For Republicans, Contested 1976 Convention Looms Over 2016 Race

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tags: election 2016, Reagan, 1976 Convention



Donald J. Trump’s dominance in the polls, combined with a cluster of second-place candidates looking to topple him, has Republicans thinking their convention next summer could be a nerve-racking get-together reminiscent of 1976.

That was the year Ronald Reagan rattled insiders with his insurgent campaign against President Gerald R. Ford, with party members arriving at the convention in Kansas City, Mo., without a clear nominee. Backroom deals and delegate swapping secured the nomination for Ford but left him bruised going into the general election, which he lost to Jimmy Carter.

Forty years later, the dynamics are somewhat different, but Republican fears are the same. Memos have been circulated about how down-ballot candidates should campaign in the event that Mr. Trump is the nominee, and party elders gathered this week to discuss how a floor fight could play out if the billionaire businessman’s gravity-defying poll numbers propel him through the nominating contests.




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