Massachusetts). Conservatives succeeded in inserting several key planks into the party platform, some of which were implicitly critical of the President's own policies.[2] Reagan and North Carolina
North Carolina
Senator Jesse Helms successfully had a "moral foreign policy" plank inserted. In light of the 1973 Roe v. Wade
Roe v. Wade
decision, the 1976 Republican platform became the first to advocate a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution, despite the fact the Roe v. Wade
Roe v. Wade
was a 7-2 decision, and 5 of the 7 (Burger, Stewart, Brennan, Blackmun, and Powell) had been appointed to the Supreme Court by Republican presidents. Reagan's Schweiker gambit having failed, his supporters proposed a modification to Rule 16C, which would have required Ford to announce his choice for Vice President prior to the roll call vote on the presidential nomination. Dubbed the "misery loves company" amendment, it was defeated by the delegates.[3] Nominations[edit] Both Ford and Reagan's names were put into nomination.

Reagan concedes defeat after losing on the first ballot. From left: VP nominee Bob Dole, Nancy Reagan, Ronald Reagan, President Gerald Ford, Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, Susan Ford, Betty Ford.

President Gerald R. Ford from Michigan

Governor Ronald Reagan of California

Balloting[edit] With the outcome not a foregone conclusion, the balloting would be the most exciting it would be for the rest of the 20th century and into the 21st.

First ballot vote for the presidential nomination by state delegations

Republican National Convention
Republican National Convention
Presidential nominee vote, 1976[4]

Candidate Votes Percentage

President Gerald Ford 1,187 52.57%

Ronald Reagan 1,070 47.39%

Elliot Richardson 1 0.04%

Totals 2,258 100.00%

Vice Presidential[edit] While desperately trying to secure enough delegates to be nominated, the President's campaign did not neglect the selection of a running mate, especially with Reagan's Schweiker ploy. Among the many people considered were;

Representative John B. Anderson
John B. Anderson
of Illinois Senator Howard Baker
Howard Baker
of Tennessee Governor Kit Bond
Kit Bond
of Missouri Senator William Brock of Tennessee Senator Edward Brooke
Edward Brooke
of Massachusetts Senator James Buckley of New York CIA Director George H.W. Bush
George H.W. Bush
of Texas Former Secretary of the Treasury
Secretary of the Treasury
John B. Connally
John B. Connally
of Texas Governor Daniel Evans of Washington Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Carla Anderson Hills
Carla Anderson Hills
of Wisconsin Governor James Holshouser
James Holshouser
of North Carolina Former Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird
Melvin Laird
of Wisconsin Senator Charles Mathias
Charles Mathias
of Maryland Senator Charles Percy of Illinois Governor Robert Ray of Iowa Former Governor Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
of California Secretary of Commerce
Secretary of Commerce
Elliot Richardson
Elliot Richardson
of Massachusetts Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller
Nelson A. Rockefeller
of New York Former FBI Director William Ruckelshaus Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
Donald Rumsfeld
of Illinois Former Secretary of the Treasury
Secretary of the Treasury
George Shultz
George Shultz
of New York Secretary of Treasury William E. Simon
William E. Simon
of New Jersey Former Governor William W. Scranton
William W. Scranton
of Pennsylvania Senator Lowell Weicker of Connecticut

Ford selected Kansas
Kansas
Senator Robert J. Dole
Robert J. Dole
as his running-mate in preference to Vice President Nelson Rockefeller; Rockefeller had announced that he did not wish to be a candidate for Vice President in 1976 the previous fall, in no small part because it was believed that Rockefeller was too far to the left to be acceptable to the G.O.P. base. Some of the Reagan delegates, angry with the loss of their candidate, decided to scatter their votes among over 30 people. Jesse Helms' name was put into nomination.[5]

Bob Dole
Bob Dole
– 1,921 (85.04%) Abstaining – 103 (4.56%) Jesse Helms
Jesse Helms
– 103 (4.56%) Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
– 27 (1.20%) Phil Crane
Phil Crane
– 23 (1.02%) John Grady – 19 (0.84%) Louis Frey
Louis Frey
– 9 (0.40%) Anne Armstrong – 6 (0.27%) Howard Baker
Howard Baker
– 6 (0.27%) James L. Buckley – 4 (0.18%) John B. Connally
John B. Connally
– 4 (0.18%) David C. Treen
David C. Treen
– 4 (0.18%) Alan Steelman
Alan Steelman
– 3 (0.13%) Bob Bauman – 2 (0.09%) Bill Brock
Bill Brock
– 2 (0.09%) Paul Laxalt
Paul Laxalt
– 2 (0.09%) Elliot Richardson
Elliot Richardson
– 2 (0.09%) Richard Schweiker
Richard Schweiker
– 2 (0.09%) William E. Simon
William E. Simon
– 2 (0.09%) Jack Wellborn – 2 (0.09%) James Allen – 1 (0.04%) Ray Barnhardt – 1 (0.04%) George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
– 1 (0.04%) Pete Domenici
Pete Domenici
– 1 (0.04%) James B. Edwards
James B. Edwards
– 1 (0.04%) Frank S. Glenn – 1 (0.04%) David Keene
David Keene
– 1 (0.04%) James McClure – 1 (0.04%) Nancy Palm – 1 (0.04%) Donald Rumsfeld
Donald Rumsfeld
– 1 (0.04%) John W. Sears
John W. Sears
– 1 (0.04%) Roger Staubach
Roger Staubach
– 1 (0.04%) Steve Symms – 1 (0.04%)

Reagan's concession speech[edit]

Play media

"Reagan's impromptu concession speech has been called a "defining moment of the Reagan Revolution."

Reagan gave an eloquent and stirring speech that overshadowed Ford's own acceptance address. Some delegates later stated that they left the convention wondering if they had voted for the wrong candidate.[6] A contemporary media account stated that if a motion to reconsider the nomination had been in order, it might have passed.[7] See also[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to 1976 Republican National Convention.

History of the United States Republican Party List of Republican National Conventions U.S. presidential nomination convention 1976 Democratic National Convention United States presidential election, 1976

References[edit]

^ "Instant Replay: How Ford won It", Time Magazine, Monday, Aug. 30, 1976, p 16 ^ World Almanac and Book
Book
of Facts, 1977 ^ https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4603796/1976-republican-convention-day-2-debatevote-rule-16c ^ "US President – R Convention Race – Aug 16, 1976". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2015-08-25.  ^ "US Vice President – R Convention Race – Aug 16, 1976". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2015-08-25.  ^ "Reagan's Impromptu Speech at 1976 GOP Convention". YouTube. 1980-07-17. Retrieved 2015-08-25.  ^ Dickenson, James R. (1976-08-21). "Hearts Are with Reagan". The Times-News. Hendersonville, N.C. Washington Star. p. 2. Retrieved 2015-07-06. 

External links[edit]

Republican Party platform of 1976 at The American Presidency Project Ford nomination acceptance speech for President at RNC (transcript) at The American Presidency Project NPR's "1976: Reagan Takes on a GOP Incumbent" page Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford
Presidential Library's 1976 Republican Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech Video of Ford nomination acceptance speech for President at RNC (via YouTube) Audio of Ford nomination acceptance speech for President at RNC Video of Dole nomination acceptance speech for Vice President at RNC (via YouTube)

Preceded by 1972 Miami Beach, Florida Republican National Conventions Succeeded by 1980 Detroit, Michigan

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