1976 Republican National Convention

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1976 Republican National Convention
1976 Presidential Election

Ford and Dole
Date(s) August 16 - August 19
City Kansas City, Missouri
Venue Kemper Arena
Keynote speaker Howard Baker
Presidential nominee Gerald R. Ford of Michigan
Vice Presidential nominee Bob Dole of Kansas
1972  ·  1980

The 1976 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 City, Missouri, the convention nominated President Gerald R. Ford for a full term, but only after narrowly defeating a strong challenge from former California Governor Ronald W. Reagan. The convention also nominated Senator Robert J. Dole of Kansas for Vice President, instead of Vice President Nelson Rockefeller. The keynote address was delivered by Tennessee Senator Howard Baker.


One of 100 identical campaign flying disc or "Frisbees" given to President Gerald Ford by his advertising team at the 1976 Republican National Convention.[1]

Going into the convention, Ford had won more primary delegates than Reagan, as well as plurality in popular vote. However, Ford did not have enough to secure the nomination, thus, when 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.

"A Shining City on a Hill". Reagan's impromptu concession speech has been called a "defining moment of the Reagan Revolution."

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. Ford's supporters derisively described the proposed rules change as the "misery loves company" amendment.[citation needed] The proposed rules change was defeated by a vote of 1,180 to 1,069, 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 1,187 votes to 1,070 votes for Reagan (and one for Elliot L. Richardson of Massachusetts). Reagan, after being defeated, endorsed Ford.

President Gerald Ford and his wife Betty at the Convention on August 19, 1976.

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.

Ford selected Kansas Senator Bob Dole as his running-mate in preference to Vice President Nelson Rockefeller; Rockefeller already had announced that he did not wish to be a candidate for Vice President in 1976 during the previous fall.

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

The 1976 Republican National Convention was the last major party convention, as of 2012, where the party's nominee was not decided before the primary process concluded.



Under strict rules passed at the previous convention, Both Ford and Reagan were permitted to have nomination speeches. This was the last time in the 20th century this would happen.

First Ballot Vote for the Presidential Nomination by State Delegation.


Vice Presidential[edit]

With the rules for the nomination for the second spot less restrictive, Sen. Jesse Helms decided to put his name into nomination. Many of Reagan's delegates decided to scatter their votes among dozens of candidates.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ John Jacobs (November 19, 1992). "Ad Executive Tells How Bush "Blew' Election Cites Failure To Come Up With A Coherent Message". San Francisco Examiner. p. A18. 
  2. ^ World Almanac and Book of Facts, 1977

External links[edit]

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