213. Editorial Note

With the outcome of the 1976 Presidential election uncertain, on November 2, Deputy Secretary of State Charles W. Robinson sent a memorandum to Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger stating the need to “move promptly to coordinate the transition process” should Governor Carter win. Robinson attached a proposed organization plan for dealing with the change of administration. The plan anticipated the immediate logistical requirements of a transition team and efforts the Department would need to make to brief incoming appointees. A transition committee, including representatives of the Bureau of Administration (A), the office of the Director General of the Foreign Service (DG), the Executive Secretariat (S/S), and others, was created to oversee this process, coordinate the transition efforts of the Agency for International Development and the United States Information Agency, and work in cooperation with the National Security Council, the National Security Agency, and the Central Intelligence Agency. (National Archives, RG 59, Transition Records of the Executive Secretariat, 1959–1977: Lot 77 D 253, Entry 5338, Transition to the Next Administration) With Governor Carter’s victory, Robinson’s plan formed the basis of the Department’s handling of the transition process.

The final outcome of the November 2 election was close. Winning 50.1 percent of the popular vote and 297 electoral votes, Governor Carter defeated President Ford who garnered totals of 48 percent and 240 electoral votes. With several key states too close to call, Carter was not declared the winner until the following morning. At 11 a.m. on November 3, Ford telephoned Carter from the Oval Office to concede and then met with members of the press assembled in the White House [Page 708] briefing room. First Lady Betty Ford, her husband’s voice failing, read out the text of a congratulatory telegram that the President sent to the President-elect. (Ford, A Time to Heal, page 435) The text of Ford’s telegram is in Public Papers: Ford, 1976–77, Book III, page 1014.