The silver medalist in the 2016 Republican primary battle, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, will address the GOP convention in Cleveland on Wednesday night. Only Cruz and a handful of top advisors know what he'll say, but it's likely the freshman Republican is drawing some inspiration from another staunch conservative who once failed to capture his party's nomination and then spoke at the convention as a runner-up: Ronald Reagan.
Reagan, the 40th U.S. president, ran successfully for the job in 1980 and held the White House for eight years. But four years earlier, in 1976, Reagan was the second-place primary finisher behind incumbent GOP President Gerald Ford.
Reagan, like Cruz, excited significant portions of the conservative movement but was unable to expand that support into a winning coalition. Like Cruz, he championed an unapologetic brand of conservatism and scorned a Republican establishment that kept him at arm's length.
Reagan's speech on the final night of Gerald Ford's convention in Kansas City laid out his vision for a Republican Party that differed sharply from the Democrats, painting in "bold, unmistakable colors, with no pastel shades." It was a thinly-veiled rebuke of Ford's supposed moderation - and a preview of the conservative revival Reagan would ride into the White House four years later.
Reagan's speech was actually a last-minute addition to the schedule. It came after Ford's own speech accepting the nomination, and the president thought it might be a helpful sop to Reagan's supporters. Instead, it served mostly to highlight Reagan's charisma and Ford's relative lack thereof.
Press accounts at the time suggested some delegates who heard Reagan's speech wondered whether they nominated the wrong man. The incumbent would go on to lose to Democrat Jimmy Carter in the fall.
The text of Reagan's speech is below:
Thank you very much. Mr. President, Mrs. Ford, Mr. Vice President, Mr. Vice President to be -- the distinguished guests here, and you ladies and gentlemen: I am going to say fellow Republicans here, but also those who are watching from a distance, all of those millions of Democrats and Independents who I know are looking for a cause around which to rally and which I believe we can give them.
Mr. President, before you arrived tonight, these wonderful people here when we came in gave Nancy and myself a welcome. That, plus this, and plus your kindness and generosity in honoring us by bringing us down here will give us a memory that will live in our hearts forever.
Watching on television these last few nights, and I have seen you also with the warmth that you greeted Nancy, and you also filled my heart with joy when you did that.
May I just say some words. There are cynics who say that a party platform is something that no one bothers to read and it doesn't very often amount to much.
Whether it is different this time than it has ever been before, I believe the Republican Party has a platform that is a banner of bold, unmistakable colors, with no pastel shades.
We have just heard a call to arms based on that platform, and a call to us to really be successful in communicating and reveal to the American people the difference between this platform and the platform of the opposing party, which is nothing but a revamp and a reissue and a running of a late, late show of the thing that we have been hearing from them for the last 40 years.
If I could just take a moment; I had an assignment the other day. Someone asked me to write a letter for a time capsule that is going to be opened in Los Angeles a hundred years from now, on our Tricentennial.
It sounded like an easy assignment. They suggested I write something about the problems and the issues today. I set out to do so, riding down the coast in an automobile, looking at the blue Pacific out on one side and the Santa Ynez Mountains on the other, and I couldn't help but wonder if it was going to be that beautiful a hundred years from now as it was on that summer day.
Then as I tried to write -- let your own minds turn to that task. You are going to write for people a hundred years from now, who know all about us. We know nothing about them. We don't know what kind of a world they will be living in.
And suddenly I thought to myself if I write of the problems, they will be the domestic problems the President spoke of here tonight; the challenges confronting us, the erosion of freedom that has taken place under Democratic rule in this country, the invasion of private rights, the controls and restrictions on the vitality of the great free economy that we enjoy. These are our challenges that we must meet.
And then again there is that challenge of which he spoke that we live in a world in which the great powers have poised and aimed at each other horrible missiles of destruction, nuclear weapons that can in a matter of minutes arrive at each other's country and destroy, virtually, the civilized world we live in.
And suddenly it dawned on me, those who would read this letter a hundred years from now will know whether those missiles were fired. They will know whether we met our challenge. Whether they have the freedoms that we have known up until now will depend on what we do here.
Will they look back with appreciation and say, "Thank God for those people in 1976 who headed off that loss of freedom, who kept us now 100 years later free, who kept our world from nuclear destruction"?
And if we failed, they probably won't get to read the letter at all because it spoke of individual freedom, and they won't be allowed to talk of that or read of it.
This is our challenge; and this is why here in this hall tonight, better than we have ever done before, we have got to quit talking to each other and about each other and go out and communicate to the world that we may be fewer in numbers than we have ever been, but we carry the message they are waiting for.
We must go forth from here united, determined that what a great general said a few years ago is true: There is no substitute for victory, Mr. President.
Will Cruz be able to emulate Reagan's rhetorical example and sow the seeds of his own comeback? Tune in tonight for CBS News' continuing coverage of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.