Although the tradition of political conventions has changed greatly over the years—in the past, presidential nominees were actually chosen at conventions; today the events serve more as a coronation—they remain prominent stepping stones for both parties as the nation prepares for Election Day.
It’s too early to tell whether this year’s Republican national convention (currently underway in Tampa, FL) will yield any history-making moments, but in honor of the event, NPR’s Political Junkie Ken Rudin has rounded up some of the most memorable moments of GOP Conventions past. Here are some of his picks:
- 1976: After narrowly losing his party’s nomination to Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan delivered an impromptu concession speech urging the party to unite. With its inspiring words, Reagan’s address overshadowed Ford’s own acceptance speech and set the stage for his nomination four years later.
- 1980: The dramatic moment of the 1980 GOP convention in Detroit came when Reagan shocked the delegates by announcing George H. W. Bush (who had been his rival during the primaries) as his running mate.
- 2008: Sarah Palin’s speech accepting her nomination for vice president, which included her famous line about hockey moms and pit bulls, will forever be remembered as one of the highlights of the 2008 convention. Palin remains one of the party’s most controversial figures.
As the Democratic National Convention kicks off in Charlotte, NC next week, check back for more historic moments!
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