No, I don’t think that it would be suicidal at all. I think Jeb Bush is the best possible candidate that the Republicans can put forth in 2016, and I think that he’s the only GOP contender who might be able to hang with Hillary Clinton. Ideologically, Jeb Bush is far more similar to his father than his brother, and I believe that he’s the only possible GOP candidate (unless the Republicans nominate Jon Huntsman — like they SHOULD) who can lock down the support of moderates. Bush would have trouble with the hardcore conservatives in his party, but if the GOP wants to have a chance in 2016, they’ll need to rally behind a candidate who might be able to…you know…win…and Bush is their best shot (and, even then, it’s no sure thing).
Romney has been adamant that he’s not running for President again and that he doesn’t imagine any sort of of draft changing his mind. Because of the guy that Romney is, I believe that he doesn’t want to run again, but I also think he’d accept a draft if he felt it was his duty to serve his party and country. And despite Romney’s defeats in the 2008 GOP primaries and the 2012 general election, I think he’s probably the strongest possible Republican candidate in 2016 (if he did change his mind and run) besides Jeb Bush.
No, I definitely disagree. There were, of course. low-level dirty tricks in the 1888 campaign as there always are, and they were especially prevalent in the 19th Century, but the 1888 election was pretty tame. Cleveland and Harrison were personally honest almost to a fault, and while they certainly wanted to win the election, neither would have permitted a dirty campaign or anything unseemly on their behalf. In fact, longtime journalist Alexander K. McClure wrote of the 1888 election, “I cannot recall another Presidential contest that was conducted on both sides with greater dignity and decency than that between Cleveland and Harrison in 1888.”
The most corrupt election was probably the 1876 contest between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel J. Tilden. I don’t know where to begin with that election, but here’s quick overview:
•There were widespread allegations of voting irregularities, fraud, votes for sale, intimidation, and a bunch of other bad things alleged against both sides. Most of those allegations are almost certainly true.
•The results of the election were in dispute following Election Day, with three states still “counting” their votes: Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina.
•Those three states were controlled by the Republican Party as Reconstruction was still in effect in the South and the GOP was similar to an occupying force, with loyal Republicans installed in nearly every influential state, city, and county position.
•In what was either a major coincidence or an undoubtedly suspicious turn of events, the Republican-controlled states were having trouble counting their disputed votes at the exact moment when the Demcorat candidate, Samuel J. Tilden, not only led the Republican candidate (Hayes) in the popular vote, but also had a lead in the Electoral College.
•Tilden’s lead in the Electoral College was 184-166, and he was just one electoral vote away from clinching the Presidency.
•Of the three (Republican-controlled) states that were still in dispute, Tilden was leading in two of them.
•Again…Tilden just needed ONE more electoral vote to win the Presidency. Hayes needed to win every single electoral vote still in dispute.
•Hayes caught a break in the two states where he was “trailing’ Tilden — Florida and Louisiana — when the Republican officials in charge of the process disqualified a significant amount of Tilden ballots.
•In the midst of the the confusion, as the election was being disputed, Tilden remained the favorite to pull off the victory. Rutherford B. Hayes was actually convinced that he had lost the election.
For those of us who remember the anxiety and frustration over the 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore, that was nothing compared to the 1876 election. Election Day was on November 7, 1876, but the dispute dragged on so long that there were fears that the country might face violence or rebellion once a decision was finally made, especially since the country was only a dozen years removed from the Civil War. Reconstruction was still taking place and Union troops continued to occupy the South. Democratic candidates had been dominated by Republican candidates since the Civil War — many of whom were carpetbaggers from the North that native Southerners heavily resented. The possibility of a Democrat seemingly being denied the Presidency easily could have sparked disturbances, especially since Samuel J. Tilden had won the popular vote and was denied an Electoral College majority through tactics which were questionable at best.
Not only was the election in dispute, but when the Electoral College met, there were disputes about which Presidential electors could be certified. On top of all that, the Constitution requires Electoral College results to be counted before a joint session of Congress. The Senate was controlled by Democrats and the House was controlled by Republicans, so, of course, they couldn’t even come to an agreement about tallying the votes. Finally, Congress decided on an unprecedented alternative — the formation of a 15-member “Electoral Commission”. It was decided that there would be seven Democratic members, seven Republican members (including future President James Garfield), and one independent member — David Davis, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and close friend of Abraham Lincoln. Unsurprisingly, even that didn’t go as planned — Davis retired from the Court and his spot on the Electoral Commission was filled by another Supreme Court Justice, Joseph P. Bradley. Justice Bradley was a Republican appointed by the Republican President Grant and his presence on the Commission gave the GOP an 8-7 advantage.
The Electoral Commission began its work on February 1, 1877. Now, don’t forget that the election had taken place on November 7, 1876, and the next President’s inauguration was scheduled for March 4, 1877. Since March 4th was a Sunday, the public inauguration ceremony would take place on Monday, March 5th. As you might imagine, the Electoral Commission’s decided the election strictly along party lines — 8-7 in favor of Rutherford B. Hayes. Justice Bradley, the Republican replacement for the Commission’s only independent appointee, was the swing vote.
The 2000 election was decided when the Supreme Court (voting along strict party lines just like in 1876) ended the recount of disputed votes in Florida. That happened on December 8, 2000 and the 43rd President’s Inauguration Day was January 20, 2001, not an ideal amount of time for a transition, but still well over a month. The 1876 election was officially decided by the Electoral Commission on March 2, 1877 — TWO DAYS before the 19th President’s Inauguration Day. Many Americans didn’t know who the new President was until after he was sworn in.
Although Tilden won the popular vote and probably won the Electoral vote, he did not dispute the election. It was said that Tilden recognized there was widespread voting fraud within his own organization and didn’t figured it was best to move on a spare the country any further trouble, especially since there was a real possibility of rebellion by opponents of Hayes and the Republicans. Tilden took solace in the fact that he (and many other Americans) knew he actually won the election.
Threats of major disturbances on Inauguration Day resulted in precautions being taken — on Saturday, March 3, 1877, President Grant invited Hayes to the White House and had the President-elect privately sworn into office in the Red Room, just in case anything prevented the actual ceremony. Because of how the election was decided (not to mention the fact that it had only been decided a couple of days earlier), the inauguration was low-key with no parades or inaugural balls. Once in office, President Hayes had to placate the Democrats who felt robbed of the election with what became known as the “Compromise of 1877”. Hayes basically ended Reconstruction by withdrawing the Union troops that had occupied the South since the end of the Civil War, a move which resulted in the “black codes” and ensured that civil rights for African-Americans were denied for nearly another century.
I don’t have a clue. None of the other Republicans frequently mentioned as possible contenders for the nomination in 2016 have a chance at winning a Presidential election and I can’t even fathom how some of them could even be nominated. If Jeb Bush doesn’t run, I can imagine the other candidates diminishing each other because of the size of the field and the lack of any standouts and just battling each other to a stalemate that results in a brokered convention. I have no idea who would emerge victorious from that scenario, but it most likely wouldn’t be one of the main candidates going into the convention. Honestly, if that happened, the GOP seriously would be better off organizing a Draft Mitt Romney movement and nominating him again. If Jeb Bush doesn’t run, the Republicans are going to have a very rough 2016.
Jimmy Carter wasn’t a bad nominee — I mean, he did win the election — he just ended up being a failure as President. You can’t really fault the Democrats for nominating Carter especially since, like I said, he actually won.
Looking back, it does seem crazy that the field of Democrats running for President in 1976 was so unimpressive, especially since the Democrats were facing a President in Gerald Ford who had been appointed to the Vice Presidency and assumed the Presidency following Nixon’s resignation. The Republican Party was in disarray because of Watergate and President Ford was challenged for the GOP nomination by Ronald Reagan, which really hurt his campaign against Carter in 1976 and might have been a bigger reason for Ford’s loss than anything else. Yet, Carter wasn’t really seriously challenged during his bid for the Democratic nomination even though he was a dark horse candidate. Carter’s major rivals only had strength in certain regions and no broad support, so Carter appealed to way more Americans than people like George Wallace, Morris Udall, and Henry Jackson (who weren’t all that appealing in the first place). Other Democratic hopefuls were Hubert H. Humphrey, who was dying, and California Governor Jerry Brown, who was 38 years old and had only been in office for a year. Brown might have caused Carter some trouble — in fact, he won the California primary — but he jumped into the campaign WAY too late and never had a chance to make a dent in the huge delegate lead that Carter had already accumulated.
The 1976 election is a fascinating one for many reasons and it’s definitely surprising that the Democrats didn’t have a more impressive field of contenders battling for the nomination in an election that was so winnable that a largely unknown one-term Governor of Georgia ended up as President. Quite frankly, the talent roster of top-level Democrats simply wasn’t very deep in the 1970s. Ted Kennedy was probably the most appealing possible Democratic Presidential candidate in 1976, but he was still on the sidelines because of Chappaquiddick.
The 1880 election was still pretty early — Robert Todd Lincoln was only 37 in 1880 and didn’t serve as Secretary of War until 1881-1885. I think 1884 was probably the first time his name was seriously brought up (by other Republicans — Lincoln said he’d refuse the nomination every time it was suggested).
With that said, even at 37 and without much experience, his name probably would have carried him to a victory in 1880 if he had run for President — with or without General Sheridan, who was just as reluctant to accept a nomination as Lincoln was and General Sherman was. Garfield was a dark horse candidate who surprisingly won the 1880 Republican nomination and still routed the Democratic nominee, Winfield Scott Hancock, in the Electoral College (Garfield’s actually only won the popular vote by about 2,000 votes. The Lincoln name — that close to Lincoln’s assassination and with the chance of extending the Lincoln legacy — probably would have overcome any of Robert Todd Lincoln’s relative inexperience if he did run in 1880.
Yes, “major” Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates within a certain timeframe of the election. There isn’t any specific “definition” of “major candidates”, but it’s usually the most visible candidates, or the leading candidates, and, of course, the nominees after the Convention. Sometimes Secret Service protection of certain candidates will be ordered earlier if there are specific threats and it’s believed that protection should be provided.
The Secret Service began protecting candidates after the assassination of Bobby Kennedy in Los Angeles following his victory in California’s Democratic primary in 1968 and after Alabama Governor George Wallace was shot five times and nearly killed while campaigning for President in Maryland in 1972.
While Presidential candidates didn’t campaign as openly or actively for themselves during the 19th Century, there were examples of candidates campaigning from trains at that time. It’s not clear how similar they were to Truman’s 1948 campaign or whistle stop campaigns as we know it today. Now, they probably weren’t as extensive as later whistle stop campaigns, and in some cases where it says that candidates campaigned by train, they may have simply traveled to an event or speech by train, but they did happen.
There are indications that William Henry Harrison campaigned by train as early as 1836 — his unsuccessful bid for the Presidency four years before he unseated Martin Van Buren. Again, I’m not positive that he campaigned in the whistle stop method that we think of when we hear the term. In 1836, the railroad network in the United States was very young and incomplete, so Harrison probably just used the train to travel to a speech, instead of stopping at various stations and speaking from the rear platform.
As for Theodore Roosevelt’s 1904 campaign for President, not only did he not campaign by train, but he didn’t campaign at all. His opponent was the least impressive major party nominee in American History, Alton B. Parker, whose highlight on his resume was being Chief Judge of the State of New York’s Court of Appeals. So, TR stayed home and focused on his work and still routed Parker in the election.
One day, I publicly declared that this is a depression and the President [Carter], before the day was out, went to the press to say, ‘That shows how little he know. This is a recession.’
If the President wants a definition, I’ll give him one. Recession is when your neighbor loses his job. Depression is when you lose yours. And recovery will be when Jimmy Carter loses his!
Well, I personally don’t consider Bill Clinton’s 1996 victory over Bob Dole to be a landslide. There is no official definition of a landslide, but in my opinion, winning 400 electoral votes or more is my idea of a landslide and Clinton came just short (379). But Clinton would have been in trouble in ‘96 if General Powell had sought the GOP nomination.
Of the other elections that you mentioned, 1988 is the one that could have conceivably ended differently. George H.W. Bush’s election was no sure thing. Martin Van Buren was the last sitting Vice President to win a Presidential election, so that was an obstacle — the Vice Presidency is actually a pretty tough position to run v for President from.
Bush had to deal with a pesky primary challenge from Pat Buchanan that he wasn’t going to lose, but it didn’t help his cause as the standard-bearer for the Republican Party despite his eight years as Ronald Reagan’s loyal VP. Plus, there were rumors and worries about whether Bush had been involved in the Iran-Contra scandal.
On top of that, there was a strong group of Democratic candidates — Michael Dukakis, Joe Biden, Gary Hart, Richard Gephardt, Al Gore, Paul Simon, Bruce Babbitt, and Jesse Jackson. Some of those candidates found no footing and dropped out quickly or quietly. Some of the went down spectacularly in flames. But several of the candidates — including the eventual nominee, Dukakis — matched up well against Bush. And Bush’s choice of a running mate, Dan Quayle, raised some eyebrows and could have easily torpedoed Bush in the final weeks if Quayle had been more Dan Quayle-ish on the campaign trail.
It took some gaffes and uninspired campaigning from Dukakis and some vicious attack ads from the GOP to really put Bush over the top in what was the nastiest, most expensive Presidential campaign in history up to that point.