The Political Office Files document strategic and organizational issues during the primary and general presidential campaigns. The files are particularly valuable for documentation on PFC organizing and campaign activities at the state and local levels. They are less reflective of campaign planning at the national level.
The deputy chairman for political organization (the political director) was responsible for developing and implementing campaign strategy and directing a large and geographically dispersed staff. Bo Callaway appointed Lee Nunn as director of political organization in July 1975. Nunn resigned just three months later citing insurmountable differences with the chairman.
In addition to developing political strategy and developing a nationwide political organization, Spencer and his staff assimilated "intelligence" on competitors' campaigns and delegates, maintained liaison with key Republican leaders throughout the country, monitored state budgets, and oversaw the implementation of national and state campaign plans. An important aspect of the Political Office's early role was assisting in the selection of state PFC executive directors and finance chairmen.
A large portion of the Political Office Files reflect the activities of several key staff who reported directly to Spencer. Norman E. ("Skip") Watts coordinated PFC activities in the 31 states and territories holding primary elections. Edward A. Terrill monitored PFC activities in the remaining 22 states holding conventions for delegate selection. Both Watts and Terrill continued in key Political Office roles in the post-convention period. William Russo joined them at the middle management level during the general campaign. (See attached organizational charts.) An important aspect of Spencer's leadership was his application of professional management techniques to a political campaign organization.
Cognizant of fiscal constraints, the Political Office staff grew quickly in the early months of the primary campaign but rapidly downsized state-by-state in the period following each state's primary election or convention, eliminating paid staff positions and closing campaign headquarters. Soon after Ford's nomination, state headquarters reopened and the staff of the Political Office at national headquarters expanded.
While the staff of the Political Office changed somewhat from the primary to general campaign period, the system of reporting information from the field remained virtually unchanged. State PFC personnel regularly reported to regional coordinators at national headquarters. Spencer and his immediate assistants reviewed synopses prepared by the regional coordinators and reported to the national chairman on state-level activities and progress. Any recommendations by Spencer, Watts, Terrill, and Russo were transmitted back through the chain of command to the PFC state executive director for implementation. With minor modifications, this system remained intact throughout the campaign. These reports appear throughout the Political Office files and provide tremendous detail on regional and state issues and campaign activities.
The extant files of the Political Office are not complete. For example, the files do not include evidence of Spencer's critical role in the development of a campaign plan for the general election. Neither do they document Spencer's role as acting PFC chairman in March 1976. The small portion of the Political Office Files readily identified as Spencer's primarily reflect only his responsibility for developing a national organization.
While Spencer, and possibly Watts, Russo, and Terrill attended White House strategy meetings and meetings of the PFC's Executive and Advisory Committees, the files of the Political Office do not include documentation of their involvement. Nor does the file include high-level communication between the Political Office and members of the White House staff concerning national campaign planning. Additionally, there is little evidence in the files of the close working relationship between the Political Office and the PFC's polling operation headed by Robert Teeter.
Related Materials (as of January 1991):
The White House Central Files Subject File includes material on PFC state organizations and delegate monitoring in various sections of PL-Political Affairs. The files of Chief of Staff Richard Cheney include material on PFC organizational efforts, Political Office personnel, and suggested contacts with delegates. Material reflecting Political Office contact with the White House staff appears in the files of Cheney's assistant, James Field, and Staff Secretary Jerry Jones. Researchers should consult the personal papers of Michael Raoul-Duval and Robert Teeter for discussions of campaign strategy and drafts of Ford's general election campaign plan.