The Chairman's Office Files provide documentation of administrative, fiscal and strategic issues handled by Howard (Bo) Callaway and his immediate staff from the formation of the election committee in June 1975 until Callaway resigned in March 1976. These extant files do not reflect the activities of Roger C.B. Morton, chairman from April to August 1976, and James Baker, chairman during the general election campaign. The only material from the post-Callaway period included in the Chairman's Office Files is a subject file maintained by Edward DeBolt, counsellor to all three chairmen.
President Ford appointed Callaway, secretary of the Army and an active Georgia Republican, as PFC chairman in June 1975. He remained as head of the Committee for eight months until charges that he had abused his office as Army secretary for purposes of private gain resulted in a Justice Department investigation and his resignation. Rogers C.B. Morton left his White House position as counsellor to the President to assume the Committee's leadership until the President won the Republican nomination in August. When Morton stepped aside citing poor health, James Baker replaced him as chairman. Baker, who directed the PFC's delegate office before the convention, served as chairman for the duration of the campaign.
The campaign chairman acted as the chief executive officer of the campaign organization. He kept the President and his staff informed about PFC activities, oversaw the development of a nationwide organization, contributed to strategy development, coordinated fundraising activities, served as a spokesman and representative for the President on campaign matters, acted as liaison with the Republican National Committee, and had responsibility for all major policy, program, personnel and budgetary matters.
Throughout the primary campaign, the President Ford Committee experienced factional strife. The chairman's files document the Committee's slow start with fundraising, several high-level staff resignations over policy differences, problems with White House communication and coordination, and the Reagan challenge. They also provide a record of the Committee's exhaustive early efforts to build a national organization.
The extant files of the Chairman's office, even for this early period, are not complete. They do not include Callaway's weekly written reports to the President, his notes or agendas for high-level campaign meetings, nor do they reflect input he may have had on strategy development. (See section on "Related Material.")
The Callaway series include material accumulated by the chairman and his assistants, Mimi Austin and Judy Harbaugh. The work of Leo Thorsness, another of Callaway's assistants, is not represented in the files. A third series, the DeBolt Subject File, reflects the activities of Edward DeBolt, a Republican political consultant who acted as counsellor to all three chairmen throughout the campaign. DeBolt handled the PFC's special voter groups program, developing appeals to various racial and ethnic groups during the primary campaign. His extensive contacts with these groups, particularly blacks and Hispanics, are reflected in the file. He had miscellaneous administrative duties as well, although these are not as prominent in the file as is the record of his political activity.
Related Materials (as of August 1991):
The White House files of Chief of Staff Richard Cheney reflect aspects of the PFC chairman's work not documented in the Chairman's Office Files. Cheney's Files, for example, include a complete set of weekly reports prepared by Callaway for the President. Callaway recently donated a small collection of personal papers (less than one foot) which reflect various aspects of his activity as chairman. This collection will be processed and made available to researchers soon.
The White House Central Files Subject File (PL - Political Affairs) and the PFC's Political Office File include material on PFC state organizations and delegate monitoring.
For material on appeals to special voter groups during the general election campaign, the researcher should consult the files of People for Ford, the volunteer arm of the PFC.
The Records of the President Ford Committee do not include files accumulated by Rogers C.B. Morton or James Baker during their tenure as chairmen. Portions of the Rogers Morton Papers, housed at the University of Kentucky, provide a record of his work as chairman. The Rogers Morton Files at the Ford Library reflect Morton's political activities as counsellor to the President before he assumed the chairman's post in April 1976. Baker, currently Secretary of State in the Bush administration, has yet to donate his personal papers to an archival repository.