July 16, 1980 – Convention: Detroit – Gearing Up For The Reagan Years And Dubious Funding
July 16, 1980 – The news was from Detroit this day and the GOP convention taking place at the Joe Louis Arena. And while the attention was on Ronald Reagan and November, there were certain nagging concerns popping up which could have implications for the future. Campaign spending was undergoing something of a change thanks to loopholes. During the Convention, some new Reagan For President television commercials were unveiled and scheduled to run at the end of the week. And even though, by all appearances, they were paid for by the Reagan For President Committee, they were if fact not funded by the Reagan campaign, nor the GOP. They were not indicated to be “official campaign ads”, but rather privately funded ads coming from outside the campaign. The reason why this was controversial was that, Federal guidelines for Campaign funding was structured to limit spending by both candidates on their “official” campaigns, the supposedly independent advertising projects could throw the campaign dangerously out of balance, and perhaps unfairly tip the scales against President Carter. The Federal Election Campaign laws were passed in reaction to the excesses of Watergate, in an effort to remove the power and corrupting influence of private money giving in Presidential elections. At the time, Congress limited the amount of money candidates could spend on their campaigns and also limited the amount that independent individuals and groups could spend on behalf of candidates. But The Supreme Court declared the second provision unconstitutional, saying that it violated the First Amendment rights of people to effectively express their political views. That opened a loophole that permitted Conservative Reagan supporters to form allegedly “Independent” groups that plan to spend millions of dollars on TV and Radio ads, praising Reagan and blasting Carter. In theory, Cater supporters could do the same, but they said the whole idea violated the concept of limited campaign spending. Several lawsuits were filed pending the legality of this new strategy. Among them were suits that claimed the first Amendment argument protecting the free speech rights of individuals and small groups did not apply to well-heeled, nationwide fundraising campaigns, geared to raise and spend millions of dollars. The big fear was that Presidential campaigns would be so out of balance that the laws governing campaign spending would need to be scrapped and new legislation be introduced.
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Meanwhile – The party atmosphere of the convention carried on. The previous night belonged to Barry Goldwater and it was anticipated that this night would be Ronald Reagan’s. Amid all the shows of Party Unity there were a few nagging questions; most notably why no Black GOP delegates were scheduled to make major speeches before the convention. The Black delegates protested and demanded The NAACP’s Benjamin Hooks address the convention. They won, and Hooks delivered an address where he warned the GOP that excluding Blacks and other minorities would have long-lasting and detrimental affects to the party and he asked the Republicans to re-examine their positions on the Equal Rights Amendment, Capital punishment and Abortion. And so went the view from Detroit.
All that, and so much more for this July 16, 1980 as presented by CBS Radio’s Firstline Report, World News Roundup and Hourly News.