Skip to comments.I am paying for this microphone, Mr. Breen!
Posted on 06/05/2011 6:09:44 AM PDT by raccoonradio
Great story I came across again today. Reminds me why Reagan is one of my heroes.
How declaring Im paying for this microphone helped Ronald Reagan win a key primary
Ronald Reagan was the underdog.
He had been narrowly edged out by George Bush in the Iowa caucuses a few weeks before. Now Bush, a former UN ambassador, CIA director, and Texas congressman, was the clear frontrunner for the 1980 Republican presidential nomination. In fact, Bush had publicly declared that Big Mo momentum was on his side.
Reagan and his staff knew that if he lost in New Hampshire, it could mean the end of his campaign. They retooled their strategy and redoubled their efforts in the Granite State.
But the key to victory would turn out to be a powerful, emotional moment no one could have scripted.
Thanks to your support of The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, the full meaning of the moment is still being shared today.
I thought it had been unfair
Many people remember Reagans famous words. But most havent heard the full story of what happened that chilly New Hampshire night.
After Iowa, Bush and Reagan had a clear lead on the other Republican candidates, senators Bob Dole and Howard Baker, congressmen John Anderson and Phil Crane, and former Texas governor John Connally. A local newspaper, The Nashua Telegraph, invited the two frontrunners to a debate. The five others were excluded. This unfairly helped the Ronald Reagan and George Bush campaigns, Bob Dole complained. The Federal Election Commission agreed.
Reagan did too. He offered to split the cost of the debate 50-50 with the Bush campaign, but they declined. Reagans campaign then paid for the debate itself.
I thought it had been unfair to exclude the other candidates, Reagan later wrote in his autobiography, An American Life. I decided to invite them.
But when four other GOP candidates showed up at the debate (Connally was campaigning elsewhere), Bush campaign manager James Baker (who later became Chief of Staff to Ronald Reagan) refused to let his man participate.
For an uncomfortable few minutes, Reagan and Bush sat silently on stage with Telegraph editor John Breen. The other candidates stood awkwardly behind them. Soon, the audience grew restless.
Wanting to explain, Reagan began to speak. At that, the moderator called to a sound engineer, Turn off Mr. Reagans microphone!
Surprised and offended, Ronald Reagans seldom-seen temper flashed. I am paying for this microphone, Mr. Breen! he snapped.
As Reagan recalled, For some reason, my words hit the audience, whose emotions were already worked up, like a sledgehammer. The crowd roared and just went wild.
I may have won the debate, the primary and the nomination right there.
Indeed, Ronald Reagan dominated the primary, winning 49.6 percent of the votes. Big Mo had shifted his way. A few months later, Reagan easily won the GOP nomination.
A lesson in leadership
It was a dramatic moment in history, but more interesting is what it says about Reagan himself. After all, what provoked Reagans rare flash of frustration was the thought of the other candidates being unfairly excluded, and the moderators attempt to keep the audience from hearing Reagans concerns.
According to Wikipedia, Governor Ronald Reagan would win the 1980 N.H. primary. Runners up were Ambassador George H. W. Bush, Senator Howard H. Baker, Jr., Congressman John B. Anderson, Congressman Philip M. "Phil" Crane, and Senator Bob Dole
I can't tell whether or not Reagan mispronounces Breen's name as "Green" or not
Reagan: "they don't...the fireworks begin"
Moderator: "If we could have the first question for Mr Bush
Reagan: "Now wait you asked me...if you could make an announcement first. Now I..."
Moderator: "Excuse me..."
Reagan:"I asked your permission to make an announcement myself."
Moderator: "Would the sound man please turn off Mr Reagan's microphone"
Shouts of protest from audience.
Reagan stands up and lifts up microphone. "Mr Green"
Moderator: "Would the sound man please..."
Reagan: "I am PAYING for this microphone Mr Green!"
Other candidates, like Bob Dole, Jon Anderson, and I think Howard Baker stand up and applaud. George H.W. Bush just sits there and from what I can tell does not applaud.
A what if: This moment does not occur. Someone else wins the NH primary and goes on to win the nomination, as Reagan fades away.
The GOP candidate, whoever he is, narrowly loses (I know,
far-fetched) to Jimmy Carter. Carter wins a second term
in the fall of 1980.
How would history have been different if this moment had not occurred? Maybe Reagan would have had a similar moment in a later primary, but suppose he did a quick fade and someone else wins the nomination. On election night, the GOP candidate gives a concession speech and a smiling
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter wave to their followers as Carter
prepares to go into his second term.
Thank you for the great post and taking the time to upload the video.
Reagan is the ‘gold standard’ in my mind all others have fallen way way short. Let’s hope this next election season produces some terrific moments like this.
The radical islamic faction would have had a foothold much sooner...
Carter’s stupidity is what we are living with today. It is what ultimately led up to 9/11. Now the muslim marxist in the WH is building on that foothold and again, we will have to live with the results for decades.
We were then and are now looking for BACKBONE!!! You could see that the other candidates were supplicants, in a sense apologizing for their stands, but REAGAN stood up and took command!
Concerning Bush, I voted for him in 1988 and 1992 but did so reluctantly since I consider him part of the establishment which is considered the problem of this country. To be blunt, when Bush mentioned about being a “kinder, gentler nation”, IMHO, it was a jab to President Reagan who didn’t play the game of “to get along, you go along” with the democrats.
> Other candidates, like Bob Dole, Jon Anderson, and I think Howard Baker stand up and applaud. George H.W. Bush just sits there and from what I can tell does not applaud.
Truman was president when I was born. Eisenhower was the first I remember clearly. Of all the presidents in my life, none hold a candle to Reagan. He is clearly the best of the twentieth century; FDR is among the worst.
Now, there you go again..... :-)
You’re welcome; btw someone else had uploaded the video and I found it easily on youtube, but I took the time to do a rough transcription—some can, if they want, load the vid in one window and follow along with the transcription.
We need someone with backbone as I think someone else says on this thread. I saw Carter as a wimp who couldn’t get the hostages home, etc. Reagan _even won the Commiewealth of
Massachusetts_ that fall!
>>The radical islamic faction would have had a foothold much sooner...Carters stupidity is what we are living with today. It is what ultimately led up to 9/11
Indeed. This was in my mind as an 18 yr old voter, voting for first time, just outside of Boston.
Did you watch the vid that RR posted? You can clearly see how Reagan ‘connected’ with all those there that night. Heck, after his “I’m paying for this mircophone Mr Breen” the other candidates looked like they were ready to vote for him as well!
Reagan clearly loved this country and the American people and we knew it. Not like the pontificating asses we’ve had to contend with since Reagan left office. GW had that same connection after 9/11 but before that and a few years after, that seemed to diminish. It never did with Reagan.
Same here. I missed the window (was 17) to vote in the gen during Ford/Carter..but was of age for the gen. During Carter’s disaster I started becoming ‘politically aware’ and could see what his disasterous policies were doing. Anyway...when that day hit, the poll judges couldn’t find me in their books and I told them (in a not too friendly voice) that I was NOT LEAVING until I got to vote...
Do you remember the absolute joy you felt when the results came in? This time around will be the same way...like a breath of fresh air!
..but was of age for the gen..
Didn’t complete it: ..but was of age for the gen during Reagan/Carter.
Bush the First had never won an election except for Congressman. He was a quintessential Yalie insider and held a string of appointed positions, while Reagan had been Gov. of the largest state for 2 terms. Bush then succeeded Reagan because people thought he would continue R's policies, but he proceeded to undo the Reagan Revolution. His son then continued the process, creating a new entitlement program and expanding Federal meddling in education.
No more Bushes! No more Demonrats in drag like Romney!
George Will supported GHW Bush and James Baker, the villains in this debate affair. He is now sabotaging Palin, who is close to being another Reagan.
Thank you for posting this. I had heard of it, but never knew the context. Thanks.
Only if we stop vote fraud.
If there is going to be a debate, every candidate in the race should have a say. The attempt to muzzle them, and himself--when he was paying to assure that fairness--should prompt outrage in anyone.
The others were there because Reagan wanted them to be able to speak their piece.
It is the sad absence of that same sense of fairness today by those from the shoutdown school of political discourse (most, but not all, Liberals) which stymies rational debate.
As for the tactic of shutting up the opposition by shutting them out, well, that's something we see from the current Pres__ent and his cronies.
It's only natural that Reagan's sense of fair play resonated with Americans.
Reagan made a big mistake hiring James Baker to be chief of staff. FWTW.
I’ve wondered many years if the reason we ran like yellow-bellies after the Lebannon barracks bombing was laid at the feet of Mr. Baker.
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