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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The 1976 Reagan Revolution

Mark Reynolds comments on the book Reagan's Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign that Started It All that was reviewed in the Claremont Institute.

The book, Reagan's Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign that Started It All is a blow by blow account of the campaign to win the GOP nomination for president in 1976. If this type of history is not your bag or if you are looking for something more in the lines of Reagan’s ideology, this book is not it. Although it doesn’t really vet out politic stances, it is a interesting look at a party which before 1976 was pretty much “controlled” by liberals or moderates who thought the way to win elections was by being Democrat-lite.

It is also interesting to note to me since the author, Craig Shirley, and Reagan’s 1976 campaign manager both hail from Syracuse NY my hometown which was once a bastion of republicans/conservatives in an otherwise Blue state. If you are planning to read the book then stop here. Although in my opinion, my further comments will not hurt your enjoyment of the book.

Ford’s campaign under-estimated Reagan throughout the ’76 campaign (as the Dems did in his campaign for Governor of CA and as the Dems would do in ’80 and ’84). At Kansas City (where the 1976 GOP convention was held) Reagan barely lost to Ford yet they continued to not understand Reagan. After Ford won the nomination, it was the plan of the Ford campaign to bring Reagan down to the stage with Ford, Rocky and Dole (and spouses). They figured they would put Reagan on the spot, he’d say a few things about losing and that would be that. Then they assumed Reagan would be forgotten or maybe even embarrass himself by giving a speech without notes. There was no love lost after this campaign. Ford waved for Ron and Nancy to come down, Reagan waved him off. Ford kept insisting. Finally Reagan comes down steps up to the microphone and electrified the crowd.

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