The presidential election 1976 pitted Republican incumbent Gerald Ford against Democratic darkhorse Jimmy Carter. Carter was an unknown, an outsider to federal politics. Ford had once had tremendous popularity, but that had been steadily declining since his pardon of former President Richard Nixon.
Carter surprised many people with his victory in the New Hampshire primary. His main competition came from California Governor Jerry Brown. The two campaigned and debated feverishly. However, by the time the Democratic Party held it's convention, Carter had more than enough votes needed to become the Democratic nominee. At the convention Carter promised to restore honor and dignity to the White House, after the disgrace of the Nixon/Water Gate scandal. He used his role of an "outsider" to separate himself from the now corrupted view of federal government.
The battle for the Republican nomination was even more heated than the Democratic race. President Ford managed to hold back former Governor of California, Ronald Reagan, who had won the Republican primaries in Texas, California and other states.
In a final effort to gain the nomination Reagan selected Senator Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania in an effort to gain moderates. Nevertheless, Ford managed to capture the nomination with the help of conservative support from Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona. Ford said at the convention that he would continue the work he had begun in the past two years.
Ford and his vice-presidential nominee Bob Dole, entered the race behind by almost thirty percent. Ford challenged Cater to a series of debates in order to show Carter's lack of commitment to issues. Ford climbed in the polls to make it a dead heat. Some polls had Ford winning by a narrow margin, others Carter. Then, Ford made a serious error in the second debate concerning foreign policy. Ford asserted...