Inland Northwest visits
President Gerald Ford visited the Inland Northwest on several occasions during and after his political career. Here are a few notable visits culled from The Spokesman-Review archives.
Described as a “dark horse” candidate for president, Rep. Gerald Ford, R-Mich., spoke at a fund-raiser in the Marie Antoinette room of the Davenport Hotel, then left afterward for a plane to Salt Lake.
Vice President Ford announces plans to appear in Spokane for the conclusion of Expo ‘74. Newspaper accounts said he planned to deliver a “major policy address on environmental issues” at his Aug. 15 appearance. As the summer wore on - and the Nixon presidency collapsed - people in Spokane wondered how it might affect the planned visit.
Oct. 29, 1974
A couple of months after being sworn in as the 38th president, Ford officially cancels plans to visit Expo, ending hopes for a second presidential visit to the city that year. President Richard Nixon had opened the event six months earlier. The Spokesman-Review story the following day said, “(Gov. Dan) Evans said he was disappointed that President Ford will not be able to participate in the closing ceremonies but was delighted that Anne Armstrong (counselor to the President) will represent the White House at the function.”
Ford records an announcement to close Expo ‘74 in Portland.
Aug. 24, 1975
President Ford appeared with other leaders from America and Canada to commemorate the opening of the $466 million Libby, Mont., dam. Ford praised the dam for providing “homegrown energy,” flood control and new recreational opportunities on its reservoir. “I doubt if medical science will ever find a better tranquilizer than a boat, a fishing pole and a lazy afternoon,” he said.
Campaigning for re-election and for regional Republicans, Ford appeared in Seattle, where he told a crowd of Boeing workers, “You should be proud of the work you do here in building these great planes.” He also took a hydrofoil tour of Elliott Bay and was greeted briefly by protesting gill-net fishermen, who flew black flags and honked their horns over their displeasure over the shooting of a gill-netter by a state agent.
Ford addresses 600 people at the Richland Chamber of Commerce’s seventh annual banquet, criticizing President Jimmy Carter’s policies as an “economic disaster.” The dinner was at Columbia High School, catered by the Hanford House Thunderbird, press accounts said.
April 1, 1980
Ford speaks to a crowd of about 850 at the Pacific International Restaurant, Hotel and Fast Food convention, an event that was “punctuated with applause only once - when he called for more, not less nuclear power,” according to The Spokesman-Review.
Ford hits campaign events in Yakima ($50 a plate) and Seattle ($150 a plate), and blasts Carter on the economy. “I handed Jimmy Carter the economy of the country on a silver platter - and he blew it.”
April 14, 1982
Ford is the keynote speaker at the 100th anniversary celebration of the founding of Eastern Washington University in Cheney. Ford also speaks in Spokane, and presents Distinguished Eagle Scout awards to two men. EWU president George Frederickson said, “If you can’t get the current president, then get a past dignitary.”
June 18, 1990
Ford stopped in Spokane to refuel on a flight from Denver to Alaska. During the half-hour he spent at Spokane Airways, he chatted with a Spokesman-Review reporter as former British Prime Minister James Callaghan and others waited in the plane. “Anxious Spokane Airways workers found a small, rubber backed rug to serve as the red carpet, and wiped a few oil spills off the tarmac before the plane landed,” the newspaper reported.
Ford shot a 23-over-par 95 at a charity golf tournament in Redmond, Wash.
Ford and his wife, Betty, spend a week fishing, golfing and vacationing at the home of a friend in Hope, Idaho. “A very good friend of ours from Germany has a place there and has invited five or six couples to spend a few days relaxing and enjoying that beautiful part of the country,” Ford told The Spokesman-Review in a phone interview from his office in Beaver Creek, Colo. During the visit, the wife of former British prime minister James Callaghan was treated at Bonner General Hospital for a blood clot.
Shawn Vestal, staff writer