In 1976, Ford lost his bid for the presidency to Jimmy Carter by only a small margin. He consoled himself by noting that he had lost “a close one,” but he was tremendously disappointed all the same.
A few days after Jimmy Carter’s inauguration, the Fords flew to Houston to attend a dinner in memory of Vince Lombardi, the great football coach. The dinner was a benefit to raise money for cancer research, and Ford had agreed to be guest of honor when he was still President. As the plane neared Houston, Ford began brooding about his recent defeat and wondering whether the Houston fund-raisers would be let down by having an ex-President rather than a President at their banquet.
“They thought they’d be getting a sitting President,” he ruefully told his wife, Betty.
“Don’t worry, darling,” his vivacious wife said consolingly, “it’s me they’re coming to see.”