Framework

1980 Republican National Convention

On July 14, 1980, the Republican National Convention convened at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena. Former Gov. Ronald Reagen of California was nominated for president and former congressman George H.W. Bush of Texas for vice president.

During the convention, the possibility of former President Ford being nominated for vice president was discussed by Ford and Reagan. Times Political Writer Richard Bergholz’s story explained:

DETROIT––It was a unique, historic idea––a former President serving as vice president.

“A helluva lot of people, including me, thought Reagan-Ford would have been a dream ticket,” rhapsodized Sen. Paul Laxalt of Nevada, himself a vice presidential contender.

Former President Gerald R. Ford would have become a “deputy president,” a “super-director” of the office of the President.

Ronald Reagan would set policy and Ford would help to see that it was carried out. The set-up would be like the chairman of the board of a giant corporation (Reagan) with a chief executive officer (Ford).

Reagan thought the concept was worth exploring. Ford reluctantly agreed to talk about it.

In the talks, according to a source, Ford sent word that he wanted former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger and former White House economic adviser Alan Greenspan installed in a Reagan administration. Others said the request was never made.

Whatever happened, Reagan was not thrilled with the idea of giving up some long-coveted presidential powers just to get a running mate. And Ford, who had been No. 2 to former President Nixon, had no desire to be just another “ceremonial figurehead” vice president. He wanted some clout.

In the end, the Reagan-Ford ticket failed to fly.

After discussions ended, Reagan selected Bush for his running mate.

In a landslide, the Reagan-Bush ticket won the 1980 presidential election, beating President Carter and Vice President Walter Mondale.

Two Los Angeles Times photographers, Joe Kennedy and Tony Barnard, covered the convention. Film was exposed, developed and prints made. The prints were transmitted back to the Times using portable analog transmitters – the same as used by the wire services. Each transmission took about eight minutes. Many of the images in this photo gallery were scanned from the original prints transmitted from Detroit.

Images from other GOP conventions are in this gallery: Republican national conventions of the past.