1976 Republican National Convention Acceptance Speech
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 stated that “the American people have a right to know first hand exactly where both of us stand” and expressed his gratitude to those who had stood beside him in winning the GOP nomination of the party whose cause he served all his adult life.
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”. Ford spoke not of a future Republican victory, but of a victory of the American people. He used the overwhelming spirit of Americans in July of 1976 as the country celebrated its Bi-Centennial as a time where citizens “saw again the pioneer vision of our Revolutionary founders and immigrant ancestors” who had the “vision of free men and free women enjoying limited government and unlimited opportunity”.
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 glamor 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”.
Ford reflected back to the day he took the Oath of Office on August 9, 1974 when he placed his hand on the bible which his wife Betty held. It was then he stated to his fellow Americans “ our long national nightmare is over”. Ford took office at an hour in our history that “ troubled our minds and tore at our hearts”. A time where “anger and hatred had risen to dangerous levels dividing friends and families”. The political order had become polarized and our governmental system was closer to stalemate than any time since Lincoln took his oath. The economy was in the throws of a “runaway inflation” going “ headlong into the worst recession since Franklin Roosevelt took the oath”. Ford, true to his reputation for humility told the American people at that time that he was “acutely aware that he had not been chosen President by their ballots, but asked Americans to confirm him with their prayers.”
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 pointed out that he stood up and vetoed Congress 55 times during his two years in office, and of those 45 stuck. Those veto’s saved American taxpayers billions of dollars. Ford also called for a permanent tax cut and spending reductions to “stimulate the economy and relieve the hard pressed middle income families“ .
Ford addressed rampant mistrust amongst Americans regarding elected officials. He stated that “two years ago people had lost faith in the highest elected officials”. Ford’s open, candid, and forthright administration helped to ease those tensions as he believed that “truth is the glue that holds not only government, but civilization itself together”. Having demanded honesty, decency and integrity from everyone in the executive branch, Ford called for the same in the Congress.
Foreign policy was also addressed by President Ford. He impressed his steadfast dedication to seek peace for all nations, and was proud to state that “not a single American is as was with anyone on the face of this earth tonight”. He spoke of sound relations between Eastern Europe, Japan, and China, as well as the trust which Egypt and Israel had placed in the United States which resulted in historic steps that promised a just settlement for all of the Middle East. Ford is proud to state that the United States was called the confident leader of the free world. He stated that “no one questions our (U.S) dedication to peace, but no one doubts our willingness to use our strength when our vital interests are at stake”. He called for an up to date military that will keep America secure for decades, calling a strong military posture the “best insurance for peace”.
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”.