Were politics more civil in the good old days? Rick Perlstein on the Republican Convention of of 1976 (Ford vs. Reagan):
The vice president of the United States had spotted a Mormon preacher from Utah who’d invaded the space of the New York delegation and was bearing a “Reagan Country” sign. “With an adolescent grin on his face,” said Texas Monthly, Rockefeller snatched the offending sign from the minister’s hands.
The Utah Reagan leader, Douglas Bischoff, chased after Rockefeller to retrieve his placard. He and New York GOP chairman Rosie Rosenbaum scuffled. Rockefeller claimed to have overheard someone say “if he didn’t get that sign back he was going to rip out the phone”— and, presently, the white phone connecting the New York delegation to the Ford command trailer in the parking lot was indeed ripped out while the chairman held the receiver to his ear , surrounded by a crush of reporters attempting to overhear him.
“I want that man arrested!” Rosenbaum yelled as Bischoff attempted unsuccessfully to scuttle down an aisle ahead of the Secret Service agents, who apprehended him for questioning beneath the stands. “He ripped my phone out. That’s what Reagan people are like.”
Rockefeller held up the severed phone for the cameras , sweat breaking through his dress shirt. He then gave the sign back to a Reagan delegate— after ripping it in half.
The American flag on the stage fell over.
Perlstein, Rick (2014-08-05). The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan (Kindle Locations 15739-15753). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.