August-November 1976: Highlights of Gerald Ford's Campaign Against Jimmy Carter

U.S. National Archives

President Ford with Ronald Reagan at the Republican National Convention in August
On accepting the 1976 Republican Presidential Nomination, President Ford said: "I am honored by your nomination, and I accept it with pride, with gratitude, and with a total will to win a great victory for the American people. We will wage a winning campaign in every region of this country, from the snowy banks of Minnesota to the sandy plains of Georgia. We concede not a single State. We concede not a single vote."   

Remarks by President Ford as he announces to the media his selection of Senator Robert Dole as his running-mate for the 1976 election.

From the the folder "August 19, 1976" in Box 29 of the White House Press Releases at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library.

For the entire document: www.fordlibrarymuseum.gov/library/exhibits/campaign/024800000-001.pdf

Red plastic Gerald R. Ford presidential campaign hat worn by supporters during the 1976 Republican National Convention.

Accession Number: 2007.360.2
Dimensions: 5 x 10 x 12"

Foam, campaign top hat featuring a stars and stripes design and text, “President Ford ’76.” Smaller text reads, “Paid for by President Ford Committee, Rogers C. B. Morton, Chairman, Robert C. Moot, Treasurer.” Worn by Gerald R. Ford’s delegates during the 1976 Republican National Convention.

Accession Number: 2006.16.45
Dimensions: 6" x 9" x 13”

Cary Grant introduces Betty Ford at the 1976 Kansas City, Missouri Republican National convention.

The original documents are located in the Frances K. Pullen Papers at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential
Library.

For the complete remarks: fordlibrarymuseum.gov/library/document/0003/1069133.pdf

White campaign Frisbee brand flying disc with a stars and stripes design at center that reads, “I Flipped my Frisbee over… Ford.” One of 100 identical Frisbees given by the donor to President Gerald R. Ford at the 1976 Republican National Convention.

Accession Number: 1989.348.1
Dimensions: 9.25” diameter

The Final Push to the Presidency
President Ford discussing the campaign against Jimmy Carter while vacationing in Vail, CO. The Vail Strategy resulted from a series of meetings between President Ford and his campaign staff after the Republican National Convention. The strategy formulated focused on how to beat Jimmy Carter in the general election.

Blue binder containing the fifth copy of the August 1, 1976, briefing of the Vail Strategy.

The binder contains typewritten pages, along with two tabs marking “Tab I Strategy Details” and “Tab II Background Papers.”

The original binder is located at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum (Accession Number: 1981.157)

A page addressing campaign history from binders used by President Ford and his campaign team during the post-convention meetings in Vail, Colorado.

The binder's entire contents are here: fordlibrarymuseum.gov/library/exhibits/campaign/014600004-005.pdf

Scanned from "Presidential Campaign - Campaign Strategy Program (3)" in Box 1 of the Dorothy Downton Files at the Gerald R. Ford Library.

Portion of President Ford's daily diary indicating a meeting with members of his campaign strategy team in Vail, Colorado.

For the entire document, visit: catalog.archives.gov/id/4685412

Original located in the "President's Daily Diary Collection" (Box 83) at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential
Library.

Debates with Jimmy Carter
President Ford and Jimmy Carter meet at the Walnut Street Theater in Philadelphia to debate domestic policy. Prior to the third Debate, Communications Director David Gergen advised President Ford to shift his strategy and focus on his "Presidential" experience. He wrote: "We ought to sketch out a vision for the future, but let's back that up with a hard-hitting argument about experience and reliability in the Oval Office."

David Gergen, President Ford's Communication Director, says President Ford should give up on articulating a vision and run on experience in the third and final debate.

From the folder "Gergen, David" in Box 16 of the Michael Raoul-Duval Papers at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library.

For the complete file: fordlibrarymuseum.gov/library/exhibits/campaign/020500256-001.pdf

The first page of briefing materials prepared for President Ford for his debates with Jimmy Carter.

For the remainder of the cards: fordlibrarymuseum.gov/library/document/0010/6283004.pdf

The original documents are located in Box 3 of the "White House Special Files Unit Files" at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library.

A page from the NSC Briefing Book, which provided President Ford with an overview of his policies, and was used prior to the debates with Jimmy Carter.

This section gives insights into Ford's position on terrorism. Other topics include: foreign policy, human rights, secrecy, US/Soviet relations, etc.

For the document in its entirety: fordlibrarymuseum.gov/library/document/0010/1554428.pdf

The Family Campaigns
First Lady Betty Ford introduces her son Steve to a crowd gathered outside a President Ford Committee phone bank in Downey, CA. Betty had her own fans, and was known to them by the name "First Momma."

Notes from Betty Ford's statement to the crowd at the President Ford Committee Phone Bank in Downey, CA.

In it, she introduces her son Steve.

For other versions of the statement, visit: catalog.archives.gov/id/1069257

The original documents are located in Box 2 of the "Frances K. Pullen Papers" at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library.

Blue campaign sticker with white text that reads, “Women for President Ford.” A Bicentennial pin featuring the official Bicentennial logo is attached to the sticker. Made for Gerald R. Ford’s 1976 presidential campaign.

Accession Number: 2010.2.39
Dimensions: 1.25' x 1.75”

On the Stump ... in the South and Beyond
At first the American South was seen as "Carter Country," and not important to Ford's campaign. However, as Ford gained  popularity, advisers Dave Green and Jerry Jones reconsidered. In a memo dated September 24, they wrote: "When originally scheduled, this trip was intended to offset the notion that you were writing off the South. As the momentum has swung in your direction, however, the trip has become more and more an opportunity to score major points in Carter's stronghold --and to test how much emphasis we can place on the South in order to capture states such as Louisiana, Mississippi and even Alabama."

The opening page of President Ford's remarks for radio broadcast on Mutual Radio Network, Cleveland, OH.

For the complete interview, visit: fordlibrarymuseum.gov/library/document/0122/1253112.pdf

The original documents are located in Box 41 of the "President’s Speeches and Statements: Reading Copies" at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library.

Blue and white gingham covered, stuffed elephant with “vote” embroidered in red across the front pocket. Two buttons from Gerald R. Ford’s 1976 presidential campaign are attached, along with a small American flag.

Accession Number: 1988.206
Dimensions: 21" x 12" x 10.5”

The last two pages from President Ford's note cards for a stump speech in Ohio. He campaigned there between visits to Pennsylvania and Indiana.

Note that he may have used the cards in other locations as well.

The original documents are located in Box 41 of the "President’s Speeches and Statements: Reading Copies" at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library.


Ford Concedes the Race
Ford remembered: "Shortly after eleven o'clock [on November 3], I telephoned Carter in Georgia to congratulate him... Then I stepped into the Briefing Room, where reporters had assembled. I wanted to thank the millions of American who had supported me, and I also wanted to read the telegram I sent to the President elect. Unfortunately, my voice was gone., so Betty volunteered to read it for me..."

President Ford's now-famous telegram to Jimmy Carter congratulating him on his election victory.

Because President Ford lost his voice during the last days of the campaign, First Lady Betty Ford read the telegram aloud in the White House Press Room.

Original documents located in Box 6 of the "White House Central Files Subject File" at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library.

A portion of the remarks read by the First Lady conceding the 1976 Presidential election to President-Elect Carter.

For the entire remarks, visit: catalog.archives.gov/id/1253118

The original documents are located in Box 42 of the "President’s Speeches and Statements: Reading
Copies" located at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library.

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