, Michigan
Joe Louis Arena
July 14th - July 17th 1980

Convention Chairperson:
John J Rhodes
Presidential Nominee:
Ronald Reagan of California
Vice Presidential Nominee:
George H.W. Bush of Texas
 
It was a case of third time lucky for former California Governor, Ronald Reagan, who left no stones unturned in his search for the elusive Republican Party presidential nomination after losing out in 1972 and 1976 elections. Unfortunately, it wasn't all smooth sailing for the actor turned politician, as his image of a right wing radical threatened to once again derail his chances.

There was a pervasive mood of moderation that was running across the nation, seen by many as a result of the hostage crisis in Iran the previous year where religious and national extremism reared its ugly head for the first time, up close to the previously sheltered American public. On November 4, 1979, a terrorist group aligned with the Islamic fundamentalist Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, captured 52 Americans station in the US embassy in the Iranian capital of Tehran, as a sign of protest over the American's support of the deposed Shah of Iran.

The news that former president Gerald Ford was considering a bid added to the drama, but in an anti-climax for many Republicans at the time, he decided to stay out the race in the end.

The primaries saw the entrance of ten republicans into the fray, with the most notable being George Bush (former CIA Director and United Nations Ambassador), Senator Bob Dole of Kansas, Senator Howard Baker of Tennessee and Illinois Congressman, John Anderson (Anderson would later run for the presidency under an independent ticket).

After a slow start, Reagan, running on the "Make America Great Again" slogan, pulled ahead of the pack and secured his nomination following his win in the Oregon primary on 20 May 1980. He eventually finished with almost 400 of the 478 delegate votes, and went into the convention with his candidacy for the presidential election practically in the bag.

The 32nd Republican National Convention was held in Detroit's Joe Louis Arena in Michigan from July 14 to July 17 1980. The balloting for the candidacy went as expected and Ronald Reagan collected 1,939 of the 1,994 attendees' votes.

The only question that remained then was Reagan's preference for his running mate. Surprisingly, Ford again came into the picture, and was even quoted stating his openness to the idea, subject to Reagan accepting a few of his terms. Reagan's aides later recounted that there were strong pressures from within the party to accept Ford's conditions and take Ford as his running mate.

However, Reagan apparently felt that accepting Ford's terms would seriously compromise his authority as president and in the end rejected them, but offered Ford the post nevertheless. Ford declined and the stage was set for the appointment of one of the most powerful movers and shakers in Washington, George Bush. Despite their rumored ideological differences, Reagan's need for a credible running mate and Bush's political pragmatism saw their eight-year partnership eventually becoming one of the most successful in the history of the party.

The Republican Party platform for the year highlighted their intent on lowering personal taxes, increasing spending on defense and national security and tackling the welfare mindset that seems to be gaining ground among middle class Americans.

The ensuing presidential election would see Reagan triumphing over his Democrat rival, the incumbent Jimmy Carter, by a landslide, winning 489 out of the 538 electoral votes, gaining 50.7% of the popular votes in the process.



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