Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Republican National Convention in Miami Beach FL (1972)

1972 Republican National Convention
The President and Vice President accept the 1972 Nomination
Type of Activity
 Acceptance Speech
 Miami Beach Convention Center
Date of Activity
 23 August 1972
 25° 47′ 42″ N, 80° 8′ 0″ W

Republican Convention: Miami Beach, FL August 21 to 23, 1972

I was transferred from the San Clemente CCT to the Key Biscayne Communications Detachment in July of 1972 and had just got my family settled when we started to prepare for the 1972 Republican Convention at the Miami Beach Convention Center only a few miles away from the Nixon’s Key Biscayne White House compound.

I arrived just in time to start preparations to provide support to the President, First Family, Vice President, Senior Staff and representatives from the Committee for the Re-Election of the President who were setting up their operations at the Doral Hotel also on Miami Beach.

The Miami Beach Convention Center Site of the 1972 Republican National Convention
The 1972 Republican convention was not originally scheduled to be held in Miami Beach, but rather in more summer-friendly (and drivable from Nixon’s Western White House) San Diego. But when the GOP could not effectively negotiate with the owner of the San Diego Sports Arena and with the threat of massive antiwar demonstrations, the Republican National Committee decided that Miami Beach would be better place for their convention, they had already set themselves up for two conventions in the previous four years and Miami Beach had the hotel space and phone lines to accommodate them. Not to mention Nixon’s other summer home on Key Biscayne.

The Key Biscayne compound had a well-established communications network already used to provide support for the entire staff necessary to set up and conduct the National Convention and at the same time support the President Vice President their families as well as the President's Senior Staff. WHCA provided additional resources to enable us to provide 24hr support in the communications center, switchboard and the radio console in the Key Biscayne Compound. The Convention Center was set up for the numerous networks and broadcast audio including visual feeds necessary to cover the entire Republican Convention. FM Radio coverage for the USSS throughout Miami Beach and surrounding areas was thoroughly tested, and a regular scheduled courier service was established between the Key Biscayne Compound, Republican National Headquarters at the Doral Hotel and the Miami Beach Convention Center.

The antiwar protesters were assembled at Flamingo Park organized by Ron Kovic of “Born of the Fourth of July” fame, and his band of Vietnam Veterans against War if the GOP had held its convention in California; it would have made for a much shorter trip. As it was, Kovic as well as thousands of others, including Jane Fonda made the trek across the south to Miami Beach. Of course these protesters were not as peaceful as they were at the 1972 Democrat Convention held a few weeks earlier in Miami Beach.

Ron Kovic and Jane Fonda lead the antiwar protests in 1972
Ron Kovic and Jane Fonda lead the antiwar protests in 1972
The 1972 Republican National Convention was opened on August 21 1972 by the convention chairman by then-U.S. House Minority Leader and future Nixon successor Gerald Ford of Michigan.

The President arrived at the Miami International Airport on Aug. 22 1972 and The President addressed the assembled crowd on a nationwide radio and television broadcast. The Presidential Party then departed aboard Marine One for the Key Biscayne Compound.

Later that evening the President motored from the Key Biscayne Compound to the Miami Marine Stadium (a four minute drive), where the President addressed the young people attending, a Presidential Nomination Rally, sponsored by Young Voters for the President. Since President Nixon participated in very few public gatherings, because of the increased security concerns. The public rally at the Miami Marine Stadium was the exception to the rule for the President. The President's address was also broadcast live at the Republican National Convention and on nationwide radio and television. 

The Miami Marine Stadium and floating stage where President Nixon and Sammy Davis Jr appeared at a public rally
Sammy Davis Jr gives President Nixon a hug
The defining moment was when Sammy Davis Jr. introduced the President: “The President and Future President of the United States of America!” When Nixon came onto the stage, Sammy Davis Jr. hugged him.

Aug. 23, 1972 would be a very busy day for all of us because the delegates would place their ballots for the Republican Nominee for President and Vice President who would give their acceptance speeches that evening.

First Lady Pat Nixon behind her is Senator Bob Dole of Kansas
and Governor Ronald Reagan of California
First Lady Pat Nixon addressed the delegates at the 1972 Republican National Convention; she was the first, First Lady since Eleanor Roosevelt to address a party convention, and the first Republican First Lady to do so.

Inside the Miami Beach Convention Center awaiting President Nixon's acceptance speech
Vice President Spiro T. Agnew introduced the President to the delegates attending the 1972 Republican National Convention.

The President and the First Lady went to the speaker's podium. They were accompanied by: Mr. and Mrs. Edward F. Cox, Lt. (jg.) and Mrs. David Eisenhower. The President announced his acceptance of the 1972 Republican Presidential nomination to the delegates attending the National Convention. The address was broadcast live on nationwide radio and television. John Cardinal Kro1, Archbishop of Philadelphia, then joined the President on the speakers’ platform to deliver the benediction.

Richard Nixon wins the Republican Nomination in 1972
When the Convention was adjourned the President and the First Lady participated in a reception line with convention delegates, alternates and guests. Also receiving guests were Mr. and Mrs. Cox and Lt. (jg.) and Mrs. Eisenhower.

The President and First Family returned to The Key Biscayne compound on Marine One well after midnight.  Although it was a very long day for everyone involved we were all glad that it was over and we could return to our normal activities.

The next day the Presidential party departed aboard “the Spirit of 76” for an extended stay at the Western White House in San Clemente.

The President’s approval was at an all-time high emphasizing a good economy and his successes in foreign affairs, such as coming near to ending American involvement in the Vietnam War which would come to an end in 1973 and establishing relations with China in 1972. President Nixon would decisively defeat Senator George McGovern in upcoming November election receiving 60.7% of the popular vote. He received almost 18 million more popular votes than Senator McGovern, the widest margin of any United States presidential election.

After the 1972 Presidential Election a dark cloud was forming that would shake the Nixon Administration to its core. The Watergate break in occurred in Jan. 1972 and continued to cause controversy surrounding the White House. The Watergate investigation would reveal that the President had WHCA install a voice recording system in the White House and other locations that would produce enough incriminating evidence that would eventually lead to the firing of the Senior Staff, and eventually the President’s resignation on Aug 9, 1974.

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