CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — It was a different time. The Ruan Center in Des Moines, with 35 floors, had just become Iowa's tallest building. Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, the home of the Iowa State Cyclones, had just opened. The farm girls were still playing 6-on-6 high school basketball — three forwards on one half of the court, three guards (permitted to dribble only twice) on the other, and no crossing the half-court line — and they were attracting thousands of spectators, as many as 7,362 to watch Warsaw defeat Bloomfield, 57-52, for the state championship in 1976.

Then again, an obscure former governor from Georgia was just then attracting a tiny fraction of that crowd when he dropped into Jim Albright's house here in Cedar Rapids two months before the 1976 Iowa caucuses. He wore the kind of fat tie that hasn't been fashionable for decades and a bright Ipana smile that even then seemed a trifle unsettling, and repeated that performance — small groups, big smile — with remarks that were refreshing in the wake of the Watergate scandal but seem irredeemably treacly today. "If you support me, I'll never make you ashamed," he told a Sioux City audience of 20; that was an overflow crowd in those days for the long shot candidate. "You'll never be disappointed. I have nothing to conceal. I'll never tell a lie."

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