Stomper: Flashing Back to the 1976 KC Republican Convention & Beyond


SNNNakeI’ve been pushing for one of the conservatives here on KCC to offer up another piece on the possibility of the GOP convention coming to Kansas City… 

Dwight Sutherland would be perfect and Paul Wilson could do a great job as well. Alas, nothing has been forthcoming so I’ll offer some of my memories of “working” at two of the most recent political conventions here – there’ve been 4 total – and add a Richard Nixon story to spice things up a bit.

My parents were committed  Democrats and I recall my mother talking about what a sharp guy Adlai Stevenson II was and how he should have been President (he lost twice to Dwight Eisenhower). 

In 1960, when I was at the ripe young age of 8, John Kennedy made a campaign stop here. 

His motorcade route was publicized so I picked the northeast corner of 63rd & Paseo – a short walking distance of my home – and went to get a look at him. As his convertible limo turned the corner and headed north on the Paseo, I swear we made eye contact.

My addiction to politics was sealed at that moment. 

I went to college at American University in Washington, D.C. fully expecting to go into politics or government service after graduation.

nixon_raptureTo that end, in 1972, through an acquaintance at my school who graduated a couple of years ahead of me, I had a chance to work for CREEP ( the Committee to Re-Elect the President).  As a political science undergrad no way was going to pass on that, regardless of the fact that I would never have voted for Nixon.

With two or three others from my school, we worked at Nixon’s office in Georgetown sorting mailed in contributions. They had purchased mailing lists from magazines , associations, etc. and the return envelopes were coded to identify which mailing list they came from.

Aside from collecting the money, we had to sort the envelopes so they could send follow-ups to the mailing lists that generated the highest returns. Maurice Stans, Nixon’s finance chairman for the campaign, was at our office three or four nights each week (the older guys had a poker game in the middle area while we younger kids would be in surrounding rooms).

image 2Prior to that, Stans was Nixon’s Secretary of Commerce. He was an unbelievably nice guy and would engage us in conversation regularly. For an aspiring young political science major, this was the internship from heaven and they even paid me to do it (besides the assortment of pizza that was delivered each night).

If there was anyone who could have convinced me to move over to the darkside, it would have been Maurice Stans.

The amount of money that was coming in to our office was enormous. Way more than what was needed to defeat George McGovern. I figured they were using part of it to support other GOP candidates running for Congress around the nation but Watergate broke shortly after that and Stans got caught up in that mess.

As CREEP workers, we were all invited to attend one of the many inauguration balls and got to meet President Nixon.

I was stunned at how short and ugly the man was.

I guess the camera made him look taller and better lookingbut in person he was an ogre.

amd-sunday-news-kennedy-crash-jpgIn 1974, the Democratic Party decided to have a mid-term convention for the first time. The dems had gotten slaughtered so badly in 1972 that they wanted to work on their platform for 1976.

It was held in Kansas City.

Through local party people I got a job working there and was assigned as the driver for John McFall, a congressman from California, the Democratic House majority whip.

Only a limited number of delegates got cars and drivers that local car dealerships had donated, and I got a new, black Chevrolet Impala to drive him around in.

Basically I picked him up at his hotel ( the Alameda Plaza, now the Intercontinental) and took him wherever he needed to go for meetings that week. I also got passes to the convention floor and as a result of that, got to meet Ted Kennedy as he was walking to where his delegation was seated.

Kennedy had four burly security guys around him so I was lucky to get a handshake.

Where Nixon was small and scary looking, Kennedy was just the opposite.

He looked like a brick wall, even bigger and tougher looking than the security guys that surrounded him. Kennedy was a moral degenerate and had he acted more responsibly that evening in Chappaquiddick, Mary Jo Kopechne might have survived the accident.

However putting that aside  – and his constituency in Massachusetts obviously did – Kennedy rose to become one of the most powerful and successful legislators in this country’s history. He had many friends on the other side of the aisle and was able to build coalitions to successfully pass legislation (in my humble opinion as a liberal).

Republican Convention  Kansas City 1928

Republican Convention
Kansas City 1928

That brings us to 1976 and I’m a couple of years out of college working in Kansas City.

The father of a very close friend from college was a delegate to the GOP convention in Kansas City for the state of New York. My friend Cal, accompanied his father to KC and we both worked as “Gofers” for the New York delegation. Mainly we delivered paperwork among members or to other state delegations.

It wasn’t very demanding work, but I did get to meet Nelson Rockefeller, President Gerald Ford’s V.P. and the governor of New York. Rockefeller was maybe the last major example of a liberal Republican.

They went extinct very shortly after that.

Obviously the excitement at the convention was that California Governor Ronald Reagan was making a run at a sitting president.  Because it’s pretty unusual for someone in the same party as a sitting president to run against him at the convention, but it was happening (Ted Kennedy did it against President Jimmy Carter in 1980).

There was a lot of talk that Ford’s pardon of Nixon would make him unelectable so many in the GOP felt the party needed to get off that sinking ship.

imageReagan had an uphill battle and to create momentum, he named his running mate, Senator Richard Schweiker from Pennsylvania, even before winning the nomination which did create a buzz, because naming a running mate prior to receiving the nomination was unheard of before that.

My most powerful memory of the convention occurred one morning while my friend Cal and I were sitting by ourselves in a small office just outside a larger meeting room on one of the upper floors of the Muehlebach Hotel.

The entire New York delegation was meeting and we were waiting outside the room in case we might be asked to perform some menial assignment when the door to the outside lobby areas opened and in walked two secret service agents, followed by President Ford with two additional agents behind him.

Ford had come to speak to the New York delegation to cement their support for his nomination and we just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Even though it was short, it’s not often a person gets to have a brief conversation and shake the hand of a sitting President. Pretty cool experience for a young punk from Kansas City. As we all know, Ford went on to win the nomination, lose to Carter and later Reagan destroyed Carter in 1980. 

S7545-lgSo Kansas City has a very colorful history with political conventions. 

You may also know that Kansas City hosted the 1928 GOP convention where Herbert Hoover was nominated and went on to defeat New York Governor Al Smith. But did you also know that Kansas City also hosted the Democratic Convention in 1900 when William Jennings Bryan and Adlai Stevenson were nominated?

They went down to defeat, to William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt in the general election. So Kansas City is batting 1-1 in general elections with regards to nominees selected here.

Hopefully we’ll get the opportunity to break that tie in 2016.

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25 Responses to Stomper: Flashing Back to the 1976 KC Republican Convention & Beyond

  1. Stomper says:

    KC is actually 1-2 in the general election with nominees selected here. My bad.

  2. expat says:

    So you’re a partisan because of received wisdom. That explains a lot. I’m curious about the mental backflipping required to stand behind a president (and party) who has classified the constitutional reasoning behind killing American citizens without trial.

    Keep telling yourself one side is ‘better’ than the other.

    • Stomper says:

      I’m a partisan because in general, I see a need for a more active role for the federal government. That doesn’t mean I support 100% of the actions of a particular democratic administration. Figured you had read enough of my opinions to know that expat.

      • harley says:

        the republicans also want the government in an active role.
        if not…they’d lose thoe billions in oil subsidies…farm
        subsidies….transportation subsidies….and don’t forget
        its the republican states that always take more from the
        feds thenthey put in.
        Of course they want the feds to be more involved…they
        couldn’t survive on their own revenues to exist…and
        they take more than they pay in to the feds…a proven
        fact…while states like ca/ny get less backfrom the
        feds then they sendto d.c.
        the repubs are the biggest moochies in America!!!!!!!

    • Orphan of the Road says:

      I’m guessing they stay with the party for the same reason Republicans stay with the party who redefined torture as OK.

      No room for them in the other party for their ideals.

      Growing up in KC I learned the oral history of Pendergast as well as the history written by the winners.

      Lived in Springfield, PA for as long as I lived in KC. It and Delaware County were controlled by The War Board. Republican king makers who didn’t hold office but ran everything.

      They operated just as Pendergast did.

      So while each party has their special interest monies to represent, that is the basic difference. Which set of grifters do they sell-out to for their own benefit.

      The Delaware County Council makes Sly and City Council look like a bastion of truth and justice.

      I’d be a Libertarian but I’m just not selfish enough.

  3. paulwilsonkc says:

    Great story, Stomper!
    Reminded me of taking my kids to see the Clinton motorcade when he was staying at the “Alameda” or Intercontinental of Fairmont or what ever it was at the time. They had the Plaza locked down tight. I parked up by PemBROKE and walked down to the underground parking ramp where one of the staff told me they would be going. We got stopped by a Men in Black type at the corner asking where I was going. I replied I wanted my kids to see the President. Seemingly without any effort we ended up on the curbside at the entrance to the under ground service ramp!
    As luck would have it, his car came after miles of vehicles and it had to stop right in front of us. Bill rolled down his window, spoke and waved at the kids! I thought it was amazing and he was 8 feet away. Had my kids been decoys…. you know how that could have ended!
    As impressive as that was, I’ll still do whatever I can to see the Hildabeast fails! And, put this on record so Harley can suck it later: NOT our next President.
    Well done, do this more often and we are way past due for that drink. Call me, you have my digits.

    • Stomper says:

      Thanks Professor. And thanks for making that effort for your kids, even if they don’t become followers of politics. Seeing the person that holds the most powerful position in the world, up close and personal and having that person speak directly to them is something they will always remember. That’s just me talking.

      I think the RNC is supposed to announce a cut or two today. Really hoping that KC stays in the running so this conversation and focus can continue. I’m also waiting for any comments from my “close personal friend” Harley. I’m still reeling from being trashed by him after my first effort on political discourse.

      I do still owe you a call for drinks but we disagree on the Hildabeast so you’d probably be punching me out.

      • Orphan of the Road says:

        Stomper, I’m in your camp but I can’t see the words new ideas and Hillary used in the same sentence as an oxymoron.

        She is waaaaaay to out front with Let’s Go Get ‘Em. She recognizes her mistake on Iraq but continues down the same path.

        Her and Bill talking about leaving the White House broke is too much. By the time they got to their limo, they were rich.

        When Truman was alive, JFK and LBJ would come down Independence Ave, a block from our school. Both would slow down enough to say Hi to us.

        Perhaps my memory is fading but I seem to remember Nixon taking that trip but Harry refused to see him at the Library.

        These are strange times we live in
        Hard games we play
        Wager very carefully
        And play’em as they lay

        But don’t play no cards ain’t in your hand
        So long Harry Truman
        Goddamn it’s hard to find an honest man

        • Stomper says:

          Thanks Orphan. Your last two stanzas hit the nail on the head. I was so naive when I went away to school. I really thought politics was more honest and open. I thought that being a senator was the top of the mountain. Seeing the slime up close, on both sides, the power that lobbyists wield, politicians selling their vote to the highest bidder, and then watching Watergate explode before me every morning when I got up early to read the Woodward and Bernstein in the Washington Post, really turned me off as far as politics being a career. At least back then, it seemed to me that republicans and democrats did try to get along and find some common ground, despite the fact that both sides were less than honest. The “work of the people” did move forward at a slow pace. Good, honest men, and women, don’t run for office anymore. Why should they subject themselves and their families to the abuse? So sad. We still have the best game running, the best country in the world, but …………….

          • Orphan of the Road says:

            We came of political age at the end of deals made in smokey, back rooms. Before gerrymandering became the norm to win elections.

            Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Proof today is in the puddin’.

            Had a coworker who ran as a Democrat against the War Board’s candidate. He only ran when he was assured he could not win.

      • paulwilsonkc says:

        Nah, were cool on HilBill, no punching needed.
        As for your friend Harley, just don’t read it. It’s like the guy said on my last story, reading Harley’s comments is like jumping in a cesspool to retrieve a cell phone; too much crap to take the chance finding anything of value.
        And hes right. I just let him show himself for the idiot he is; doesn’t need my input, he’s his own worst enemy.

  4. harley says:

    You’re slobbering with your kids hoping to get a view of president
    Clinton? Little man…I worked with him…met him many times..knew his
    staff and writers. and where were you…? waiting on the street like
    a beggar to see the greatest president in 25 years!!!!!
    and now this dude says hes going to do everything he can to keep
    Hillary from being elected.
    NOMINEES!!! Hold a sign that says “HILLARY CAUSED BENGHAZI!”…
    maybe the little man will vote…but truth is you’re not a winner in any
    sense of the word…your face plants and blow ups with eveyr article you’ve
    written that’s been torn apart word by word…your prediction of a HUGE
    Romney win in 2012 whle Harley hit the number on the head…
    your continuous outbursts on tkc and kcc when someone says you’re wrong
    and they prove it.
    FROM WINNING 2016? best thing an old guy like you can do is
    sit down…relax…keep from a heart attack because here’s the facts
    from Harley….the real winner in this whole deal.
    Hillary goes into 2016 with about 240-248 electoral votes in her pocket.
    She’ll have 1.5 billiondollars in the bank from every major contributor who
    wants access to her after she wins. Include the hidden money that the
    supreme court just approved coming from outside the u.s.
    add 1.2 million volunteers already signed up and organized 3 years in advance
    with an organization and a digital campaign program ready to start within
    minutes…and the most sophisticated electon apparatus ever seen.
    add in the most popular president in 25 years on her campaign…add in
    another 8-10 million additional Hispanic and African American voters than
    in 2012 ready to vote with the largest getbout the vote teams in key states
    and counties to inundate the polls even though the repubs tried to limit
    their voting…
    add in no real primary challenger…the use of Obama’s key strategists…
    a 60% edge in the female vote…and yes mr. wislun you look like a
    fool again.
    You are a fool. And what will youdo to stop this? let me guess….you’ll write
    more articles filled with fantasies trying to get the 15 readers of kcc to
    vote for cruz or rand or Mario or whoever the republican clowns can
    get to run against the most powerful political machine in recent presidential
    You’re nuts!!!! your wrong again again again again…so please stfu….my
    email is filled with people who have read your stories and are convinced
    that you’re nothing but a fool.
    now mr. wislun…the floor is yours. explain how anyone of your clown candidates
    can beat this woman. It should be a good laugh. Of course everything you
    write is funny after I and others get thru riddling it with the true facts that
    you seem to always forget!!!!!!
    good luck. this should be fun!

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      I told you, publish one email, in its entirety, or it’s just more of your lies.
      Everyone on KCC knows you’re a gas bag; no ones buddying up to you on and you know it.

      Where’s YOUR second story you promised would knock our socks off? Your first one was so terrible MY email was full asking why Hearne let you look even more idiotic.

      And it’s fool ON the hill. I’d appreciate and accurate insult.

    • chuck says:

      Harley/JoJo, I think you have achieved the elusive “Simpleton Singularity” with that last comment. Over the last few months, I have tried to imagine how you graduated from “J” School and then, it finally hit me. It wasn’t “J” School, it was “Jays” School of Trucking. “Learn How To Drive The Big Rigs!”

      It’s kinda like “J” School, only it is “Jay” School. As long as you can point to the cheeseburger on the menu at the truck stop and work the jake brakes on your mouth, you’re in business.

      • paulwilsonkc says:

        Chuck, he was close to all Clinton’s staff and writers cause he be a gernalust!
        It’s always great when you’re an anonymous coward, can claim anything and everything but prove nothing!
        Oh! I’ll take you up on buying me a beer, Harlis, you’ve offered twice in two weeks. I’m game. Can’t back that up either?
        I’m sorry to have replied again, you need that extra time to answer all the anti Paul email, I forgot.
        My apologies.
        There’s only one person moderated 100% of the time due to the repetitively redundant same crap over and over, 1,100 word comments. I say that either makes you the most favored reader here…..or……the other option.

        • chuck says:

          The guy is brutal, just brutal.

          Harley/JoJo has a degree from “Jays School Of Trucking”.

          Heh, heh…

          • harley says:

            you’re short bald and fat. (your own words)
            you drive a beater truck (your own words)
            you are a racist and hate anything that’s
            not lilly white (your own words)
            you work as a ditch digger (your own words)
            that sums up chuckles the sad clown of hate
            and vulgarity.
            heh…heh (your own words.)

      • expat says:

        Oh come on be fair: he may have actually been a journalist, before he slipped on a banana peel and whacked his head on the pavement, causing the massive brain damage he displays now.

        Also truck drivers need to concentrate for long periods of time, do you think our local comment spaz could do that? Truck driving is a respectable occupation; there’s nothing respectable about Gnarley.

      • harley says:

        while you’re working on some girder….Harley is meeting with
        the real movers and shakers of this town and across the
        nation. Goood luck. Stay cool fool in the 100 degree heat.
        from fixing old TV’s to construction…that’s really moving
        up in the world chuckles.
        good career move! I’m sure that $12 an hour buys lots of
        slim jims and pabst beer for old guy like you!
        no offense…we need laborers like you todothe grunt work
        while the rest of us move up in the world.

  5. Stomper says:

    Hearne; thanks for adding the additional artwork !!!

  6. expat says:

    Hearne, any comment on KC-based Tradebot being singled out by NY’s complaint against Barclays as being especially ‘toxic’?

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