In 1974, Nixon had become the first US president to resign, following the Watergate scandal. Vice President Gerald R. Ford succeeded him and, following tough competition from California governor Ronald Reagan in the primaries, was voted in as the Republican presidential candidate. For the Democrats, Jimmy Carter emerged as a frontrunner. Despite limited political experience, he had a well-planned strategy and entered nearly all of the primaries, aiming for maximum exposure. He was nominated to run for the Democrats, entering a close election race that politically focussed on the economy and tactically played upon the candidates’ personalities. Incumbent President Ford only began campaigning in person late on, while Carter had been out working hard on the campaign trail. Carter went on to outshine Ford in three television debates, and crucially managed to attract Southern support. Ford was unable to overcome the aftermath of Watergate and Vietnam, and Carter’s intense campaigning and promises of change paid off, giving him the winning edge.
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