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Ford Picks A Pineapple Grand Old Party In Kc

Ford Picks A Pineapple Grand Old Party In Kc image Ford Picks A Pineapple Grand Old Party In Kc image Ford Picks A Pineapple Grand Old Party In Kc image Ford Picks A Pineapple Grand Old Party In Kc image
Parent Issue
Day
3
Month
September
Year
1976
OCR Text

Kansas City heats up fast in August. The sun beats down on the flatlands of Missouri, sending the temperature toward 80 degrees by early morning. At noon it's hovering in the 90's. The heat, combined with a higli humidity, makes even the shortest of jaunts outside air-conditioned environments a sweat-ridden torture. Only naive visitors venture out in the streets in such weather. The natives have the good sense to stay indoors. The bars, in fact the whole town, closes uparound lam. Descending into this hot, seemingly colorless old cow town- now number two ín the nation in automobile production- were mobs of political miscreants, religious misanthropes and the conservative conscience of America, on their way to choose a man to do what Morris Udall couldn't: Stop Jimmy Carter. Not all concerned took part in the selection process. A couple hundred vociferous Yippies were not . recognized as authenticated voting participants, and a few hundred more Jesús Freaks, equally vocal, settled for spreading the word rather than infïuencing ballots. Others, more secularly inclined, had their cry of "Nobody for President." By the end of the week some would argue that they got their wish. Legitimate Republican politicos, however, were generally pleased with their party's middleof-the-road, no-nonsense nominee. Appointed President Gerald R. Ford had gone down to Kansas City and emerged duly-elected as the presidential candidate of the Grand Old Party. (cont. on page 6) Grand (continued from page 3j All questions, save one, had been answered by Thursday, August 19the night Ford, runner up RonaldReagan, Vice-President Nelson Rockefeller and Vice-Presidenlial nominee Robert Dole -a Kansas boy himself-stood atop the podium in steamy Kemper arena. The Had the hoopla of the convention produced a viable candidate and pohtical platform to present to the voters, or was it all just a smaller-than-life hodgepodge of events that proved nothing save that the GOP can still fill an arena? Consider the following: Armrdinfi Ki national polls, the GOP has been on a steady decline Wk since-1944, when they represented 39% of tlie voters. They n.iw renresent onlv 22%. The Democrats. while declining from a peak of more than 50% in 1 964, are now increasing their support trom a low of 40$ in 1972, up to the present level of 46%. Polls, in fact, have shown Carter with a 10 lead over Ford. While the Democrats have been courtine minoiïties and women, the GOP has been growing old. Apparently the party lias t'aíled to renew itself. Only 60 delégate votes 1 separated the winner and the loser-votes cast by such sharpiesas Virginia's Eliza Sprinkle. Octogenarian Sprinkle, one of about 100 uncommitted delegates at the vention, ultimately i cast her vote for Ë Reagan. But not before she had 'made an appearance on NBC's Today Show and been courted bv both presidential nominees and any number of the sharpshooters on their staffs. ' Over a beer, Gilbeit Miles, an altérnate delégate from Virginia, agreed with Ms. Sprinkle's course of action. "Heil, if I were hei age and thoüght this was my last go-around, I'd play it for all it was worth, too." Sprinkle was after attention. How many other uncommitted delegates were ing the same game? Reagan believes he lost it in Ohio, where he spent only one day campaigning but garnered 45% of the vote. One more day oí Reagan charm ín Ohio might have made the difference. Ironically, a lack of charm by many in the Ford camp may have been responsible for Reagan's close second-place finish, more so than any deftness displayed by the California diarmer. ■■M Rogers C.B. Morton, the president's former campaign director, turned 1 4 Mississippi delegates over to Reagan when he alienated them with the impression he gave a southern journalist that Ford would concede the south to Jimmy Carter. Michigan's U.S. Senator Robert Griffin. Ford's floor maaager at the convention, fared Uttle better. Virginia delégate Miles explained that when Griffin came stumping in the Virginia delegation for a spare vote or two, he more likely cost the president support than gained any for him. "He tried to impress us with nis 'down home' approach," Miles grimaced, adding a twang to his speech that would do any country boy proud. "He thought he was talking to a bunch of farmers." Miles then went on to outline the state's agri-business economy. Despite such blunders, the Ford machine held the necessary votes and no amount of cajolery could drag them ihto the Reagan campwhich many saw as soiled by Reagan's choice of a liberal for his running mate. , ■- Ford Picks a Pineapple Old Party in Kansas City Reagan's crew maintained itself on blind faith. When all other ploys failed the cries and demonstrations for Reagan becarne longer and louder. The crowd pleaded for Reagan witli out-stretched arms. Instead they got Ford and Bob Dole, the Kansas Pineapple. Many Reagan delegates wept openly. Yet all the-convention activity did nöt take place in the arena. In a fenced-off parking lot next to the arena complex, Bible beaters and left-over Yippies carried on with a fervor all their own. The religious zealots waged a campaign so well-organized it was iM almost frightening. Hersche] Martindale, 47, a campus minister at the University of Texas, said that the 700 to 1000 taking part in the Kansas City crusade came as the result of a simple letter-writing campaign. Aside froni spraying the passing delegates witli their brand of country-religious-rock music, the Christians also provided some of llie délegates with rieles trom their hotels to the convention center, all the while proselytizing for Christianity in govemment. bach delégate was also provided with a religious tract stating their background and aspirations. The C'hristians carried on their low;key religious persuasión blissfully and heavenly uninolested for two days. And then came the Yippies. Dragging with them a huge bust ofGerald Ford I that they seemed to worship, the Yippies smoked dope, drank, cursed and. generally flaunted their loóse moráis. As a female Yippie removed her shirt for the' benefit of the Jesus Freaks, one of her cohort syel led at his Christian counterpart: "Hey, Holy Harvey, that's no Bible you've got in your pants. You have sinned, Holy Harvey. You're going to heil, Harvey." The Christians responded with another song about the Lord, the Yippies countering with that old 60's favorite, "Up Against The Wall, Motherfucker. Despite a brief altercation or two brought on by the heat, the scène was peaceful. There were about 30 pólice standing by, just in case, but they didn't get much action. Except for an occasional gawker, both groups were largely ignoréd ás the Republicans had their own fringe groups to entertain. The Young Republicans National Federation (YRNF) was out in great force, hosting a variety of allegedly "exclusive" fund-raisers. At first glance their $ 1 00-a-person party given August 17 appeared first-class all the way, but once inside the veil was lifted. Just about anyone could walk in, and did. Reporters and photographers, in search of free drinks, nearly outnumbered the legitimate guests. -Reagan's kids, Ford's kids, Pat Boone and Gordon MacRae carne and went in rapid succession while fresh-faced eternal teenagers danced in accompaniment to a band playing show tunes. Elizabeth Ray, covering the convention for a beaver mag, also showed up at the party but didn't stay long. The Young Repubs physically removed Ms. Ray from the event, later claiming in a statement issued by YRNF Chairnïan Jack Mueller that the YRNF was proud of its reputation of high moral charactet and advocacy of personal decency. "Should Miss Ray decide to attend our event, I will gladly meet with her, present her with a bus ticket to Plains, Georgia, and suggest she might better peddle her stories there," Mueller concluded. Ray was visibly upset by the incident. 'Tve been manhandled quite a bit since I got here," slie told The Sun. "It just goes to show you how small some people's minds are." Other media types were treated better, but they didn't respond in kind. Photographérs ran in packs chewing up anyone who migin block a sliot. One TV cameraman whispered into the ear of a woman blockinghis view, "Listen honey, if you're in the way when Ford comes through I'm going to rip your head off witli my camera." The woman moved. Other photographers were not so subtle. One actualfy pushed a bystandei to the floor when his shot was blocked. _. Reporters acted little better, being suspicious of anyone who might steal a story, yet comparing notes in the press room with other reporters to ensure everyone filed the same story. Media events and photo opportunities were constantly being staged, and the cute 1 3-years-and-under staff of the ChilJren 's Express seemed to have access to everything and everybody. . With the hovering media and the earbending special-interest groups everywhere, it sometimes became hard just to find a Republican. The ranks of Young Republicans at another group function seemed full of everyone but Young Republicans. The scène was KC's Union Station, an old train depot, and the event was the "Second Union Station Massacre," presented by the Missouri Federation of Young Republicans. - In attendance, however, were three Chícanos, a burnt-out hippie type, a man in his thirties looking for work, six cats from the plains who knew how to boogie down, two cheerleaders from Kansas and about 150 others. Of course not all of the above were interviewed, but the views of those described above seemed ty pical. Of the 13 folks, only the two cheerleaders from Kansas, aged 16and 17, persisted at the end of an interview that they were Young Republicans. But they weren't quite sure why. "I don't know," exclaimed Jennifer McGinnes. "What's wrong with being a Republican?" The 17-year-old, who will be voting in this year's presidential election, added that her parents are Republicans. McGinnes and her friend responded to most questions about Republican planks and personalities with the phrase, "What's wrong with that?", apparently not really knowing themselves. The Chícanos and the two lone males may also be excused. Their prime reason for attending a Young Republican get-together was along the lines of "Just lookin' for a party" or "All the beer you can drink for $3 sounded pretty good." The six high-steppers, though, said they were at a Young Republican party because they considered themselves Young Republicans. Bill Hudson, 22, the most vocal of the group, said Republicans best fit his personal philosophy. Asked if that meant he thought everyone should have a square meal a day, a sound education and equal opportunities so long as it doesn't cost him anything, he hesitantly agreed. But eventually realizing such statement made for bad PR-Hudson said he planned on entering politics- he then concluded that he feit social services should be provided the poor, whatever the cost. His friend went along, for the most part, and we concluded the tete-a-tete by fcontinucd on page 21} - ■ ■ -- In all the official noise and commotion of the convention, there was no mention of the man who had made Gerald R. Ford's rise to power possible. Richard Nixon doesn't exist in the eyes of the GOP. ■llU.UMlJ.I.IUat.lfeUMlA.lJJii4Mi.,IJ.iiJa4W.i6U..IJ.I.i.,.UJ.4.-l i 1 i GOP Convention (con tin iiecl front page 19) venturing out into the night, not too close to where the Yippies were then encamped, and smoking a joint -a Republican joint at that. Yes, would-be Young Republicans smoke dope. Finally, there was Charlie Schmidt, a delégate from Arizona, who was spotted floating through the Young Republicans' party. Seeing our press credentials, Charlie said "Oh, I'vë got one of those, too"seems he traded for it. Charlie, wearing a purple vest covered with Arizona insignia and looking as thougli he had just come stumbling in out of the desert, wasan adamant Reagan supporter. Asked if, with the nomination so hotly contested, anyone had approached him from the Ford camp with an offer to buy his vote, Charlie said no. "That couldn't happen," he said. "I know politics are corrupt, but I don't think anyone here is buying or selling votes." At that, a visit to Ford's Kansas City headquarters was suggested, where it would be made known that the vote of Arizona's Charlie Schmidt was up for grabs. After taking a few steps towards the door, Charlie turned back, saying, "It's too early to gonow- let me see if I can piek up a girl fust." Unfortunatejy, Charlie soqji disappeared, perliaps with one of ihe clieerleaders from Kansas, fearing what he miglil have found at Ford's hotel. Amidst all the noise and conimotion of the convention tliere was one other aberration tliat screamed for attention. In all the official statements and speechs made ai the convention, there was no mention of the man who had made Gerald R. Ford's rise to power possible. Richard Nixon does not exist in the eyes of the GOP. They hoped by gnoring the abuses of Nixon 's presidency, people will not associate his crimes with the GOP and Ford. Yet Ford is the man who, appointed by .Vixon, then pardoned the former president. And Dole, Ford's "new idea," served Nixon faithfutty as Republican National Chairman all through the Watergate Jays, using his much-proclaimed "hatchetman" abilities to attack his president's accusers. With Carter running a campaign that calis for a president who is not part of the corrupt Washington scène, it seems almost impossible that voters will forget who made Ford president.