Core Collections on the 1976 Presidential Campaign

September 2004

In 1976 President Ford and former California governor Ronald Reagan contended for the Republican Party's presidential nomination. The outcome remained uncertain even as their contest reached the floor of the convention. Ford won, chose Senator Robert Dole of Kansas as his running mate, and began the presidential election campaign trailing the Carter-Mondale ticket by 29 points in the polls. The final popular and electoral votes were exceedingly close, with the television networks projecting Jimmy Carter as the winner only in the small hours of the morning after election day.

The Gerald R. Ford Library has extensive archival materials open to the public on both the nomination and general election campaigns (view a selection of 1976 campaign documents). A few of the core collections are summarized below, as illustration. Library staff can provide expert assistance at finding material on specific topics.

CHENEY, RICHARD: Files, 1974-77
Cheney was Assistant to the President ("Chief of Staff"). Boxes 14-16 contain weekly progress reports from President Ford Committee chairmen Howard "Bo" Callaway and Rogers Morton, July 1975-July 1976. Boxes 16-19 contain a campaign subject file including letters from Republican leaders giving campaign advice and handwritten notes from Cheney to the President, some of which concern telephone calls to convention delegates.
DOWNTON, DOROTHY: Files, (1972) 1974-77
Downton was Personal Secretary to the President. Her files include a copy of the general election campaign strategy book, a preliminary media plan, an early assessment of PFC operations, and other campaign material.
MORTON, ROGERS C.B.: Files, (1975) 1976
Morton was a White House adviser who became chairman of the President Ford Committee. This collection focuses on the earliest phase of the nomination contest.
The PFC conducted Ford's nomination and presidential election campaigns, and its records span 350 linear feet of shelving. Strengths of this collection include campaign law, finances, advertising, implementation of strategy state-by-state, volunteer operations, and the collection and interpretation of polling data.
In this collection of memos and other documents annotated by the President, boxes 36-39 concern political affairs, especially the campaign.
RAOUL-DUVAL, MICHAEL: Papers and Files, 1974-77
Duval was Special Counsel to the President. In the Duval "Papers," boxes 12-31 all concern the 1976 campaign, including such topics as the California primary, drafting the Republican platform, drafting the general election strategy, and preparations for the Ford-Carter debates. In the Duval "Files," boxes 26-29 have additional material on the drafting of the platform and related matters.
REICHLEY, A. JAMES: Files, 1976 and Research Interviews 1977-81
Reichley was a White House consultant working in Cheney's office. The Reichley "Files" include strategic analyses and long-range observations on the campaign. The Reichley "Interviews" collection includes summaries and notes from his research interviews with numerous 1976 Ford-Dole and 1980 Reagan-Bush campaign figures.
TEETER, ROBERT: Papers, (1967) 1972-77
Teeter directed polling and interpretation for the Nixon campaign in 1972 and the Ford White House and campaign in 1974-76. Detailed polling data comprise the bulk of this large collection. There are also memos to Nixon 1972 campaign officials, interpretative and summary memos to Ford officials, and reports, graphs, and post-election analyses.
VISSER, ROBERT P.: Papers, 1972-1978
Visser was chief legal counsel for the President Ford Committee.  The collection includes his working papers and material that he gathered from other PFC offices for legal and historical reasons.  Major topics include ballot security, campaign travel, delegate selection, federal and state election laws, the Federal Election Commission, campaign finance, insurance, campaign volunteers, Republican National Convention rules, the 1976 Presidential Campaign Liquidation Trust, and Campaign '76 Media Communications, Inc.

This vast, shared filing system for White House staff contains many thousands of pages on the nomination and election campaigns. File categories PL-Political Affairs, SP-Speeches, and TR-Trips are the most prominent file locations for campaign material.
Boxes 1-3 contain memos and briefing materials used by the President in preparation for his debates with Governor Carter.
The White House videotaped, off the air, many copyrighted network news broadcasts about the campaign and election. White House photographers created a rich, uncopyrighted daily record of the Ford presidency in both public events and closed-door meetings. Other White House staff made copyright-free audiotapes of all presidential speeches and press conferences, the press secretary's daily briefings, and occasional other remarks. The President Ford Committee has left an extensive collection of campaign advertising.

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Last Updated: September 29, 2004