The 1996 Republican presidential primaries were the selection process by which voters of the Republican Party chose its nominee for President of the United States in the 1996 U.S. presidential election. Senator Bob Dole of Kansas, the former Senate Majority Leader was selected as the nominee through a series of primary elections and caucuses culminating in the 1996 Republican National Convention held from August 12 to August 15, 1996, in San Diego, California; Dole resigned from the Senate in June 1996 once he became the presumptive nominee to concentrate on his presidential campaign.


Following the 1994 midterm elections, many prominent candidates entered what would be a crowded field. This was expected as Democratic President Bill Clinton was unpopular in his first two years in office, eventually leading to the Republican Revolution. However, as Clinton became increasingly popular in his third year in office, several withdrew from the race or decided not to run. Former U.S. Army Gen. Colin L. Powell was widely courted as a potential Republican nominee. However, on November 8, 1995, Powell announced that he would not seek the nomination. Former Secretary of Defense and future Vice President of the United States Dick Cheney was touted by many as a possible candidate for the presidency, but he declared his intentions not to run in early 1995. Then-Texas Governor George W. Bush was also urged by some party leaders to seek the Republican Party nomination, but opted against doing so.

Primary race overview

Going into the 1996 primary contest, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole was widely seen as the front runner. Dole had significant name recognition, as he was a two time presidential candidate - in 1980 and 1988, and Republican vice-presidential nominee in 1976. He was expected to win the nomination against underdog candidates such as the more conservative U.S. Senator Phil Gramm of Texas and more centrist U.S. Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. The fragmented field of candidates, which also included journalist and 1992 presidential candidate Pat Buchanan and magazine publisher Steve Forbes, debated issues such as a flat tax and other tax cut proposals, and a return to supply-side economic policies popularized by Ronald Reagan. Former Governor of Tennessee, Lamar Alexander, had promising showings in the early Iowa and New Hampshire primaries--finishing third in both contests behind only Dole and Buchanan--but his support dropped off in later primaries and he ultimately failed to win any state's delegates. (see "1996 Republican primary and caucus results" table below). Alan Keyes, who served as Reagan's Ambassador to the United Nations Economic and Social Council and Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, was notable for being the only African American candidate in the race, but he ultimately failed to garner much support. More attention was drawn to the race by the budget stalemate in 1995 between the Congress and the President, which caused temporary shutdowns and slowdowns in many areas of federal government service. On January 29, Buchanan won a non-binding straw poll in Alaska. Most pundits dismissed Buchanan's showing as insignificant. On February 6, Buchanan won the Louisiana caucus. Buchanan and Gramm had made several trips to the state to campaign. Gramm was expected to win, due to being from neighboring Texas and having the support of many of the Louisiana party regulars. The candidates met in Des Moines for a Presidential Candidates Forum. Dole won the Iowa Caucus with 26% of the vote, a considerably smaller margin of victory than was expected. Gramm's poor showing in Louisiana plus placing 5th in Iowa's caucuses resulted in his withdrawal from the contest on the Sunday before the New Hampshire primary. In the New Hampshire Primary, Buchanan recorded a surprising victory over Dole, who finished in second place. After disappointing showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, Steve Forbes bounced back in the primaries in Delaware and Arizona. Forbes, along with Alan Keyes, were the only two candidates for the Republican nomination who campaigned in Delaware (According to R.W. Apple writing for ''The New York Times'', "People in Delaware began calling their primary the Rodney Dangerfield election -- it couldn't get any respect. That angered many local residents, like a woman at a Wilmington polling place this evening, who said that the New Hampshire officials who twisted the candidates' arms nto not coming to Delaware to campaign while the New Hampshire primary was ongoinghad ‘acted like little kids.’") giving Forbes an easy victory in the small state. "This state is the tax-cutting capital of the country and Steve Forbes got his tax-cutting message across." Former Delaware Governor Pete du Pont said following the announcement of Forbes's victory. The bigger triumph for the Forbes campaign was in Arizona. Buchanan campaigned vigorously in Arizona in hopes of securing a crucial victory over Dole, with Buchanan even donning a cowboy costume while on the campaign trail. Faulty polling by the Dole campaign lured Dole into a false sense of security, making Dole think that the state would be an easy victory for him and he would not have to spend much time campaigning in Arizona. After the votes were counted, Buchanan finished a devastating third place, Dole was the runner-up, and Forbes pulled off a shocking, come-from-behind victory. Exit polls showed that Forbes's support came from those who voted for third party candidate Ross Perot back in 1992, as well as from the large number of voters who cited "taxes" as the most important issue of the race and those who viewed Buchanan as too "extreme" and Dole as too moderate and "mainstream". Forbes would quickly lose the momentum he built up in Delaware and Arizona, but these back-to-back victories convinced many that Forbes was a serious contender. Buchanan's and Forbes's early victories put Dole's expected front runner status in doubt during the formative months of the primary season. Dole won every primary after including North and South Dakota; this eventually gave him enough delegate commitments to claim status as the GOP presidential presumptive nominee. Having collected only 21 percent of the total votes in Republican primaries and won four states, Buchanan suspended his campaign in March. He declared however that, if Dole were to choose a pro-choice running mate, he would run as the US Taxpayers Party (now Constitution Party) candidate. Forbes also withdrew in March having won only two states. Dole resigned his Senate seat on June 11 in order to focus more intently on his presidential campaign. After becoming the nominee, Dole selected the former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development of the Bush administration, Jack Kemp, as his running mate.



File:Bob Dole bioguide.jpg|Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas

Withdrew during convention

File:Patrickjbuchanan.JPG|Former presidential advisor Pat Buchanan of Virginia

Withdrew during primaries

File:Lamar Alexander black and white photo.jpg|Former Governor and Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander of Tennessee (March 6, 1996) File:RobertDornan.jpg|U.S. Congressman Bob Dornan of California File:Steve_Forbes.jpg|Steve Forbes of New Jersey, magazine owner and publisher (March 14, 1996) File:PhilGramm (1).jpg|U.S. Senator Phil Gramm of Texas (February 14, 1996) File:Alan Keyes (1).jpg|Former diplomat Alan Keyes of Maryland File:Dick Lugar official photo.jpg|U.S. Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana (March 6, 1996) File:No_image.svg|Titan International President Morry Taylor of Michigan (March 9, 1996)

Withdrew before primary elections

File:Arlen Specter official portrait.jpg|U.S. Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania File:Pete Wilson meeting with Les Aspin, Feb 3, 1993 - cropped to Wilson.JPEG|Governor and former U.S. Senator Pete Wilson of California File:Arthur-Fletcher - Department of Labor.jpg|Chair of the United States Commission on Civil Rights Arthur Fletcher of Washington D.C.

Other Minor Candidates

File:Jack Fellure (cropped).jpg|Retired engineer Jack Fellure of West Virginia

Declined to run

* Howard Baker, former Senate Majority Leader from Tennessee * James Baker, former Secretary of State * Bill Bennett, former Secretary of Education * George W. Bush, Governor of Texas * Carroll Campbell, former Governor of South Carolina * Dick Cheney, former Secretary of Defense * Pete du Pont, former Governor of Delaware * John Engler, Governor of Michigan * Newt Gingrich, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives * Tom Kean, former Governor of New Jersey * Lynn Morley Martin, former Secretary of Labor * John McCain, Senator from Arizona * Oliver North, Retired United States Marine Corps Colonel * Colin Powell, Retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff * Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense * Dan Quayle, former Vice President * Tommy Thompson, Governor of Wisconsin * Bill Weld, Governor of Massachusetts * Christine Todd Whitman, Governor of New Jersey * Donald Trump, Businessman




Overall popular primaries vote * Bob Dole - 9,024,742 (58.82%) * Pat Buchanan - 3,184,943 (20.76%) * Steve Forbes - 1,751,187 (11.41%) * Lamar Alexander - 495,590 (3.23%) * Alan Keyes - 471,716 (3.08%) * Richard Lugar - 127,111 (0.83%) * Unpledged - 123,278 (0.80%) * Phil Gramm - 71,456 (0.47%) * Bob Dornan - 42,140 (0.28%) * Morry Taylor - 21,180 (0.14%) Convention tally: * Bob Dole 1,928 * Pat Buchanan 43 * Steve Forbes 2 * Alan Keyes 1 * Robert Bork 1

Notable endorsements

Bob Dole * Former Senator and 1964 Presidential nominee Barry Goldwater of Arizona * Governor George W. Bush of Texas * Senator Bill Roth of Delaware * Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming * Senator Al D'Amato of New York * Former Governor Pete du Pont of Delaware * Former Governor George Wallace of Alabama Pat Buchanan * Governor Mike Foster of Louisiana * State Senator Dick Mountjoy of California * Former U.S. National Security Advisor Richard Allen * Former Governor Evan Mecham of Arizona Steve Forbes * Former Congressman and HUD Secretary Jack Kemp of New York * Former Senator Gordon Humphrey of New Hampshire * U.S. Rep. Frank Cremeans of Ohio. * U.S. Rep. Bob Franks of New Jersey. Lamar Alexander * Former Governor Tom Kean of New Jersey * Former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett Phil Gramm * Senator John McCain of Arizona * Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas Pete Wilson * Governor Bill Weld of Massachusetts * Perot's 1992 running-mate and retired admiral James Stockdale of Illinois

Convention and VP Selection

The delegates at the Republican National Convention formally nominated Dole on August 15, 1996 as the GOP presidential candidate for the general election. Dole was the oldest first-time presidential nominee at the age of 73 years, 1 month (Ronald Reagan was 73 years, 6 months in 1984, for his second presidential nomination). Former Congressman and Cabinet secretary Jack Kemp was nominated by acclamation as Dole's running mate the following day. Republican Party of Texas convention delegates informally nominated Alan Keyes as their preference for Vice President. Other politicians mentioned as possible GOP V.P. nominees before Kemp was selected included: File:JamesBaker.jpeg|Former Secretary of State James Baker of Texas File:Carroll A Campbell.jpg|Former Governor Carroll Campbell of South Carolina File:Secretary of Defense Richard B. Cheney, official portrait.jpg|Former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney of Wyoming File:JimEdgar2013.png|Governor Jim Edgar of Illinois File:John Engler.jpg|Governor John Engler of Michigan File:Kay Bailey Hutchison, official photo 2.jpg|U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas File:John Kasich.jpg|U.S. Congressman John Kasich of Ohio File:DanLungren 2009.jpg|State Attorney General Dan Lungren of California File:Dick Lugar official photo.jpg|U.S. Senator Dick Lugar of Indiana File:Connie Mack III.jpg|U.S. Senator Connie Mack III of Florida File:John McCain.jpg|U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona File:GEN Colin Powell.JPG|General Colin Powell of New York File:Tom Ridge.jpg|Governor Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania File:Rumsfeld1.jpg|Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld of Illinois File:Antonin Scalia official SCOTUS portrait crop.jpg|Associate Justice Antonin Scalia of the District of Columbia File:Tommy Thompson 1.jpg|Governor Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin File:George Voinovich.jpg|Governor George Voinovich of Ohio File:WhitmanChristineTodd.jpg|Governor Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey

See also

* 1996 Democratic Party presidential primaries


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