The Nation: Defense: The Numbers Game

Those who are behind, said President Ford, "try harder—and sometimes swing wilder too." Ford was trying to dismiss one of Challenger Ronald Reagan's wild, but nonetheless effective swings: his claims that the President and his old colleagues in Congress had allowed the Soviet Union to surpass the U.S. in military might. Reagan's startling victories in Texas and Indiana seemed in part to show that he was on to a hot campaign issue: whether the U.S. has indeed become No. 2 behind the Soviets in military strength. It is also a familiar topic in U.S. political history; the "missile gap" argument was...

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