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1996 Republican National Convention

1996 Republican National Convention
1996 Presidential Election
Dole and Kemp
Date(s) August 12–August 15, 1996
City San Diego, California
Venue San Diego Convention Center
Keynote speaker Susan Molinari
Presidential nominee Bob Dole of Kansas
Vice Presidential nominee Jack Kemp of New York

The 1996 National Convention of the Republican Party of the United States convened at the San Diego Convention Center (SDCC) in San Diego, California, from August 12 to August 15, 1996. The convention nominated Bob Dole, former Senator from Kansas, for President and Jack Kemp, former Representative from suburban Buffalo, New York, and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, for Vice President.


  • Political context 1
  • Order of speakers 2
    • August 12 2.1
    • August 13 2.2
    • August 14 2.3
      • Presidential nomination 2.3.1
      • Vice Presidential tally 2.3.2
    • August 15 2.4
  • Logistics 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Political context

After a bitter primary, Dole had secured the Republican nomination—but at high cost, financially and politically. The Party had lost momentum after President Bill Clinton successfully co-opted the historically Republican issues of crime and welfare reform and portrayed House Speaker Newt Gingrich as an extremist.

Within his own party, Dole was under pressure from both sides of the political spectrum. Social liberals such as California Governor Pete Wilson and Massachusetts Governor William Weld loudly argued to remove the Human Life Amendment plank from the convention platform. On the right, primary opponents Patrick Buchanan and Alan Keyes withheld endorsements—Buchanan staged a rally for his supporters in nearby Escondido on the eve of the San Diego convention.[1] Indeed, past comments by Kemp labeling Dole as a tax-raiser surfaced. The long, bitter primary had also left the Dole campaign short of funds as a result of federal election spending limits in the months leading up to the convention.

The Dole campaign sought to use the convention to unite the party, to appeal to political moderates, and to highlight Dole's honorable service in Christian Coalition directed the convention to adopt a conservative platform with little controversy, and Buchanan released his delegates at the last minute.

The convention ran smoothly overall, and the Dole-Kemp team seemed to benefit in the short term. Opinion polls taken shortly after the conclusion of the convention showed the Republicans with a significant "bump" of increased support. However, this bump was extremely temporary, and they continued to trail the incumbent Clinton-Gore team; they went on to lose the election by almost nine points.

Order of speakers

August 12

August 13

August 14

Presidential nomination

Senator John McCain placed Bob Dole's name in nomination

Republican National Convention presidential vote, 1996[3]
Candidate Votes Percentage
Bob Dole 1928 97%
Pat Buchanan 47 2.29%
Steve Forbes 2 0.1%
Alan Keyes and
Robert Bork
1 each 0.05% each
Totals 2,066 100.00%

Vice Presidential tally

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development was nominated by voice vote.

August 15

  • Vice-Presidential nominee Jack Kemp
  • Presidential nominee Bob Dole


The San Diego Convention Center was the site of the 1996 Republican National Convention

The 1996 RNC was the first presidential nominating convention to be held in San Diego, and the only Republican National Convention held in Southern California. (The 1972 RNC was scheduled for the San Diego Sports Arena but relocated to Miami Beach, Florida, due to scandal.)[4] Indeed, San Diego's bid had been considered unlikely to win. The SDCC was far smaller than its predecessor venues, the Astrodome in Houston and the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, and its normal seating layout left several sections and skyboxes with obstructed views. Ardent lobbying by Mayor Susan Golding, who some named as a potential candidate for U.S. Senate in 1998, and by Governor Wilson, himself to seek the 1996 presidential nomination, helped secure San Diego's selection in 1994. The San Diego Host Committee, "Sail to Victory '96," was organized on September 8, 1995.

It would also be the first national party convention since the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, which sparked heightened concerns over terrorism. The possibility that the explosion of TWA Flight 800 weeks before was a terrorist incident also weighed on convention planners. The Convention Center was located on the waterfront, near a harbor frequented by thousands of small boats—upon one of which Dole and Kemp made their ceremonial arrival. The police, Coast Guard, and other security presence was massive.

Convention planners situated the designated protest area several blocks away from the convention center, sparking criticism and legal action. It was later moved to a parking lot closer to the building which had originally been designated as a transportation center for the handicapped.

The convention was successful for San Diego, bringing positive publicity to the city and its revitalized waterfront and Gaslamp Quarter. The convention committee, however, overran its budget by some $20 million, largely because of the extra costs of security.


  1. ^ Buchanan Rejects Offer for Small Role at Convention. The New York Times. July 30, 1996.
  2. ^ Gifts of Speech - Nancy Reagan
  3. ^ "Republican Convention 2000". The Green Papers. Archived from the original on 6 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-29. 
  4. ^ Ancona, Vincent S. (Fall 1992). "When the Elephants Marched Out of San Diego". The Journal of San Diego History 38 (4) (San Diego Historical Society). Retrieved July 8, 2013. 

External links

  • PBS Online NewsHour: Convention: The GOP in San Diego, archive including transcripts, analysis, photographs, and streaming audio.
  • CNN AllPolitics: 1996 Republican National Convention, archived fact, news, chat and speech transcripts, and links
  • EmergencyNet News Service: GOP National Convention Security Plan, August 10, 1996
Preceded by
Houston, Texas
Republican National Conventions Succeeded by
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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