President Gerald R. Ford appeared on the grand stage of the 1976 Republican National Convention to graciously accept the GOP nomination for President on August 19 in Kansas City, Missouri. Pledging to win the campaign in every region of the country, from Minnesota to Georgia “with pride, with gratitude, and with a total will to win a great victory for the American people”, Ford addressed the audience.
Ford proudly stood before the great convention as the first incumbent President since Dwight D. Eisenhower to tell the American people, “America is at peace”. He preached that “tonight I can tell you straight away this Nation is sound, this Nation is secure, this nation is on the mark to full economic recovery and a better quality of life for all Americans”. Believing the issues were on the side of the Republican party, Ford eagerly anticipated going in front of the American people to debate the issues face-to-face with Democratic Presidential Nominee, Gov. Jimmy Carter.
Ford then moved on to bring a cohesive feeling to the convention. He personally addressed Gov. Ronald Reagan, having stated that “from the bottom of my heart, after the scrimmages of the past months, it feels good to have Ron Reagan on the same side of the line”.
After his opening remarks to the crowd, President Ford moved on to pressing talking points. He expressed his respect for the convictions of those who want change in Washington, D.C., as he desires it as well. After 22 years of majority misrule, Ford called for the American people to change the United States Congress. President Ford moved on to thank the convention for choosing such an able American, Senator Bob Dole of Kansas, as his running mate, and stated that “with his help and those who cherish peace, want freedom preserved, prosperity shared, and pride in America, we will win this election”.
With all the positive energy surrounding the event, President Ford did not forget to address his detractors. Though he had been called an unelected and accidental President, he pointed out that he was welcomed and endorsed by an overwhelming majority of Democratic representatives in Congress who certified him fit for the highest office. Having had the experience of becoming Vice President and then President without expecting or seeking either, Ford expressed a special feeling towards both of the offices, not as “prizes to be won, but a duty to be done”. He stated that “it is not the power and glamour of the Presidency to lead me to ask for another four years….. it is the challenge of a job well begun but far from finished”.
President Ford used his record to show how the United States had improved since the time he took office. Having “faced many tough problems, probably making some mistakes” Ford stated that both America and Americans have made an incredible comeback since August 1974. He discussed the 12% inflation which was jeopardizing the future of the economy at the time he took the “helm”. Two years later it had been cut nearly in half, and with confidence restored, payrolls and purchases up. Four Million Americans found new jobs, or returned to the jobs they had lost. In 1976 more men and women had jobs than ever before in the history of the United States, and the country was on its way to a “full surge of sound recovery to full prosperity”.
Ford reiterated his record of performance, not just policy, and called it one that people will support come the election day on November 2, 1976. He pledged that for the next four years he would hold the steady course the country had begun, to continue winning the fight against inflation, diminish the dead weight of bureaucracy, submit a balanced budget by 1978, improve quality of life for all Americans, restore neighborhood pride by not abandoning our neighborhoods, and to return our children’s education to parents and local school authorities. He also called for the “party of Lincoln to remain the party of equal rights“. He appealed also for the creation a tax structure fair for all citizens as well as to ensuring the safety of Social Security, improvement to the Medicare system, and to “build an America where people feel rich in spirit as well as worldly goods, where people feel proud of themselves and their country”.
President Ford concluded his address by predicating that “the American people are going to say that night (November 2, 1976), Jerry, you’ve done a great job, keep right on doing it”.