The American Dream Come True— 50th Anniversary of the 1972 Republican National Convention
The 1972 Republican National Convention was held August 21-23 in Miami Beach, Florida.
In a historic event on the opening night, First Lady Pat Nixon was introduced by actor Jimmy Stewart and received a standing ovation that lasted over five minutes. With this speech, Pat Nixon became the first Republican First Lady to address a national convention.
After multiple attempts to speak over the cheering crowd, Mrs. Nixon said “…I stay in the wings and don’t come out in front too often. So this is quite unusual for me. But I do want to thank all of you for your friendship and your loyal support and for planning this wonderful evening for me. I shall remember it always.”
President Nixon delivered his speech accepting the presidential nomination on August 23, 1972.
His speech recalled milestones from his first term while laying out hopes for the next term with an emphasis on peace.
“When the history of this period is written, I believe it will be recorded that our most significant contributions to peace resulted from our trips to Peking and to Moscow. The dialogue that we have begun with the People’s Republic of China has reduced the danger of war and has increased the chance for peaceful cooperation between two great peoples. Within the space of 4 years in our relations with the Soviet Union, we have moved from confrontation to negotiation, and then to cooperation in the interest of peace. We have taken the first step in limiting the nuclear arms race. We have laid the foundation for further limitations on nuclear weapons and eventually of reducing the armaments in the nuclear area. We can thereby not only reduce the enormous cost of arms for both our countries, but we can increase the chances for peace. More than on any other single issue, I ask you, my fellow Americans, to give us the chance to continue these great initiatives that can contribute so much to the future of peace in the world.”
President Richard Nixon’s acceptance speech for the 1972 Republican Presidential Nomination
On August 22, President Nixon made an unscheduled appearance at a youth rally upon arriving at the convention. Recalling in his memoirs, RN: The Memoirs of President Nixon, Sammy Davis, Jr. appeared on stage with the President as he said “I believe in the American dream. Sammy Davis believes in it. We believe in it because we have seen it come true in our own lives.” Nixon describes the youth rally as the “highlight of the convention.” That same evening he was renominated for a second term by a vote of 1,347 to 1.
“The picture that is probably most remembered from the 1972 convention is of Sammy Davis, Jr., impulsively hugging me on the stage at the youth rally.” —Richard Nixon, RN: Memoirs of President Nixon
Julie Nixon Eisenhower also reflected on the importance of the youth vote in her biography Pat Nixon: The Untold Story, stating “…the Republican Convention, which began on August 21, offered the country the spectacle of a party that was as united as the Democrats had been in disarray. Nixon Youth had been active in all my father’s campaigns but they were especially important in 1972, and on Election Day, my father would receive 52 percent of the youth vote.”
Dwight Chapin, President Nixon’s aide offers an insider’s view of the convention in his memoirs, The President’s Man. “Planning for the convention was exciting because we were preparing to present President Richard Nixon to the nation and to make the case for why he should be reelected. ” He goes on to describe how political conventions at the time were covered “gavel-to-gavel” by all of the television networks and the challenge was to keep the cameras on the convention action and limit coverage interruptions from network commentators.
Richard Nixon’s presidential nomination in 1972 marked the fifth time that he appeared on the national Republican ticket. The previous times were vice president in 1952 and 1956 and president in 1960 and 1968. President Nixon went on to win the 1972 election in a landslide, winning 49 states.