On this date in 1977, President Ford delivered a State of the Union speech that doubled as his farewell address. Although Ford had lost the presidency two months earlier to Jimmy Carter in a close, and cleanly fought, campaign, the two men were destined to become close friends.
No one knew at the time how that bond would develop, but what observant Americans did know — and were reminded of 41 years ago today — was how fortunate we had all been to have had Jerry Ford in the White House during that difficult period in American history.
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At 9:10 p.m. on January 12, 1977, House Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill Jr. introduced Gerald R. Ford for the last time in the storied chamber on Capitol Hill.
Then it was the president’s turn to speak, a man never elected to national office but who had nonetheless been thrust into the role of negotiating the twin crucibles of Watergate and Vietnam — and then been turned out of office for his troubles. Ford didn’t sound at all bitter that night. Far from it: