'Aura of good feeling' will be the hallmark of Reagan campaign
This GOP convention is setting a tone that Ronald Reagan intends to carry on throughout the campaign and, if he wins, into his administration, say his top campaign aides.
"An aura of good feeling," is the Reagan view of the Detroit scene. And he is considering using this phrase as his slogan for his goals for the presidency.
Sources close to the California provide a picture of Mr. Reagan's blueprint for the future, a campaign to bring the country together. He believes the nation needs a president that can preside over a people united, a people inspired with new hope.
Reagan thus intends to take the high road in his campaign oratory, hoping thereby to avoid a bitter battle with President Carter.
"He wants very much to be in a position after the election where he can bring the Democrats behind him, too," one aide says. "He wouldn't be so presumptuous as to see himself as another Eisenhower. But his prime objective is to get Americans to like each other again, to live peacefully with each other again -- to re-establish Eisenhower's period of good feeling."
Mr. Reagan particularly liked the optimistic tone struck by the Gerald Ford address. He is known to have told one key Reagan backer that this is precisely what he wants to be telling the American people all along the campaign trail -- that there is hope, that problems are solvable, and that he intends to provide solutions.
In fact, in Reagan's long conference with Ford on Tuesday, he asked the former president for further ideas on how he could continue with this theme. Thus, it was expected that in his acceptance speech the Californian would to some extent echo Mr. Ford's eloquent words of faith in the future of the US.
"Mr. Reagan sees his role as a healer," one aide says. "He thinks he can do much to heal the nation's ills. But until he gets to the presidency he thinks it is important that he reassure the people with a good, cheerful bedside manner."
Reagan, unlike Carter as a candidate, will not provide the public with a long list of specific promises.
"Reagan feels that unfulfilled Carter promises have contributed heavily to the lack of presidental credibility in this country," an aide says.
"He'll continue to make his commitments in more general terms -- commitments toward economic betterment and a stronger military, for example. But he'll simply tell the people that he intends to move the country in those directions -- not that he will accomplish the goals overnight."
Reagan is pictured as believing that one of his first objectives must be, and is, to bring credibility back to the presidency.
Finally, Reagan is known to believe that the Republican Party is coming out of this convention with a clarity of purpose and a common desire to bury disagreements in the interest of providing a new approach to governing the nation.
"Mr. Reagan feels," an aide says, "that for the first time since Watergate the Republican Party is in a position to find a new beginning, a fresh start.
"He is convinced the delegates sense this, that all Americans sense this, and that this newly acquired image of a party reborn, a party with new vigor, will give him the public support he needs, first to win, and then to govern effectively."