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1976 Republican National Convention
1976 Presidential Election
Gerald R. Ford, Official White House photograph 1974 (2).jpg Bob Dole, PCCWW photo portrait.JPG
Date(s) August 16 - August 19
City Kansas City, Missouri
Venue Kemper Arena
Presidential Nominee Gerald Ford of Michigan
Vice Presidential Nominee Bob Dole of Kansas
1972  ·  1980

The 1976 National Convention of the Republican Party of the United States met at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri, from August 16 to August 19, 1976. The convention nominated incumbent Gerald Ford for President, but only after narrowly defeating a strong challenge from former California governor Ronald Reagan. The convention also nominated Kansas Senator Robert J. Dole for Vice President, replacing the incumbent V.P., former New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. The keynote address was delivered by Tennessee Senator Howard Baker.

Although Ford had won more primary delegates than Reagan, as well as plurality in popular vote, he did not have enough to secure the nomination, and as the convention opened both candidates were seen as having a chance to win. Because of this, both Ford and Reagan arrived in 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 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 and indirectly blaming him for the April 1975 Fall of Saigon. The pro-Reagan 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 the President himself.


Floor fight

Reagan had promised, if nominated, to name Senator Richard Schweiker of 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.

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. The proposed rules change, however, 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 of Massachusetts).

Reagan endorsed Ford after his defeat, and 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.[1]

Ford selected Kansas Senator 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.


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 Senator Jesse Helms successfully had a "moral foreign policy" plank inserted. In light of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, the 1976 Republican platform became the first to advocate a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution.

The 1976 Republican National Convention was the last major party convention, as of 2008, where the party's nominee was not decided before the primary process concluded.





Vice Presidential


See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ World Almanac and Book of Facts, 1977

External links

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


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