Most memorable convention moments


Greatest Convention Moments

Most memorable convention moments

From inspiring speeches to rioting crowds, national party conventions are filled with colorful moments. Here's a look at some of the unforgettable moments from decades recent and long-gone.

Teddy Roosevelt "steamroller"
Teddy Roosevelt unsuccessfully challenged William Howard Taft for the nomination before going on to run the most successful third party campaign in American presidential history. Notably, he accused Taft's supporters, who were in clear control of the convention's political machinery, of "steamroller tactics," and his supporters accordingly demonstrated this during the convention by "rubbing sandpaper and blowing horns to imitate the sounds of a steamroller."


Radio coverage
The 1924 Republican National Convention becomes the first national party convention to be broadcast live on the radio.


Roosevelt nomination
Franklin Delano Roosevelt flies to Chicago to deliver his acceptance speech in person, the first time this was ever done, setting a national precedent.


Voice from the sewers
Chicago Superintendent of Sewers Thomas D. Garry hides in a basement below the Chicago Stadium. When Sen. Alben W. Barkley mentions President Roosevelt's name in a speech, Garry shouts through a microphone hooked up to the stadium's loudspeakers, "We want Roosevelt! The world wants Roosevelt!" The chant was taken up by affiliates planted throughout the stadium, propelling Roosevelt to win the nomination.


Dixiecrat walk-out
A sizable portion of Southern Democrats withdrew from the 1948 DNC in response to the party platform's growing friendliness toward civil rights support. The party's support for civil rights was particularly marked by Mayor Hubert Humphrey's aggressively pro-integration speech, and this convention marked the official split within the Democratic Party over the issue of segregation. They reconvened three days later, with the other Southern Democrats, in Birmingham, Ala., and founded the States' Rights Party, nominating Strom Thurmond for president.


Goldwater nomination
Barry Goldwater is nominated by the Republican National Convention in 1964, starting an era of more conservative Republicanism that would lead to the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.


Chicago riots
Widespread protests, riots and violent demonstrations protesting the Vietnam War surrounded the DNC in Chicago and garnered massive media coverage.


Kennedy-Carter snub
After delivering an immensely effective speech, Ted Kennedy overtly gave presidential nominee Jimmy Carter the cold shoulder the following night. He arrived late for the acceptance speech, appeared to deliberately avoid Carter on-stage after Carter's acceptance, forcing Carter to find him amidst the crowd, and then, when he finally did shake Carter's hand, refused to lift it in the air in the traditional demonstration of party unity.


Carter 'hornblower' remark
Jimmy Carter, during his acceptance speech, misidentified a certain Minneapolis mayor before quickly correcting himself: "And the party of a great man who should have been president, who would have been one of the greatest presidents in history, Hubert Horatio Hornblower - Humphrey."


George H. W. Bush's nomination acceptance speech
In his 1988 RNC nomination acceptance speech, George H. W. Bush delivered one of the most memorable convention one-liners: "Read my lips: No new taxes!"


Casey snub
Anti-abortion activist and Pennsylvania Gov. Robert P. Casey is denied the right to speak at the 1992 DNC in New York City.


Tipper-Gore kiss
After being introduced by his wife at the 2000 DNC, Al Gore then engaged in an amazingly protracted 3-second kiss with her. The kiss was subsequently analyzed to death by hundreds of viewers, commentators and news analysts, many of whom speculated that it was a deliberate effort to humanize the 'robotic' presidential candidate.

Photos courtesy of Reuters, Jimmy Carter Library, JFK Presidential Library and Museum, National Arhives and Records Administration and the Library of Congress.
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