The Dole Institute of Politics is proud to present a series of projects focusing on the people, places, and enduring legacies of the 1976 presidential election, featuring materials from the Dole Archives, the Dole Institute programming archive, and other historical collections.
Funded by the Enid and Crosby Kemper Foundation
Through the years, the Dole Institute of Politics has been privileged to connect with a number of prominent individuals who were involved at various levels in the 1976 campaign. Some of these have been through the Dole Institute's Oral History Project, and others have been speakers at our public programs. A selection of these interviews that are particularly pertinent to the 1976 election is presented here on this page.
Additional programs from the Dole Institute can be viewed on our YouTube channel.
For complete oral history interviews, more information on the Dole Institute Oral History Project, and many more oral history recordings and transcripts, please visit the project website.
In 2014 and again in 2016, Director of the Dole Institute Bill Lacy appeared on Central Standard, a weekly radio show hosted by KCUR public radio in Kansas City, MO, to talk about the 1976 Republican National Convention in Kansas City. You can listen to these broadcasts through KCUR's website (links will open a new window):
June 6, 2014: The History of Recent Political Conventions
July 21, 2016: The '76 Republican National Convention In KC: 'Blood-letting' In The West Bottoms
Bob Dole - June 22, 2007
Senator Dole discusses his relationship with President Ford starting with their time together in the House of Representatives and finishing with their relationship during the Republican National Convention of 1976 when Senator Dole was chosen as the vice presidential nominee by President Ford. (9:46)
Bob Dole - September 7, 2007
Senator Dole discusses the grueling 3 months he spent flying across the country campaigning for the Republican ticket after he was chosen as the vice presidential nominee. Along the way he participated, along with Walter Mondale, in the first vice presidential debate, which became a tradition that has occurred in every presidential campaign since. (27:17)
James Baker - May 21, 2007
James Baker, before serving as Chief of Staff for President Reagan, first served as a delegate hunter for the Ford campaign, and then as the General Chairman of the President Ford Committee. He recollects many details about the interactions between President Ford and Senator Dole during their campaign together. (6:32)
Robert Downen - December 27, 2007
Robert Downen served first as a driver for Senator and Dole then as a legislative assistant on his staff during the 1976 election and after. He discusses the specific roles Senator Dole had during the 1976 election as the vice presidential candidate for a sitting president, as well as how the election changed the public image of Senator Dole.(9:14)
Noel Koch - February 20, 2008
Noel Koch served as a speechwriter for politicians ranging from President Nixon to Senator Dole. As a high-ranking member of the 1976 campaign he has a unique perspective on Bob Dole as a first-time candidate on a presidential ticket. He offers a perspective of what went wrong during the election on the Republican side. (27:53)
Betty Meyer - November 28, 2007
Betty Meyer served as the personal secretary to Senator Dole during the 1970s. She has a first-hand account of how Senator Dole conducted his senatorial duties while on the campaign trail, as well as the effect the loss of the 1976 presidential election had on him. (8:59 - audio only)
Walter Mondale - November 28, 2007
Walter Mondale, a friend of Senator Dole during their time in the Senate, served as the vice presidential nominee for Jimmy Carter in 1976. He, along with Dole, participated in the first vice presidential debate in American history. He offers a unique behind-the-scenes take on the 1976 presidential race from the Democratic side. (29:56)
Dave Owen - April 20, 2007
Dave Owen, at the request of Senator Dole, served as the Midwest Regional Chairman for Ford during the 1976 election. He was instrumental in getting Senator Dole chosen as the vice presidential nominee. On the floor of the Republican National Convention he whipped up support for Senator Dole, which helped his case as a candidate. (16:49)
Kim Wells - April 18, 2007
Kim Wells served as one of the top aides to Senator Dole during the 1976 presidential election, having adjoining hotel rooms with the senator during the Republican National Convention. He has a vast knowledge of the contested 1976 Republican National Convention and how Senator Dole won the vice presidential nomination, as well as the presidential race itself. (19:51)
Jules Witcover - October 23, 2007
Jules Witcover covered the 1976 presidential campaign for the Washington Post. His book chronicling the campaign, Marathon: The Pursuit of the Presidency, 1972-1976, was published in 1977. Witcover appeared at the Dole Institute in 2007, discussing his book Very Strange Bedfellows: The Short and Unhappy Marriage of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew.
Donald Rumsfeld - July 26, 2012
Donald Rumsfeld served President Ford both as Chief of Staff and Secretary of Defense. During the 1976 election he was the White House liaison to the President Ford election committee. Rumsfeld, best known for his service as Secretary of Defense under President George W. Bush, visited the Dole Institute in 2012.
"The Spirit of 1976" - March 10, 2009
A panel discussion led by Jonathan Earle featuring interviews with 1976 Carter campaign insiders Scott Burnett, Tim Kraft, and Jody Powell.
Walter Mondale - April 12, 2007
Walter Mondale, Jimmy Carter's running mate and Vice President, was Bob Dole's Democratic counterpart in the 1976 campaign. Vice President Mondale discussed his experience in this interview at the Dole Institute in 2007.
Bob Woodward - May 15, 2011
Bob Woodward, who exposed the Watergate scandal with fellow journalist Carl Bernstein, gave the 2011 Dole Lecture at the Dole Institute.
Richard Norton Smith - February 8, 2007
Smith, presidential historian and former Dole Institute director, honored the life of President Ford in this 2007 installment of the Dole Institute's Presidential Lecture Series.
Howard Baker - April 22, 2007
Senator Howard Baker, considered a front-runner for 1976 Republican Vice Presidential nomination, accepted the 2007 Dole Leadership Prize.