In 1976, they nearly beat Carter with the fear card.
A fresh-faced Democratic presidential candidate promising change. An economy in turmoil. A nation soured on Republican rule.
It sounds like a recipe for a big win for Sen. Barack Obama this November. It also sounds a lot like the 1976 campaign, which I covered as White House correspondent for the Associated Press. And if history is any guide, don't count the GOP out just yet.
In August 1976, after winning the Republican nomination in Kansas City, Mo., Gerald Ford invited GOP VIPs to his summer retreat in Vail, Colo., to plot strategy for the November election against Jimmy Carter, who at that time enjoyed a nearly insurmountable advantage in opinion polls. Indeed, as summer peaked, Mr. Carter was doubling Ford's support in surveys – capturing nearly 70 percent.
Yet there they stood: Ford, his vice presidential nominee Bob Dole, Nelson Rockefeller, a line of Republican biggies that seemed to stretch across the golf course where they assembled, all mouthing banalities about how the GOP could come from behind and win.
At the far end stood John Connally, the Democrat turned Republican who, in his extemporaneous remarks, laid out a strategy for miraculously closing that huge gap in the polls.
It is the same strategy Republicans could use well to defeat Senator Obama should his current momentum propel him to win the Democratic presidential nomination.