5. Why did Ronald Reagan challange President Ford in the 1976 Republican primaries ?

5. Why did Ronald Reagan challange President Ford in the 1976 Republican primaries ?

Republican Primaries 1976
Ronald Reagan, who opposed the Helsinki Accords, announced his bid for the Republican presidential nomination in the fall of 1975. Hoping to win favor from Reagan supporters, Ford then asked Nelson Rockefeller—who had been chosen in part to help the more conservative Ford win the support of Republican moderates—to withdraw from consideration for the vice presidency in the 1976 campaign, which Rockefeller did. However, the episode angered Republican moderates.
In addition, the move did little to hinder Reagan’s challenge. Reagan, a former motion-picture actor, had an engaging speaking style, but he did not appear to have a focused platform. He criticized the Nixon and Ford administrations and called for a general housecleaning in the federal government. Ford narrowly won the New Hampshire Republican primary in March 1976, but rather than withdrawing from the race, Reagan changed his tactics. He began to hammer at the Ford Administration for its decision to pursue a Panama Canal treaty. Ford argued that such a treaty would prevent another Vietnam War in Latin America, which might occur if the United States were required to defend the canal. Reagan responded by arguing: “We built it, we paid for it, it’s ours, and we are going to keep it!”
Reagan’s stance was a major factor in defeating Ford in the North Carolina and Texas primaries, but Ford’s support in the Republican Party was sufficient. At the 1976 Republican National Convention, Ford narrowly won the nomination, and, on Reagan’s recommendation, chose U.S. Senator Robert Dole of Kansas as his running mate.
Presidential Campaign
Ford’s primary fight with Reagan divided the Republican Party. The Democratic candidate, Jimmy Carter, a former governor of Georgia, held a huge early lead in public opinion polls. Although Carter sometimes changed his stance on issues to meet the political need of the moment, his statement that he would not lie to the American people and his comfortable style before the television cameras appealed to a public disillusioned by government scandal.
Ford’s campaign sputtered from the start, and he never decided on the message he wanted to send to the voters. The campaign also suffered from Ford’s blunder in the second presidential debate. A tired Ford insisted that there were no Soviet troops in Poland; when offered the chance to correct himself, Ford refused to do so. It took almost a week for Ford to issue a clarification, which fed the perception that Ford might not be competent to be president. A record low voter turnout made the 1976 election the closest in decades. Carter won 50.1 percent of the vote to Ford’s 48 percent. In the electoral college, Carter’s margin was the narrowest since 1916, 297 votes to 240.

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