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10 Bizarre Moments in Presidential Elections


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1980: Reagan Considers a Former President for his VP
There was little love between Ronald Reagan (left) and his running mate George H.W. Bush. In fact. Reagan tried to get former President Gerald Ford to run in Bush's stead. David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images
There was little love between Ronald Reagan (left) and his running mate George H.W. Bush. In fact. Reagan tried to get former President Gerald Ford to run in Bush's stead. David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

In the 1980 Republican primaries, bad blood developed between former California Gov. Ronald Reagan, the eventual winner, and also-ran George H.W. Bush, who had derided his tax cut and spending proposals as "voodoo economics". So when it came time for Reagan to pick a running mate, the disliked Bush wasn't on his personal list.

Instead, Reagan toyed with a highly unorthodox idea. He wanted to pick Gerald Ford, who had served as vice president in Richard Nixon's administration, and then been elevated to the Oval Office himself when Nixon resigned to avoid impeachment in 1974. Two years later, Ford had been defeated by Democrat Jimmy Carter, who was now the incumbent being challenged by Reagan. Historically, it was bizarre, but politically, it made a strange sort of sense. In surveys conducted by Reagan's pollster, Dick Wirthlin, Ford performed way ahead of other prominent Republican prospects [source: Witcover].

Reagan even met with Ford in Palm Springs before the GOP Convention to pitch the idea. But to his disappointment, Ford flatly turned him down. "He had been there and done that," as political journalist Jules Witcover later explained.

Eventually, Reagan's advisors convinced him to make peace with Bush and pick him, and they won the election [source: Witcover].


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