In August of 1976, Republicans met in Kansas City’s Kemper Arena to nominate Gerald R. Ford for a presidential term in his own right, after a long and hard-fought battle with Ronald Reagan. It had been a close race, bearing some similarity to what is transpiring in the camp of the Democrats this year; at least in the sense of being a horse race careening toward the wire.
Reagan was in the crowd when President Ford gave his acceptance speech. It was a better than average performance for Ford, who was not known for his eloquence or for being a particularly animated speaker. That evening he was clearly upbeat and savoring his victory and the moment.
Following the address and during the usual post-speech floor demonstration, Mr. Ford went back to the podium and invited Mr. Reagan to the platform. Reagan, at first, didn’t seem to understand, and had a look on his face that would become familiar to Americans a few years later when, as President, he would step off Marine One and walk toward the White House; the thumping of helicopter blades giving him cover for not hearing questions shouted by reporters. But he eventually made his way from his seat in the distance to center stage.
The Great Communicator most commonly read his thoroughly prepared speeches (and was occasionally mocked for this, being called “the ACTING President”), but Mr. Reagan could, in fact, speak eloquently on cue in an impromptu situation. That night in Kansas City is a case in point.
I remember watching this on television and found myself thinking what I suspect millions of others were also wondering: “And, we didn’t nominate this guy, why?”
I felt a little like that last Tuesday night as I listened to Mike Huckabee’s remarks to his supporters telling them that he was dropping out of the race. His generous and eloquent phrases were upbeat and encouraging, and his obvious gift for communication came through loud and clear. He thanked his supporters, as was appropriate. Equally appropriate, in my opinion, is an acknowledgement of gratitude to Mr. Huckabee for a job well done.
So…Thank you, Mr. Huckabee, for conducting a positive and people-centered campaign.
Thank you, Mr. Huckabee, for doing this on a shoestring budget and with a comparatively small staff.
Thank you, Mr. Huckabee, for reminding us that it is possible to be conservative without being spitting mad all the time.
Thank you, Mr. Huckabee, for talking about the unborn and the pro-life issue.
Thank you, Mr. Huckabee, for having the guts to suggest that the IRS should be abolished (do we sense an audit in Mike’s future?).