Republican National Convention trivia

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Story highlights

  • 2012 is the fifth time the two major conventions have come on back-to-back weeks
  • Democrats issued their first party platform at their 1840 convention in Baltimore
  • Barry Goldwater in 1960: "Let's grow up, conservatives."
  • In 1860, Lincoln supporters packed the hall after receiving counterfeit tickets
With Republicans gathering in Tampa, Florida, for their party's convention, here are a few facts about the Grand Old Party's party:
Convention timing
• 2012 marks the fifth time that the two major party conventions have been held on back-to-back weeks. This also happened in 1912, 1916, 1956, and most recently in 2008.
Early convention milestones
• The first Democratic convention was held in Baltimore in 1832. Twenty-two of the 23 states sent delegates as President Andrew Jackson was nominated for a second term.
• The first Republican convention was held in Philadelphia in 1856. Nearly 600 delegates participated, representing all of the Northern states, the border states of Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky, and Virginia (as well as D.C.). There were no delegates from the Southern slave states.
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Touring the floor of the RNC in Tampa
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• At its 1832 convention, the Democratic Party established the now famous tradition of the presidential roll call vote, passing a resolution requiring that "the majority of the delegates from each state designate the person by whom the votes for that state shall be given."
• The Democrats issued their first party platform at their 1840 convention (also in Baltimore). The platform contained fewer than 1,000 words.
Noteworthy GOP convention speeches
• In 1992, Pat Buchanan declared, "There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we will one day be as was the Cold War itself." The speech rallied conservatives, but is widely assumed to have alienated moderates.
• At the 1960 Republican convention in Chicago, Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater proclaimed, "Let's grow up, conservatives. If we want to take this party back, and I think we can some day, let's go to work." Four years later, Goldwater captured the Republican nomination.
• In 1952, Gen. Douglas MacArthur became the first war hero to deliver a major party's keynote address. MacArthur biographer William Manchester writes that the "delegates were babbling so much among themselves that the general could scarcely be heard."
Notable Republican convention fights
• In 1976, an early indication of President Gerald Ford's eventual victory over challenger Ronald Reagan came when the Reagan forces narrowly lost a vote that would have forced Ford to name his running mate before the presidential roll call vote.
• In 1952, Illinois Sen. Everett Dirksen caused an uproar when, during his speech, he charged New York Gov. Thomas E. Dewey and other moderates with taking the GOP "down the path to defeat." Dewey's (and Dwight Eisenhower's) followers booed Dirksen, Dirksen's (and Sen. Robert Taft's) supporters booed Dewey, and fist fights broke out on the floor. The convention ultimately nominated Eisenhower over the more conservative Taft after a dispute over several contested Southern delegations was settled in favor of Eisenhower.
• In 1932, a proposed platform plank calling for the repeal of Prohibition was defeated by a vote of 690- 460.
• In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was nominated on the third ballot, surprising supporters of New York Sen. William H. Seward, who had entered the convention expecting an easy victory on the first ballot. The convention delegates were influenced by a large number of Lincoln supporters, who packed the convention hall after receiving counterfeit tickets from Lincoln's campaign workers.