|Source: ABC News- Ronald Reagan-|
One of the problems with the 1976 Republican National Convention, was that they were divided between two Conservatives. President Gerry Ford and Governor Ron Reagan. President Ford more of an establishment Conservative from the Midwest, someone who was a staunch fiscal conservative, if anything more conservative than Ron Reagan on fiscal policy. Who vetoed a lot of spending bills from Congress, because they were too big, who had strong ties to foreign policy Conservatives. Who wasn't inline with the Religious-Right, who was more of a Goldwater Conservative-Libertarian on social issues. "Get Big Government out of our wallets and bedrooms Republican." Which probably hurt him with the Religious-Right in 1976, because he was pro-choice. And not inline with the Religious-Right and their social agenda. And Ron Reagan who was more of a Revolutionary Conservative, (the Tea Party of the time) also in the Barry Goldwater mold, but someone who wanted and did rebuild the entire GOP and make it a real Conservative Party, but a Party that could compete nationally.
The GOP is much further to the right today, especially on social issues, but Reagan wanted a real Conservative Party in the GOP. But a party that was anti-big government across the board. I believe the GOP was more divided based on style and personality in 1976 rather than politics. And they were divided based on who was best able to advance conservative republicanism rather than what direction they should move in ideologically. The establishment represented by Gerry Ford and the rebels represented by Ron Reagan, but both men were Conservatives. Rather than should the party move left or right ideologically, the party was more divided base on who was best fit to advance conservative republicanism and they were essentially split dow the line. The spin back then was that it was Gerry Ford's moderate wing of the party, vs Ron Reagan's conservative wing. When in fact ideologically Ford and Reagan, were fairly close on economic, social and foreign policy. But how they approached issues and how to argue them and who and when to fight, is where they were really different.