Face the State Flashback: President Ford Brings '76 Campaign to Hartford

If you are regular reader of the Hartfordite, you are well aware I often lament our state’s lack of a role in the 2012 presidential race.    I’ll unabashedly admit I’m jealous of my friends and family in Ohio who are bumping into Mitt Romney and President Obama every other day, and I wish our state could attract even just a tiny a fraction of that attention.

 Senator Lowell Weicker, President Ford, CT GOP Chairman Fred Biebel


      President Ford embracing legendary singer Pearl Bailey, outside the Bushnell

Instead, we will live vicariously through flashbacks, when Connecticut used to matter in presidential campaigns.   In this Sunday’s Face the State flashback, we go back to the summer of 1976, when President Gerald Ford came to Hartford for a campaign stop.

 Actor Steven Ford accompanied his father to Hartford

White House chief of staff Dick Cheney mingling with the crowd outside the Statler Hilton

Ford spoke at the now demolished Statler Hilton Hotel, coincidentally on Ford Street, and then jumped in his motorcade for the short trip under the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Memroail Arch, through Bushnell Park and to the Bushnell Center for the Peforming Arts where he addressed the state Republican conventin.       Outside supporters and protestors gathered peacefully.

The film from the Channel 3 archives also shows how much presidential security has changed since then.    Onlookers who lined the streets of downtown were actually leaning on the presidential limousine and posing for pictures!

I’ve also added some pictures of the visit courtesy of the Ford Presidential Library Museum in Grand Rapids, one of my favorite places to visit when I lived there.

The trip was crucial to Ford’s election chances, in fact it helped propel him to the nomination over Ronald Reagan a month later.   Then popular Governor Ella Grasso was supporting Jimmy Carter, so Ford could use all the help he could get.     Even though Carter won the election, Ford carried Connecticut in November.

You can watch the entire flashback this Sunday morning at 11 on Channel 3.    Recognize any of these reporters?

watch the segment right here: http://www.wfsb.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=7921787

Read about other presidential visits: 

Kennedy Campaigns in 1979    http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2011/05/05/face-the-state-flashback-ted-kennedy-campaigns-in-connecticut/

Bush and Dukakis campaign in 1988  http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2012/03/16/face-the-state-flashback-1988-connecticut-presidential-primary/

Gore campaigns in 1992 http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2012/07/13/face-the-state-flashback-gore-campaigns-in-hartford/

Johnson campaigns in 1960  http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2011/12/01/face-the-state-flashback-lbj-campaigns-in-hartford-in-1960/

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