President Ford Campaigning - September 1976

President Ford on the campaign trail. Playing catch-up.

September 5, 1976 – Ford And Carter On The Campaign Trail – The Situation In Soweto

President Ford Campaigning - September 1976
President Ford on the campaign trail. Playing catch-up.
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September 5, 1976 – President Ford and Governor Jimmy Carter hot on the campaign trail, while back in Washington, plans were being finalized over the Debates; three between Presidential candidates and one between vice-Presidential candidates. Jimmy Carter’s campaign was slated to officially open on Labor Day, but his un-official campaign led him to Washington and to what observers thought was another misstep along the trail as some thought he called attention to his problems with the Abortion issue when he addressed a Catholic Bishops conference to speak of his personal opposition to Abortion. Needless to say, Carter got a chilly reception. According to the Bishops, Carter’s personal opposition to Abortion wasn’t enough, it needed to extend to the law itself. More successful was an appearance before Labor leaders to ask their support and to attack the Administration’s labor policies.

For their part, the Ford Campaign launched with the point that “you should keep the President you have”, coming on the same day the unemployment figures were released and were found to have risen in August. This, hot on the heels of Ford promising to keep “unemployment down to 7% by the end of the year” didn’t exactly inspire confidence, as even economists feared the 7% figure wasn’t achievable by the end of 1976. Ford present a proposal for doubling National Park land, a move which some though was purely political and that Ford was coming late to the idea and trying to make hay with the late bid to Congress.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world: with his tenure at the State Department possibly coming to close, Secretary Henry Kissinger launched a monumental exercise in personal diplomacy to avert a racial catastrophe in South Africa. Black-White confrontations in southern Africa were increasing and spiraling out of control in Soweto as well as Namibia and White-ruled Rhodesia, over which South Africa wields great influence. Kissing began a three day conference with Premier John Vorster in Zurich, Switzerland, while Black leaders were preparing a summit session of their own in Tanzania. Days before the Zurich meeting, almost symbolically, racial trouble exploded in the streets of Capetown. The general fear among the White Minority was that Jimmy Carter would win in November and it would signal an end to White rule and bring in Majority (Black) rule and that this conference with Kissinger was a last-ditch effort to avert that.

All that, and so much more for this broadcast of The Washington Week and World This Week from CBS Radio on September 5, 1976.

Demonstrations turned violent in Soweto
The view from Soweto – teargas, attack dogs and bullets.

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