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Republican Party (United States) presidential primaries: Wikis

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1972

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Richard Nixon was a popular incumbent. The Vietnam War was winding down and Nixon had achieved détente with China and the Soviet Union. He had challengers but won 1323 of the 1324 delegates on his way to the GOP convention. The sole delegate opposing his reelection was in support of Pete McCloskey, a representative from California, who ran on an anti-Vietnam War platform. The Watergate scandal began in June but interfered with neither the primaries nor the November election.

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1976

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Gerald Ford had become Vice President after the resignation of Vice President Spiro Agnew. Upon the resignation of President Richard Nixon following the Watergate Scandal, Ford became the first President never elected President or Vice-President. This status plus Ford's pardon of Nixon caused politicians in both major parties to view Ford as vulnerable. Ronald Reagan led the conservative wing of the party in condemning Ford's foreign policy in Vietnam, Eastern Europe and Panama. Ford held a lead from the beginning until the North Carolina primary where he was upset by Reagan. Reagan then put together a string of victories that put him back in the race. Ford bounced back in his native Michigan. From there a close battle in the remaining states led to a convention in which Ford held the lead but not the necessary majority. Reagan gambled by announcing he would choose a moderate running mate, alienating conservatives. Ford narrowly won on the first ballot.

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1980

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Ronald Reagan entered the season as the overwhelming favorite to win the nomination. He lost his lead with a strategy of forums, polls and other events. George H. W. Bush used the McGovern/Carter strategy and began to come in first at these events. Bush beat Reagan in the Iowa straw poll in January. Reagan responded by sweeping the South. Although he lost a few more primaries and even came in third in one state, he had the contest won early. He went into the convention with almost all the delegates.

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1984

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The incumbent President Ronald Reagan won all but two of the delegates, who abstained from voting.

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1988

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George H. W. Bush entered the contest as incumbent Vice-President and with the support of sitting President Ronald Reagan. Bush had trouble at first but by the time Super Tuesday was over his campaign's organization and fundraising ability had overwhelmed his opponents. He received all the votes at the convention.

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1992

Patrick J. Buchanan mounted a challenge that was too weak to seriously challenge President George H. W. Bush's try for a second term. However it was strong enough to alter the party platform and push it to the right. Buchanan gave the keynote speech at the convention. Some claim that Bush's support among moderates was damaged by Buchanan's "culture war" speech, however five polls, including from ABC News and the Los Angeles Times show that Bush's poll numbers increased in the days following Buchanan's speech.

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1996

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Bob Dole was the most prominent party leader to run making him the favorite. Pat Buchanan and Steve Forbes scored early victories putting Dole's chances in doubt. Dole then rebounded and won from North and South Dakota to the end, giving him the nomination.

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2000

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George W. Bush entered the race as the favorite. He was the son of a former President and the governor of a big state. John McCain defeated him in New Hampshire and looked like he might get the nomination until South Carolina where he was soundly defeated. McCain won a few more but Bush won the vast majority and easily won the nomination.

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2004

As a popular wartime President, George W. Bush easily fended off challengers and clinched the nomination.

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2008

George W. Bush, the incumbent President, was ineligible to run for a third term due to the Twenty-Second Amendment, and Dick Cheney, the incumbent Vice President, did not seek the office, so the field was wide open for a long period of time. John McCain would win the nomination by pulling away from Mitt Romney during the later primaries.

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