The Delegate Office coordinated efforts to solicit support for President Ford among uncommitted delegates selected to attend the Republican National Convention. Since the race for the Republican nomination between Ford and Ronald Reagan remained close at the end of the primary season, this effort proved crucial in providing the President with enough votes to receive the nomination.
President Ford's long-time friend and congressional campaign manager John R. "Jack" Stiles, who had served as the field coordinator for the 1960 Nixon presidential campaign, initially headed this effort. Stiles, working as part of the PFC Political Office headed by Stuart Spencer, completed some work in this area prior to his death in an automobile crash in April 1976.
Undersecretary of Commerce James A. Baker assumed the newly created position of PFC Deputy Chairman for Delegate Operations soon after Stiles' death and continued to coordinate this work through the convention. In August 1976, President Ford promoted him to Chairman of the PFC.
Baker's headquarters staff included Jackie Fernald, Pete Roussel, and Pete McPherson. He also recruited eleven regional chairmen, mostly state Republican chairmen or long-time party workers. The regional assignments were:
- Region I - John McKernan - Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts
- Region II - Dick Rosenbaum - New York, New Jersey, Delaware
- Region III - Drew Lewis - Pennsylvania
- Region IV - Harry Dent & Edgar Welden - North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas
- Region V - Tom Wyman - West Virginia, Maryland, District of Columbia, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico
- Region VI - Kent McGough - Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky
- Region VII - Tom Milligan - Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana
- Region VIII - Bill Goodrich - Missouri, Iowa, Tennessee, Kansas, Nebraska
- Region IX - Bob Forsythe - Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota
- Region X - Paul & Nola Haerle - Oregon, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, Idaho, Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, New Mexico, Utah
- Region XI - Tom Stroock - Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, Texas, Oklahoma
In addition to the regional chairmen, Baker made use of PFC staff (especially Political Office regional coordinators), members of Congress, and party officials as sources of information. Where it seemed useful he requested telephone calls to delegates from the President, First Lady, Cabinet members, and members of Congress. Baker also called some delegates himself and solicited their support.
The Delegate Office files provide useful compilations of delegates totals at various points in the campaign, background information on individual delegates, assessments of their convention voting intentions, and reports on telephone calls made to them. They cover the period from May to August 1976, but contain little reflecting the work of Baker or his staff at the Republican National Convention or even from the last week before the convention opened.
The most significant materials are memoranda and correspondence received from various politicians and Republican officials assessing the status of delegations or individual delegates. These assessment were often given confidentially and are quite candid about what tools might be used to sway specific delegates.
Frequently the files contain reports on telephone calls on behalf of the President. Included are records of calls made to delegates by such individuals as Secretary of Commerce Elliot Richardson, Secretary of the Treasury William Simon, Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz, Secretary of the Interior Thomas Kleppe, Senators John Tower and Barry Goldwater, Vice President Rockefeller, John Connally, and PFC Deputy Chairman Elly Peterson.
Baker sent biographical forms to each convention delegate and requested that they fill them out. While most delegates returned the biographical forms, for most states several delegates did not. In addition, the PFC obtained copies of Republican Women's Task Force questionnaires completed by female delegates.
Related Materials (August 1990):
The White House Central Files Subject File includes material on convention delegates in categories PL/Ford and PL 1-1 (Delegates). An important file on earlier aspects of the delegate hunt is the records of the PFC Political Office.
The files of White House Chief of Staff Richard Cheney contain material on delegations visiting the White House and presidential telephone calls to delegates. His assistants Foster Chanock, James Field, and James Reichley also have small amounts of material on delegates in their files, as do Michael Raoul-Duval and Rogers Morton. The Maria Downs Files contain information on the receptions and luncheons for delegations visiting the White House.