CONVENTION '96: SITTING PRETTY

WHY DO AMERICANS SEEM READY TO RE-ELECT THIS PRESIDENT DESPITE THE DISTRUST AND AMBIVALENCE HE AROUSES IN SO MANY OF THEM? WE OFFER SOME THEORIES

As Republicans assembled in Dallas to renominate Ronald Reagan 12 years ago, the incumbent President had already achieved mythic status. He led his Democratic opponent, Walter Mondale, by an impressive 14 points in the opinion polls. The re-election campaign was considered to be a virtual formality. Even Reagan's opponents conceded his "magic" and had all but given up seething about it. "Not since Dwight Eisenhower," wrote TIME in its convention issue, "has the U.S. public felt such fondness for its leader." TIME's Hugh Sidey declared of Reagan, "He is a refrain from Stars and Stripes Forever."

It is safe to predict...

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