DALLAS -- President Reagan watched his renomination by the Republican Party on television Wednesday night and celebrated the occasion with a kiss from his wife, Nancy.
'Well, we've been sweating this out and we finally made it,' Reagan quipped after going over the top for the GOP nomination as anticipated when the Missouri delegation voted at the Republican National Convention.
The president and Mrs. Reagan watched the almost unanimous roll call of the states for them on television with Vice President George Bush and his wife, Barbara, in their 26th-floor suite at the Anatole Hotel. Reagan and the first lady held hands.
Even after Reagan and Bush were pushed over the top, the two couples hesitated, uncertain the required threshold of 1,118 votes had been reached.
When finally convinced their victory-without-opposition had been achieved, the Reagans and Bushes waved to the convention delegates via closed-circuit television and Mrs. Reagan, responding to a cue from a cameraman, kissed the president.
Asked if he would accept the nomination, a foregone conclusion, Reagan smiled and replied, 'I guess so.'
The roll call capped a day marked by Reagan's triumphant arrival in Dallas. He told thousands of cheering supporters chanting 'Four More Years' that the GOP will become 'America's party.'
At the convention, delegates erupted into a 25-minute demonstration when Reagan's name was placed into nomination by his old friend, Sen. Paul Laxalt of Nevada. 'Four More Years!' was chanted again and 175,000 red, white and blue balloons were dropped on the cheering throng.
Mrs. Reagan also spoke to the convention and afterward Reagan's live picture from his hotel room flashed on the giant television screen above the podium. The first lady waved at each other long-distance to the cheers of delegates.
The president was given a star-spangled welcome by buoyant partisans in the 14-story, banner-bedecked lobby of the plush Loew's Anatole Hotel. Reagan arrived in Dallas to a Texas-size hero's welcome just hours before his anointment as the GOP standard bearer for a second time.
'By the time this convention ends, the Republican Party will be well on its way to becoming America's party,' Reagan declared to the delight of jubilant convention-goers, some who literally hung from interior balconies in the hotel designated as Reagan's convention headquarters.
Reagan spoke from a platform adorned with red, white and blue bunting, before a nine-story-tall American flag and a huge banner reading 'Bringing America Back, Prouder, Stronger and Better.' When his speech was finished, hundreds of balloons were released over the thousands of Reagan-Bush believers.
Assailing the 'do-nothing Democratic leadership' for standing in the way of his election-year legislative agenda, Reagan declared the GOP 'the party of the future' and contrasted his 'agenda of opportunity' to Mondale's.
'The American dream begins with opportunity,' the president said, 'and our goal is to build an opportunity society for every man, woman and child. We'll do it because GOP doesn't just stand for Grand Old Party.
'It also stands for Great Opportunity Party. But lately, it looks like that letter 'D' in their name has come to stand for defeatism, decline, dependency, doom and despair.'
Reagan met Wednesday afternoon with Bush, then paid a courtesy call on one-time rival Gerald Ford, who edged him out for the nomination in a bitter clash of ideologies in 1976 and whose loss that year to Jimmy Carter was offset by the 1980 Reagan landslide.
His arrival to cheers and thundrous applause raised the energy level of a convention devoid of suspense, drama, controversy or surprise. The convention climaxes Thursday night with an acceptance speech Reagan will use to underscore the battlelines of his campaign against Walter Mondale.
At 73 the oldest man to occupy the Oval Office, Reagan hopes to become the first president since Dwight Eisenhower to serve two full terms. His advisers believe the current indicators all point to victory over Mondale, but concede their biggest threat may come from overconfidence.
Teasing the crowd as thousands cheered 'Four More Years! Four More Years!' Reagan said, 'I have to tell you I like the sound.'