Thursday, July 24, 2008

Vice President Schweiker?

In my earlier post regarding vice-presidential nominations, I noted the recent trend that started in 1984, of having presidential nominees announce their choice of running mate before the convention begins.

However, eight years prior to that, a unique pre-convention announcement was made, when a candidate for his party's presidential nomination chose a running-mate, but did not end up being nominated for president.

Ronald Reagan challenged his fellow Republican, President Gerald Ford, in the 1976 presidential primaries. The race was extremely close, but as the convention neared, it became more and more obvious that Ford had just enough of a lead to win the nomination.

In an effort to pry loose some uncommitted delegates from Pennsylvania, and to appeal to moderate delegates nationwide, Reagan announced that, if he won the presidential nomination, he would make Pennsylvania Senator Richard Schweiker his running mate.

Ford won the presidential nomination anyway. The verdict of history is that Reagan's gambit was at best a break-even proposition for him. Schweiker was a remnant of the dying breed of liberal Republicans. Reagan probably lost at least as many delegates on the right as he gained among moderates.

There was some talk of reviving that strategy during this year's contest for the Democratic presidential nomination, which was about as close as the Republicans' 1976 race. However, neither Obama nor Clinton did so.

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