With Ezra Taft Benson's permission, three weeks after the April 1966 general conference a national committee announced that it was preparing a campaign to elect him U.S. president in 1968. As part of its ten-year plan, this "1976 Committee" nominated Strom Thurmond, conservative U.S. senator from South Carolina, as Benson's vice-presidential running mate.
A former state coordinator wrote that Birch president Robert Welch "was the guiding light behind" this 1976 Committee [to elect Benson president].
National leaders of the Birch Society comprised 59 percent of this committee, including its chair and two vice-chairs. Most other committee members were probably lower-ranking Birchers.
Benson's 1976 Committee was a classic demonstration of Welch's philosophy of creating "fronts"--organizations that merely had the appearance of independence from the Birch Society which formed and directed them.
In effect, the Birch Society was nominating Benson for the White House.
["Presidential Draft for Elder Benson?" in Deseret News, 3 May 1966, A-l; "Group Seeks Benson for Race in '68," Salt Lake Tribune, 3 May 1966, 6; "Benson Hints Door Open In '68 Race," Salt Lake Tribune, 4 May 1966, A-14; Dew, Ezra Taft Benson, 383. Also Epstein and Forster, The Radical Right, 53-55,142; Bethke, "BF (Before Falwell), EB (Ezra Benson)," see additional footnotes in Michael Quinn article. From D. Michael Quinn, Ezra Taft Benson and Mormon Political Conflicts, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 26:2 (Summer 1992), also in Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power Salt Lake City (Signature Books, 1994), Chapter 3.]