MSNBC ran news footage from an NBC Nightly News report that aired six days before the 1976 GOP Convention. The Reagan and Ford campaigns were in dispute over the rules regarding how delegates would be allocated this convention.
The issue at hand was whether delegates should cast their votes parallel to the results of their state primary contests or if delegates should cast their votes based on their personal choice of candidate. During the 76 convention, 19 states bound their delegates to the results of their state primaries for the first time.
The new rule, at the time, limited the chance for rebellious delegates who refused to vote to force a second ballot. The new mandate maintained their votes would be recorded any way, whether the delegates cast them or not.
Curly Haugland, a Republican National Committee Standing Committee Rules member, reaffirmed to MSNBC the 1976 rule was later rescinded during the 1980 convention.
“Well, I’ve been maintaining for years, of course that binding is kind of an offensive concept and, recently, I just discovered this material that led to the clip that you produced there that shows that in fact 1976 was the first and only presidential convention year where the delegates were actually bound by convention rules to force — to force them to vote according to the results of primary elections,” said Haugland.
He later explained that the next Republican convention four years later repealed the the binding delegate rule, known as the “Justice Resolution.”
“That was the one and only presidential convention where the delegates were actually bound because promptly in 1980 at the next convention reversed that, repealed that, rescinded that amendment and that language still exists today in our rules the delegates are not bound, they’re true to vote their conscious on all issues before the convention and on the nominations,” he said.
Haugland pointed out that that his claims about the rules relating to the binding of delegates have been ongoing since 2008. However, most RNC members did not pay attention to him, particularly when the Romney campaign managed to persuade members to change the delegate rules in 2012 to say a GOP candidate must have the majority of support of delegates from at least eight states to qualify as the nominee for the party.