Thursday, May 05, 2016

Cruz and Reagan's 1976 Pattern: Don't Endorse, Campaign or Vote for Trump

Update 2: In the comments section DavidB takes me to task for referencing Bill O'Reilly's Killing Reagan in saying Reagan didn't vote for Gerald Ford. Whether or not O'Reilly is right on that, it is clear that Reagan didn't endorse Ford or campaign for Ford. Further and to the point, Michael Reagan says that Ronald Reagan wouldn't tarnish himself by voting for Donald Trump.

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
Further, neither Ronald nor Nancy Reagan voted for Ford in 1976.
"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)


MAX Redline said...

I think that Ted's following the Reagan approach.

T. D. said...

We'll see. Paul Ryan (in my eyes to his credit) seems to be publicly out there. If Ryan caves, because assuredly Trump will continue to flirt with the minimum wage and won't change on free trade zones, Ryan has put himself at risk and pulled the house down on himself. The Trump people still won't like him and the conservatives won't either.

The Bushes have played it well and early. Making clear they won't endorse Trump, but not fighting him either. The very early nature of their statement helps insulate them. Excellent positioning, especially with people like Dana Perino making the point that Trump has said George W. Bush knew about 9/11, lied about WMD to get into war, and should have been impeached as a war criminal. (

MAX Redline said...

Good points. Personally, I'm not voting for Trump. Never have liked the guy, although he's got Putin's endorsement.

T. D. said...

And don't forget David Duke and Mike Tyson. Then there's Jimmy Carter and Bob Dole. (I didn't want to put them in the same sentence with Duke and Tyson.)

And obviously I'm not voting for Trump either. Besides all the other stuff I've written about, I think we're more likely to lose the Supreme Court if he's elected. No chance at all that Republicans will gain 60% of the Senate even with a Trump win. And the Dems will block every nominee that isn't liberal and have public opinion behind them. If Hillary wins, the Republicans will at least have a chance at blocking Hillary's liberal nominees and forcing her to go center by pointing out she's replacing a conservative.

Anonymous said...

The only place that says Reagan didn't vote for Ford is this garbage and mostly inaccurate "killing Reagan" book.
Please stop spreading things that are not facts.

T. D. said...

DavidB, I noted clearly where the information came from. If you have a problem with it, you need to rebut O'Reilly's information. You haven't done that. Not even a quote from Michael Reagan saying his father did vote for Ford. And it follows the pattern of refusing to endorse Ford or campaign for him which has multiple sources. Please stop spreading things that are not facts.

T. D. said...

Also, please note that Michael Reagan clearly says Ronald Reagan wouldn't have voted for Donald Trump.

"He would not root for Hillary however he would not tarnish himself by voting Trump"