A look back: President Ford visits ABC13 before election

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Tuesday, November 8, 2016
President Ford visits KTRK
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Just days before the 1976 election, President Gerald Ford visited ABC13 to tape a television special

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Like you, we're all waiting on pins and needles to see how the 2016 election ends.

But 40 years ago, our newsroom was buzzing about a different election and the prospects of electing a man who became president completely by accident.

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Gerald Ford was thrust into the White House after President Richard Nixon's Watergate scandal erupted.

After a nomination challenge by then California Gov. Ronald Reagan, Ford hit the ground running to be elected as president in his own right during the 1976 election.

That campaign brought President Ford to Texas just two days before Election Day, including a stop at the ABC13 studios to tape a special broadcast.

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Houston looked a lot different back then, the KTRK studios included. While the station is located on the same stretch of Bissonnet, much around it has changed over the years.

Ford was greeted by then station general manager Kenneth Johnson, who ushered the president into the heavily-guarded building.

Secret Service could be found crawling about, with agents even on nearby rooftops.

Ford taped a half-hour program that would be shown around the state to drum up votes for his first presidential campaign.

He was joined by Democratic Texas Gov. John Connally and former Congresswoman Edith Green.

Before departing for Hobby Airport, Ford told an Eyewitness News reporter that he thought he'd carry Texas at the polls.

"We're doing fine. We've got such wonderful leadership, and we're doing great," Ford said.

Ford lost Texas to Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter, who went on to become the 39th president of the United States.

Ford died at 93 on December 26, 2006.