In eulogizing Gerald Ford at his Grand Rapids, Mich., funeral in January 2007, Jimmy Carter described a New Yorker cartoon that both men had found amusing. In it a small boy informs his mother, “When I grow up, I want to be a former president.”Read the rest here.
No one aspires to be a defeated presidential candidate.
In Washington, losing an election is viewed as a sort of death. But instead of bringing food to the house, a few neighbors and some in the media stick a microphone in your face and ask, “Did you cost Ford the White House?”
Twenty years after Ford and I lost the White House to Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale, I was the one pointing fingers — at myself. Then, for a long time after my loss to Bill Clinton in 1996, I would lie awake nights wondering what I could have done to change the outcome. Did we rely too much on the Republican base, letting cultural issues define us in a harsh light and driving away independents and suburban voters?
I remembered former president Richard Nixon’s assessment in the months before his death in April 1994: “If the economy’s good,” he told me, “you’re not going to beat Clinton.”
The logic was irrefutable: If times are good, why would you vote out an incumbent? But that didn’t keep me from replaying the race in my head.
In 1996 I voted for Harry Browne not Sen. Dole. That said, I have always thought he was a class act and a true gentleman.