|Reagan and Ford at the 1976 Republican Convention|
Ronald Reagan set an interesting pattern in pursuing the nomination in 1976 and with his after convention actions.
Reagan picked a vice-presidential candidate before the convention, Richard Schweiker, to increase his chances of winning against President Gerald Ford. It didn't work, but was an interesting and clever way of changing the campaign dynamic.
Arguably, Cruz did a better job with the tactic in choosing Carly Fiorina before the convention this year. Carly Fiorina is really good enough to be President--smart, accomplished, articulate, charismatic. Schweiker was a sort of run-of-the mill politician. Both pre-convention VP choices had the same outcome. Reagan and Cruz lost.
After losing the nomination, Reagan was induced to give a speech at the convention. Here's what happened:
"I was at that convention and remember President Ford’s acceptance speech.
"It was classic Ford: a little dull and monotone. Ultimately, Reagan was called out of the gallery to address the convention. Some Reagan supporters believe Ford did that in the hope Reagan would embarrass himself by speaking without a script. But Reagan had prepared to address the convention and delivered his acceptance speech. It was couched in the context of where our country should go. It was substantive and vibrant and delivered with the passion Reagan brought to his best speeches. At its conclusion, Reagan endorsed the Republican platform but not Ford.
"The substance of what he did was not missed by anyone. David S. Broder, the highly regarded Post columnist, later wrote that the 1976 Republican convention was unique in political history, because it was the only time the delegates heard two acceptance speeches. Reagan later declined all pleas from Ford to speak on his behalf in key states."
|Trump and Cruz at 2016 debate|
"Stunningly, Ronald Reagan declines to vote for the office of the presidency. He cannot bring himself to cast a ballot for Gerald R. Ford. Neither can Nancy, whose disdain for Betty Ford was clear throughout the Republican convention." (Killing Reagan, O'Reilly and Dugard, p. 115)Of course, Reagan did this to a man much more honorable, decent and accomplished than Donald Trump.
Reagan came back to a stunning win in 1980. Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina and Scott Walker need to pay attention to this pattern.
Update: Neither should they openly oppose Trump. They should campaign for other Republicans and for Republican platform positions, but don't address Trump or his policies specifically.
"However, on this day, Ronald Reagan is not a loyal Republican. He has been bitter since the convention, avoiding showing any overt support for Gerald Ford. Later this afternoon he will write a letter to a supporter in Idaho, stating that he has campaigned for Ford in twenty-five states and sent a million letters to back the president's campaign.
"But this will be disingenuous. Ronald Reagan did not take losing easily. He has refused to appear in public with Gerald Ford or even to be photographed with the president. Reagan's many campaign speeches were pro-Republican, but focused only on politicians who'd endorsed him during the primaries. Worst of all, in the final days of the campaign, at a time when Ford desperately needed Reagan to make a last-minute swing through the South to secure conservative votes, the governor flatly refused." (Killing Reagan, pp. 114-115)