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Yesterday in La Crosse

The Reagans come to La Crosse to campaign, 44 years ago

Brad Williams



On March 23rd of 1976, former California Governor Ronald Reagan brought his presidential campaign to La Crosse.  Reagan and his wife Nancy came to La Crosse on the same day of the North Carolina primary.  The candidate spoke to a Ducks Unlimited dinner at the Sawyer Auditorium, and also at the Hotel Stoddard, where he criticized Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and said America was in greater danger ‘than at any time since Valley Forge.’  Mrs. Reagan also met with reporters at the Stoddard.  The Reagans left town just before the ex-governor was declared the winner in the North Carolina voting.   

Many other big-name candidates followed Reagan to La Crosse just before the ’76 Wisconsin primary.  President Gerald Ford had a rally at the Sawyer.  Democrats Jimmy Carter, George Wallace, and ‘Scoop’ Jackson also met with voters in La Crosse.   

In Argentina that March, President Isabel Peron was ousted in a military coup.  British Field Marshal Montgomery died at age 88.  ‘Monty’ was one of the leading Allied Commanders in World War II.  Britain’s 60-year-old Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, announced he would retire.  And Patty Hearst was convicted of bank robbery and sentenced to prison.  Hearst had taken part in a California holdup in 1974 after being kidnapped by a militant group called the Symbionese Liberation Army.