President Ford’s Fargo visit
Following the August 1974 tsunami of attention over Richard Nixon’s resignation and Gerald Ford becoming the new President, local citizens were adjusting to a new political climate.
In an article that August, Fargo Forum staff reporter Chet Gebert recalled a personal encounter with Ford, who had also been the House of Representatives minority leader. Ford had visited North Dakota in 1965 on behalf of the state’s lone congressman, Mark Andrews.
Ford and Andrews had flown together to Fargo on a chartered plane to attend a $25 a plate testimonial for Andrews, which was attended by 800 people in the Fargo Memorial Auditorium.
Gebert wrote: “When the yeahs for our side and the hisses for the other side remarks were completed, Ford sat down, exhausted. He smiled broadly and affected cheerful poses with candidate and party people.”
Ford’s invitations for endorsing candidates and speaking to crowds across the nation had increased since becoming the House GOP leader. He had also recently had a confrontation with President Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat, and his reputation and national profile within the GOP had grown.
In an interview at the (now gone) Town House Motor Hotel the following morning, Ford, still in stocking feet, met the reporter. Ford was chipper that morning and said his night in Fargo was the first time he had seven and a half hours of sleep in a long time.
Gebert reported that he and Ford had breakfast together in the motel room. After starting with a dish of cooked prunes, Ford had bacon, eggs, toast and coffee.
Gebert wrote, “Ford was frank about the prunes. He said, in effect, that his business made it almost mandatory that one needed prunes to get his day going.”
Dakota Datebook by Steve Stark
The Fargo Forum August 9, 1974