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This Presidential Election

"will be the first time neither the president nor the vice president has sought the presidency since 1928," reports James Taranto (OpinionJournal's Best of the Web).

JR01 (mail):
1952? Eisenhower vs. Stevenson
1.10.2008 3:39am
pushmedia1:
Alben Barkley, Truman's veep, ran for the democratic nomination in 1952.
1.10.2008 3:59am
PersonFromPorlock:
Shouldn't we be discussing Cheney as a possible compromise candidate at a brokered convention? Just to see the spittle fly?
1.10.2008 8:00am
Grant Colvin (www):
In 1952, incumbent President Harry Truman was on the New Hampshire primary ballot, but was defeated by Senator Estes Kefauver. Truman then withdrew and backed Stevenson. The contest this year is thus the first since 1928 without an incumbent President or Vice-President even the slightest bit interested in running. Those who are superstitious will consider this a bad omen: Calvin Coolidge, who had succeeded to the Presidency after the death of Warren Harding in 1923 and then was elected in 1924, famously announced that he did not shoose to run in 1928. Republican Herbert Hoover (who had never previously held elective office) then defeated Democrat Al Smith (up until then the only Catholic nominee of a major party). The stock market crashed, the Great Depression started, FDR won the election in 1932, the New Deal ensued, etc., etc.
1.10.2008 8:17am
Anderson (mail):
Obviously, we should vote for the Catholic this time. Unless God turns out to be a Mormon. Oh, the uncertainty!
1.10.2008 9:07am
Grant Colvin (www):
Uh, make that "choose" not "shoose." Yikes.

By the way, the last (and only) Catholic elected President--John F. Kennedy--was also the last incumbent member of Congress to be elected (and, I believe, one of only three, the other two being Harding and Garfield, all of whom died in office). He was also the last President elected who was not from the greater south (i.e., including the "border states") or from California. Supporters of former Governor Huckabee of Arkansas no doubt believe that God is a Baptist.
1.10.2008 9:28am
Wondering Willy:
George H.W. Bush was not from the greater South.

And I think it's a mischaracterization to say that Huckabee's supporters believe that "God is a Baptist." While allowing for some rhetorical hyperbole, why is it shocking or even significant that a socio-political confederation uniting behind a candidate for office has an overlap in religious views? I bet a lot of Jews vote for Joe Lieberman, but so what?

And isn't it true that most religious people believe that God agrees with their theology? Otherwise, they wouldn't believe what they believe. The statement "Most Baptists believe God agrees with them" is rather obvious, no? Doesn't it hold true for every religious group?
1.10.2008 9:35am
Bob from Ohio (mail):

George H.W. Bush was not from the greater South.


While he was not born or raised in Texas, that is where he was based as an adult. He was in the oil business there. He also was a Congressman from Houston and ran for the US Senate.
1.10.2008 9:42am
Justin (mail):
"FDR won the election in 1932, the New Deal ensued, etc., etc"

Yes, such horrible things.

Reagan and Nixon were from California, btw.
1.10.2008 9:55am
Grant Colvin (www):
George H. W. Bush was, of course, born in Massachusetts, and he grew up in Massachusetts and Connecticut. But he moved to Texas after college and has resided there ever since. He was elected to the House from Texas and ran for the Senate from Texas. I am quite sure that if asked he would call himself a Texan. A number of the candidates over the years have had lives with a considerable amount of peregrination. Hillary Clinton, for instance, was born and raised in Illinois, was "from" Arkansas for some years, and is now "from" New York. Dwight Eisenhower is also an interesting case. He was born in Texas and grew up in Kansas. His long career in the Army took him all over the world. He ultimately settled in Pennsylvania.

My Huckabee/Baptist remark was intended not even as rhetorical hyperbole, but as a little (and I do mean little) joke: obviously most members (well, serious members, at any rate) of religious groups regard God as being in theological agreement with them--or, to put it a little less blasphemously, they hope and pray that they are in religious agreement with God.

Speaking of jokes: They wake up the Pope in the middle of the night. "Holy Father, we have some good news and some bad news." "What's the good news?" he says. "Well, Jesus is on the phone--he has returned, and he wants to talk to you." "Wow, what's the bad news?" "He's calling from Salt Lake City!"
1.10.2008 10:05am
Grant Colvin (www):
Justin: I said greater south OR California.

The historical events that ensued post-1928 ("etc., etc." includes, inter alia, the rise of Hitler, World War II, and the Holocaust) provide the superstitious of both parties with plenty to worry about.
1.10.2008 10:13am
Craig Oren (mail):
having neither an incumbent president or vice-president running for the presidency used to be more common. Consider (in reverse order) 1920 (although Wilson, incapacitated by a stroke, fantasized that he would be nominated for a third term), 1908 (TR had promised in 1904 that he would not seek to run in 1908), 1896, 1880, 1876, 1868, 1860, 1856, 1852, 1848, 1844, 1840, 1836, 1828, 1824, 1816 and 1808. There were few two-term presidents in the 19th century, and the vice-presidency was not a launching pad to the Presidency. I believe that before 1988, only Jefferson and the first Adams were the only Vice-Presidents to be elected President. And few won their parties' nominated; I can only think of Richard Nixon in 1960, and Hubert Humphrey in 1968.

(I'm sure I've made a mistake somewhere here, so be gentle when you point it out!)
1.10.2008 10:25am
PLR:
Obviously, we should vote for the Catholic this time. Unless God turns out to be a Mormon. Oh, the uncertainty!

Not to worry, we have five Catholics on the Supreme Court to make sure Mormons don't get the upper hand. I hear that some of them have prior experience with elections too.
1.10.2008 10:45am
Grant Colvin (www):
Craig:

Your general point is correct.

There have been, by my count, only four incumbent V-Ps elected President: John Adams, Jefferson, Van Buren, and George H. W. Bush. To which one might add the only non-imcumbent, i.e., former V-P elected President, Richard Nixon.

Nine (I think) V-Ps succeeded to the Presidency upon the death of a President (a number of them subsequently won election as incumbent Presidents).

To attain the Presidency initially by election, it has been best to have been an incumbent or former Governor.
1.10.2008 10:47am
David Mader (www):
Taranto's tidbit is neat, but how about this:

If George W. Bush completes his current term in office, he'll be the first true two-term president to succeed a true two-term president since... James Monroe.

Note the term "true two-term president"; that is, a president who is elected to and serves two full terms. This doesn't include presidents who succeed to office and serve more than one term (like Johnson or Truman).
1.10.2008 11:21am
Dave N (mail):
Craig Oren.

We are lawyers here, so it is in our training to quibble--but I will be gentle.

In 1880, former President U.S. Grant sought the Republican nomination and did not get it (not as an incumbent, though).

In 1860, incumbent Vice President John C. Breckinridge was the candidate of the southern Democrats (he later was a general in the Confederate Army. As a side note, I always found it curious that Jefferson Davis, and not he, was the first President of the Confederacy).

In 1856,former President Millard Fillmore was the candidate of the No Nothing Party (and what was left of the Whigs). But like Grant, he was not the incumbent.

In 1848, former President Martin Van Buren unsuccessfully sought the Presidency with the Free Soil Party (same caveats as Grant and Fillmore).

In 1844, former President Van Buren unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination. President John Tyler would have loved re-election, but had no constituency to nominate him.

In 1840, incumbent President Van Buren lost to William Henry Harrison.

In 1836, incumbent Vice President Martin Van Buren was elected.

In 1828, incumbent President John Quincy Adams was defeated.

In 1808, Jefferson's Vice President, George Clinton, was re-elected Vice President even as James Madison was elected President.

There, I was gentle. I would note two things. First, we haven't had a former President run since 1912, though there were several before then. Second, Vice President John Nance Garner once described his office as not being worth a bucket of warm spit, and so it is not surprising that Vice Presidents (until the modern age) were not serious candidates (note only Vice Presidents Van Buren and Breckinridge on my above list).
1.10.2008 11:30am
Hoosier:
OK--Riddle me this:

This will be only the second time (the other being 1964) that the GOP ticket has lacked a Nixon, Dole, or Bush, since 1948. Is this right?*

*(Let's presume that the GOP nominee doesn't choose Elizabeth Dole or Jeb Bush as VP. A safe bet, I should think.)
1.10.2008 11:40am
Richard S (mail):
If Bush makes it through another year without anything happening, this will be the first time we've had two straight two term preidents since the days of the Virginia dynasty. It will be the first time we've ever had two straight two-term presidents of different parties.
1.10.2008 12:28pm
Grant Colvin (www):
Dave Mader--

I presume your "[i]f George W. Bush completes his current term in office" is a reference to the "twenty year" or "zero year" or "Tecumseh" curse. It is said that the Shawnee, Tecumseh, placed a death curse on William Henry Harrison for defeating him in battle: henceforth every President elected in a year ending in zero would die in office. This was true beginning with Harrison himself in 1840. Only Reagan, who narrowly escaped death by assasination, evaded the "curse," as has GWB thus far. And, heaven forfend, talk about a bizarre year if---.
1.10.2008 12:30pm
Annon6:
Hoosier:

McCain-Dole 2008. That preserves the trend since 1976 that the republican ticket always include a Bush or Dole. Plus it adds a woman to the republican ticket to offset Hilary. Please compare Senator Dole's bio to that of Senator Clinton. Who has more relevant experience?
1.10.2008 12:34pm
Redman:
History has sanitized John Nance Garner's quote. What he said was "The vice presidency isn't worth a bucket of warm piss."
1.10.2008 2:06pm
Hoosier:
"It will be the first time we've ever had two straight two-term presidents of different parties."

Who were the gay ones?
1.10.2008 2:12pm
Andrew Janssen (mail):

"It will be the first time we've ever had two straight two-term presidents of different parties."

Who were the gay ones?


Well, there are those who make wild claims about Abraham Lincoln, but I think most people could pick James Buchanan as the President-most-likely-to-have-been-gay, with his one-time roommate, William Rufus King, who was Franklin Pierce's Vice-President, as the VP-most-likely-to-have-been-gay.

We can't know for sure, because Buchanan's and King's nieces destroyed their uncles' letters after their deaths, but the contemporary press certainly speculated about it.
1.10.2008 2:53pm
Larry Fafarman (mail) (www):
Dave N said,
In 1860, incumbent Vice President John C. Breckinridge was the candidate of the southern Democrats (he later was a general in the Confederate Army. As a side note, I always found it curious that Jefferson Davis, and not he, was the first President of the Confederacy).

Breckinridge was late in joining the Confederacy. He kept his Senate seat for a few months, then fled to the Confederacy when he feared arrest for trying to keep his state of Kentucky neutral in the Civil War.

Also, Davis was not the first president of the Confederacy -- he was the only president of the Confederacy.

By your line of reasoning, maybe former US president John Tyler should have been chosen president of the Confederacy.
1.10.2008 3:01pm
Hoosier:
Andrew Janssen--
My roommate from grad school--and now my closest friend--is gay. Mike and I both trained as historians. So when I wanted to tweak him, I would point out the Buchanan-King connection. We *both* consider the Pierce and Buchanan administrations to be the worst and second worst in our history. We just disagree on the ranking of the rank, as it were. (I think Buchanan wins the "Worst in History" prize.)

He doesn't like the fact that things were at their worst in the White House when the gay presence was at its peak. (Although, to be quite frank, I think 1850s politics were poisoned by sectionalism, and not sexuality. Just don't tell Mike I admitted that.)
1.10.2008 3:44pm
Dave N (mail):
Larry Farafam,

You are right, I should not have said "first" since Jefferson Davis was the only President of the Confederacy.

I had never cared enough about John Breckinridge to realize that he was elected to the United States Senate in 1860. Ironically, Kentucky did not succeed, but he was expelled from the Senate for his southern sympathies. Of even greater irony, Tennessee DID succeed though one of its Senators refused to resign when that happened. That Senator was Abraham Lincoln's running mate in 1864--and the 17th President of the United States, Andrew Johnson.

As for John Tyler, he was elected to the Confederate Congress (one of only three former Presidents to be elected a member of Congress either in the United States or anywhere else (John Quincy Adams and Andrew Johnson were the other two).

Tyler died before taking office. I would suspect both his frail health and the fact that he was less of a firebrand for succession than others made the Confederate Presidency unattainable for him.
1.10.2008 4:04pm
Dave N (mail):
Larry Fafarman, sorry for the misspelling of your name.

My apologies.
1.10.2008 4:05pm
Dave N (mail):
Oh--in the totally useless trivia department, in the era of political trivia department, Franklin Roosevelt and Richard Nixon have the distinction of most nominations by a national convention at 5 (Roosevelt for Vice President in 1920 and President in 1932, 1936, 1940, and 1945; Nixon for Vice President in 1952 and 1956, and President in 1960, 1968, and 1972).

However the name George Bush (as opposed to the person) has been placed in nomination 6 total times, 4 for Bush the elder and 2 for W.
1.10.2008 4:10pm
Duffy Pratt (mail):
Earl Dodge and Norman Thomas each ran for president six times.
1.10.2008 4:20pm
Paul B:
Hoosier,

I think one would have to place greater blame on Pierce than Buchanan for secession. It was under his presidency that the Kansas-Nebraska Act was pushed forward that led to the dissolution of the Whig Party and its replacement by the Republicans whose reason for existence was opposition to slavery. Once one of the two national parties was an anti-slavery party, its first Presidential victory would guarantee Southern seccession.

Buchanan certainly wasn't much to write home about, but the die was cast once Pierce and Douglas (who was motivated by the financial gain from the transcontinental railroad that was being blocked by Southern Democrats)destroyed the Democrats in the north by repealing the Missouri Compromise.
1.10.2008 4:23pm
Duffy Pratt (mail):
Slight correction: Dodge ran for President seven times. He got just over 15,000 votes. He was nominated an eighth time, but died before the election. And he ran for VP twice. I think that might be a record. Sad for him, he picked the wrong time to be a prohibitionist.
1.10.2008 4:28pm
rarango (mail):
Is this a great blog or what? I wonder how many jeopardy aspirants read it to prep? Great tidbits of information!
1.10.2008 4:34pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
History has sanitized John Nance Garner's quote. What he said was "The vice presidency isn't worth a bucket of warm piss."
Redman beat me to the point. Except I don't think it was "history" so much as "Authors of secondary school history textbooks."
1.10.2008 4:36pm
Dave N (mail):
Duffy Pratt,

You are right--I was less than clear. I was specifically referring to the two major parties and should have said so.
1.10.2008 5:29pm
Casual Peruser:
Henry Clay was a major-party nominee for president in five different elections.
1.10.2008 5:47pm
Casual Peruser:
Strike that: Henry Clay was nominated by a major party three times and unsuccessfully sought the Whig nomination twice.
1.10.2008 5:49pm
Nick Beat:
On the Nixon/Dole/Bush thing, the Dole tickets (1976 and 1996) and the exception (1964) were GOP losses. Therefore, you could say that if the GOP wins this year, it will be the first time since 1928 that they did so without a Nixon or Bush on the ticket.

The Democrats had some long stretches (#1: 1860 through 1928, only won with a Cleveland or Wilson/Marshall on the ticket), but none with so many wins in it.
1.10.2008 8:06pm
Truth Seeker:
Duffy Pratt (mail):
Dodge ran for President seven times. He got just over 15,000 votes. He was nominated an eighth time, but died before the election


I don't think he was officially nominated th 8th time (this year). His faction of the Prohibition Party was in court with another faction over control of the party. It's a small party with conventions held in someone's living room and lots of relatives voting, I think.
1.11.2008 12:15am
Truth Seeker:
Therefore, you could say that if the GOP wins this year, it will be the first time since 1928 that they did so without a Nixon or Bush on the ticket.

That is of course unless we can draft Jeb for VP. Why take chances?
1.11.2008 12:19am
Some dude:
Al Gore could still go Green.
1.11.2008 11:41am
Rich Rostrom (mail):
If the Democrats should deadlock, and turn to Al Gore as a dark horse, he could be the second ex-VP to become President (after Nixon).

BTW, Eisenhower and Nixon are the only Presidents to be elected to the office from two different home states. NY and PA for Ike, NY and CA for Dick. (Nixon was temporarily resident in NY in the mid-60s, practicing law.)
1.12.2008 12:12am