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Remembering Reagan's Big Win in Texas
Human Events Online ^ | 1 May 2006 | Gary Hoitsma

Posted on 04/30/2006 9:40:00 PM PDT by Aussie Dasher

“Political leaders here believe that heavy, last-minute campaigning by President Ford has cut substantially into Ronald Reagan’s early lead in Texas, turning tomorrow’s Presidential primary into a cliff hanger that they said was too close to call.”

—The New York Times, April 30, 1976

In the annals of Ronald Reagan’s long and sometimes tortuous road to the White House, there were few days quite as memorable as the day (May 1, 1976)—now some 30 years ago—that Reagan unexpectedly swept all 100 delegates in the Texas.

Republican presidential primary in his 1976 nomination contest with President Gerald Ford. Against all conventional expectations, Reagan’s Texas victory was a blowout of stunning proportions. At the time, it gave an immeasurable burst of energy to the nation’s fledgling conservative movement, while it left America’s liberal anchorman, Walter Cronkite, in virtual delicious disbelief on primary election night.

Coming on the heels of his earlier upset victory in the smaller North Carolina primary following three earlier losses in New Hampshire, Florida and Illinois, Reagan’s Texas win helped propel his campaign through to the August convention in Kansas City. While Ford ultimately won the nomination in 1976, Reagan’s better-than-expected campaign that year laid the indispensable groundwork for his history-making success in 1980 and all that followed during the eight years of the “Reagan Revolution.”

As in most other states in 1976, the Texas Republican Party establishment was fully backing Ford, the incumbent President, while only a relatively small group of dedicated conservatives were backing Reagan. Ford’s campaign had the money, the high profile endorsements, the trappings of incumbency and all the expectations of victory on its side. By contrast, the leaders of the Texas Reagan campaign, Ray Barnhart and Ernie Angelo, had to endure being labeled “extremists” and “right-wing nuts,” while putting together what was truly a classic grassroots organization. Barnhart was a former GOP state representative from outside Houston. Angelo was the mayor of the West Texas oil town of Midland.

The people they recruited to be local and regional campaign leaders and to run for delegate slots under the Reagan banner were in large measure a group of party irregulars, conservatives motivated by their dedication to the patriotic ideals and principals espoused by Reagan. For many, bucking an incumbent Republican President ran against their normally traditional instincts and carried with it severe risks of retribution and ostracism within the party ranks assuming a Ford victory, which was a pretty good bet at the time. But these were people, like Barnhart and Angelo, who were not much interested in party favors, nor were they seeking jobs or spoils in the wake of any future Republican victory. In short, they were ordinary citizens who cared about America and believed deeply that Reagan had something special to offer.

At the ground level in Texas, conservative Democrats, later to be coined “Reagan Democrats,” were a force to be reckoned with. The Reagan campaign appealed to them directly with such bread and butter conservative issues as opposing the giveaway of the Panama Canal and pounding home sharp criticisms of the Ford-Kissinger version of détente with the


The American Conservative Union’s independent expenditure campaign weighed in with effective TV and radio ads and a cadre of motivated 20-something YAF-type volunteers and activists, many from outside Texas, spread out across the state to organize campaign activities in each of the state’s 32 congressional districts, where convention delegates were to be apportioned in the primary on system of winner-take-all by district. One day on the campaign trail in San Antonio, Ford didn’t help himself when, in a memorably humorous faux pas, he was offered a Tex-Mex tamale and proceeded to try to bite into it without removing the inedible husk.

By primary election day, the convergence of a growing conservative state electorate with a likeable conservative candidate articulating a powerful conservative message overcame the powers of a formidable incumbent Republican President. Reagan won every congressional district and thus every district delegate.

Barnhart, who was later elected chairman of the Texas Republican Party and then appointed by Reagan in 1981 as federal highway administrator, recalled that he had learned the true measure of Reagan’s character during one incident in that early first hard-fought campaign in Texas. He said he was stunned when Reagan calmly turned down an extraordinary opportunity Barnhart had arranged for the governor to make a cameo scripture-reading appearance at W.A. Criswell’s Sunday worship service at his Baptist Church in Dallas. Criswell was an icon to more than four million Texas Baptists who Barnhart knew would be mightily impressed by a Reagan appearance

“We’re not going to it,” Reagan said. “Not do it?” Barnhart replied. “There isn’t a politician in Texas who wouldn’t cut off his arm for this opportunity.”

“You don’t understand, Ray.” Reagan responded. “My relationship with my God is MY relationship, and we’re not going to abuse it.”

Years later Barnhart recalled, “I knew at that moment there’d never be a man in politics more principled and deserving of respect.”

TOPICS: Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: 1976; presidentreagan; reagan; reaganrevolution; texas; thegreatronaldreagan
God bless The Great Ronald Reagan!

Will we ever see another like him?

1 posted on 04/30/2006 9:40:06 PM PDT by Aussie Dasher
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To: Aussie Dasher

Mike Pence, IMO comes close.

2 posted on 04/30/2006 9:43:08 PM PDT by Extremely Extreme Extremist (FR's most controversial FReeper)
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To: Extremely Extreme Extremist

I hear Pence is pretty good.

He better start leading before the GOP splinters in 200 different directions!

3 posted on 04/30/2006 9:44:28 PM PDT by Aussie Dasher (The Great Ronald Reagan & John Paul II - Heaven's Dream Team!)
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To: Aussie Dasher

OH GOD I hope so AD

I watching PBS show called I remember Television in 1950 guess what they showcase

General Electric theatre starting former Warner bros actor named Ronald Reagan I got misty eye when I saw Ronnie narrated that episode

4 posted on 04/30/2006 9:48:35 PM PDT by SevenofNine (I'd rather hunt with Dick Cheney than ride with Ted Kennedy)
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To: Aussie Dasher
As one of the Texas 100 in 1976 I don't see one on the horizon. I'm not swallowing any of crapola I've heard so far from any potential candidates.

I wish I had a copy of RR's speech he made after his defeat by Ford at the '76 convention. If there had been a re-vote after that speech he would have been prez 4 years earlier.

If anyone knows where I can get a copy of that speech I sure would appreciate a post.
5 posted on 04/30/2006 10:02:09 PM PDT by vic ryan
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To: Aussie Dasher

I wish. See my tag.

6 posted on 04/30/2006 10:13:57 PM PDT by sine_nomine (No more RINO presidents. We need another Reagan.)
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To: vic ryan
>>>>I wish I had a copy of RR's speech he made after his defeat by Ford at the '76 convention. ______________________________________________________________________ Remarks of the Honorable Ronald Reagan

At the 31st Republican National Convention

August 19, 1976

This speech was delivered impromptu at the Republican National Convention at the urging of President Gerald Ford. 798 words

"Thank you very much. Mr. President, Mrs. Ford, Mr. Vice President, Mr. Vice President to be--(Applause and laughter)--the distinguished guests here, and you ladies and gentlemen: I am going to say fellow Republicans here, but also those who are watching from a distance, all of those millions of Democrats and Independents who I know are looking for a cause around which to rally and which I believe we can give them. (Applause)

Mr. President, before you arrived tonight, these wonderful people here when we came in gave Nancy and myself a welcome. That, plus this, and plus your kindness and generosity in honoring us by bringing us down here will give us a memory that will live in our hearts forever. (Applause)

Watching on television these last few nights, and I have seen you also with the warmth that you greeted Nancy, and you also filled my heart with joy when you did that. (Applause)

May I just say some words. There are cynics who say that a party platform is something that no one bothers to read and it doesn't very often amount to much.

Whether it is different this time than it has ever been before, I believe the Republican Party has a platform that is a banner of bold, unmistakable colors, with no pastel shades. (Applause)

We have just heard a call to arms based on that platform, and a call to us to really be successful in communicating and reveal to the American people the difference between this platform and the platform of the opposing party, which is nothing but a revamp and a reissue and a running of a late, late show of the thing that we have been hearing from them for the last 40 years. (Applause)

If I could just take a moment; I had an assignment the other day. Someone asked me to write a letter for a time capsule that is going to be opened in Los Angeles a hundred years from now, on our Tricentennial.

It sounded like an easy assignment. They suggested I write something about the problems and the issues today. I set out to do so, riding down the coast in an automobile, looking at the blue Pacific out on one side and the Santa Ynez Mountains on the other, and I couldn't help but wonder if it was going to be that beautiful a hundred years from now as it was on that summer day.

Then as I tried to write--let your own minds turn to that task. You are going to write for people a hundred years from now, who know all about us. We know nothing about them. We don't know what kind of a world they will be living in.

And suddenly I thought to myself if I write of the problems, they will be the domestic problems the President spoke of here tonight; the challenges confronting us, the erosion of freedom that has taken place under Democratic rule in this country, the invasion of private rights, the controls and restrictions on the vitality of the great free economy that we enjoy. These are our challenges that we must meet.

And then again there is that challenge of which he spoke that we live in a world in which the great powers have poised and aimed at each other horrible missiles of destruction, nuclear weapons that can in a matter of minutes arrive at each other's country and destroy, virtually, the civilized world we live in.

And suddenly it dawned on me, those who would read this letter a hundred years from now will know whether those missiles were fired. They will know whether we met our challenge. Whether they have the freedoms that we have known up until now will depend on what we do here.

Will they look back with appreciation and say, "Thank God for those people in 1976 who headed off that loss of freedom, who kept us now 100 years later free, who kept our world from nuclear destruction"?

And if we failed, they probably won't get to read the letter at all because it spoke of individual freedom, and they won't be allowed to talk of that or read of it.

This is our challenge; and this is why here in this hall tonight, better than we have ever done before, we have got to quit talking to each other and about each other and go out and communicate to the world that we may be fewer in numbers than we have ever been, but we carry the message they are waiting for.

We must go forth from here united, determined that what a great general said a few years ago is true: There is no substitute for victory, Mr. President." (Applause)

7 posted on 04/30/2006 10:17:09 PM PDT by Reagan Man (Secure our borders;punish employers who hire illegals;stop all welfare to illegals)
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To: Reagan Man; All

I just have this feeling that one of the Freepers had it LOL! rack that speech

My dad turn down the change to be 1964 convention day Ronnie was going give speech on Barry Goldwater


8 posted on 04/30/2006 10:28:39 PM PDT by SevenofNine (I'd rather hunt with Dick Cheney than ride with Ted Kennedy)
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To: vic ryan
I have an old TIME Magazine from Nov. 1972 - right after Nixon took 49 states while trouncing McGovern. In one article - after pooh-poohing Nixon's crushing victory by declaring him a "lame duck" because he was now a second term President, they went on to take some guesses as to what would happen in 1976 when Nixon had to retire. Of course, Agnew was at the top of the list, since he was the VP.

But as they went down the list of all prominent GOP pols who might make a run for the White House, and got to Reagan's name, they wasted no time in dismissing a run by him as an impossibility, because it was patently obvious that by 1976 Reagan would be far too old to run for President.

Just obvious, I tell you.

9 posted on 04/30/2006 10:37:45 PM PDT by CardCarryingMember.VastRightWC
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To: Aussie Dasher
“We’re not going to it,” Reagan said. “Not do it?” Barnhart replied. “There isn’t a politician in Texas who wouldn’t cut off his arm for this opportunity.” “You don’t understand, Ray.” Reagan responded. “My relationship with my God is MY relationship, and we’re not going to abuse it.”
There must be other politicians like this. I read "Rough Edges" by James Rogan and I think he's the real deal. Very principled man.
10 posted on 04/30/2006 10:50:10 PM PDT by Rate_Determining_Step (US Military - Draining the Swamp of Terrorism since 2001!)
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To: Aussie Dasher

We will be lucky to see another Ronald Reagan in our lifetime. I am firmly convinced that God put President Reagan, PM Thatcher, Pope John Paul II, Lech Wa³êsa , and German Chancellor Kohl on this Earth and in power at the same time for a Reason. Perhaps never again in our lifetime, will we see a time where at a crucial time the most important leaders in the the important places all came together with such vigor and courage. In many ways, the polices and ambitions of all the above would have failed if one was missing. It was a truly a historic time.

11 posted on 04/30/2006 10:57:48 PM PDT by catholicfreeper
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To: catholicfreeper

You are so right!

12 posted on 04/30/2006 11:02:25 PM PDT by Aussie Dasher (The Great Ronald Reagan & John Paul II - Heaven's Dream Team!)
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To: catholicfreeper
I'd add President Spencer W. Kimball (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) to that list as well.
13 posted on 05/01/2006 1:28:55 AM PDT by Ruth A. (we might as well fight in the first ditch as the last)
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