Category Archives: Featured

The Last Time There Was a Contested Convention || ABC News

The Last Time There Was a Contested Convention

The last time the fight for delegates was nearly as intense as during this year’s Republican presidential primary was back in 1976, when Ronald Reagan was first running for office and then-President Gerald Ford was fighting to hold on to the White House.

A contested convention — where no candidate secures a majority of candidates — was avoided this year when Donald Trump passed the key mark of 1,237, but 40 years ago, there wasn’t such a solution going into the convention.

At the time, neither Ford nor Reagan had secured the number of delegates needed to get that “presumptive” title ahead of time, meaning that there was some bitter fighting up until the end of the first roll call vote on the convention floor.

“In 1976, there was a matter of about 150 uncommitted delegates and also a lot of wavering delegates on both sides,” historian Craig Shirley told ABC News.

“Jim Baker, who was then Ford’s delegate wrangler, used everything he could — it was all legal of course — to attract the uncommitted delegates to support Ford on the first ballot in Kansas City,” where the convention was held, he said.

Trips to the White House during the primary and prime seating at bicentennial celebrations were used as wooing factors, according to Shirley.

“Ford was the incumbent president, and they have the majesty and the aura of the presidency, so they had to use [those] as inducements for uncommitted delegates,” said Shirley, whose book “Reagan’s Revolution” is about the 1976 election.

Political scientist David Karol also said that trips on Air Force One were used by the Ford camp to impress some wavering delegates.

At the time of Ford’s convention, the Federal Election Commission was only officially a year old, so even if there were any blurring of the lines, that likely had something to do with the fact that this was the first election in which there were any rules about wooing delegates at all.

“It really was silent about what you could do to attract uncommitted delegates or any delegates,” Shirley said.

For her part, Nancy Reagan didn’t forgive and forget the wooing tactics of the Ford administration even after her husband won two terms in office. She mentioned the old wounds in her 1989 memoir “My Turn,” writing that Ford brought “dozens of uncommitted delegates to the White House for lunches, cocktails, meetings and dinners.”

“To this day, I have never known the White House to be used by either party the way it was in this campaign. I was furious,” she wrote in the memoir, which was published in 1989. “The White House stands for something more important than partisan politics and uncommitted delegates — or at least it should.”

Ruminations of a Reaganite

By Jeffrey Lord on 12.4.12 @ 6:11AM

Craig Shirley, ex-Reagan aide, businessman, author, ponders the state of the GOP.

It’s the conservatism, stupid.

And PS: the Republican Party has become not a Party of Principle but a Party of Rackets.

That wasn’t exactly what Reagan biographer Craig Shirley said to me when I asked him to give me some post-election thoughts on the state of the Republican Party after the 2012 election. But pretty close.

Why does his stark, no-holds barred review of the GOP matter?

Craig is not only a successful businessman (he is the Shirley of Shirley and Banister Public Affairs in which he partners with Diana Banister).

He is also the highly successful author of two bestselling books on Reagan: Reagan’s Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign that Started It All and Rendezvous with Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Campaign That Changed America. And yes, he is at work on another two — plus a book on Newt Gingrich. Continue reading Ruminations of a Reaganite

Reagan author: The Gipper’s relevant

By: Patrick Gavin
December 3, 2012 02:58 PM EST

If there’s an assumption that American universities are predominantly liberal, Eurkea College provides an apt counterbalance. It’s Visiting Reagan Scholars program provides students with an in-depth look at our 40th president (Reagan graduated from Eureka in 1932) and Reagan biographer Craig Shirley was one of those scholars this fall.

He admits that students nowadays have just a cursory understanding of the Gipper.

“They know about Reagan to the extent that he was the president of the United States and a successful two-term president,” Shirley told POLITICO, adding gleefully that there were no protests in his classroom by, say, College Democrats. Continue reading Reagan author: The Gipper’s relevant

Reagan biographer Craig Shirley on what 21st century conservatism should look like



Posted By Matt K. Lewis On 11:44 AM 11/13/2012 @ 11:44 AM In DC Exclusives,Matt Lewis

“People say this is a fight for the heart and soul of the Republican Party,” harrumphs Reagan biographer Craig Shirley. “That’s bullshit. This is a fight for the mind of the Republican Party.”

Shirley and I caught up over the phone to discuss his op-ed in the Washington Post. If you missed it, you missed a shot across the bow at Bush-era, big government Republicanism.

As Shirley wrote, Continue reading Reagan biographer Craig Shirley on what 21st century conservatism should look like

The Bartender’s Tale: How the Watergate Burglars Got Caught


By Craig Shirley


On Friday, June 16, 1972, the annual assault of heat and humidity on Washington had already begun. An undercover DC police vehicle, a light-blue 1972 four-door Ford—car #727—was cruising Georgetown with Sergeant Paul W. Leeper and officers John B. Barrett and Carl M. Shoffler, all dressed as hippies, on the lookout for street criminals doing drug deals and the like. It was best to approach possible criminals in an unremarkable car and disheveled civilian clothing. Continue reading The Bartender’s Tale: How the Watergate Burglars Got Caught