Presidential Primaries and Caucuses: The 1976 Republican Primaries

Gerald Ford is the only person to serve as Vice-President and President of the United States without having been elected to either office. Following the Watergate scandal, Ford became President upon the resignation of President Richard Nixon, August 9, 1974. On September 8, Ford's first major act in office was to grant a full and unconditional pardon for any crimes Richard Nixon might have committed while President. Ford's pardon of Nixon caused a drastic drop in his approval ratings. Within a week, it fell from 69 percent to 49, the steepest decline in history.


Ford had other problems to contend with as President. The economy was in dire condition. The nation was experiencing the worst peacetime inflation in American history and the highest interest rates in a century. The Dow Jones Industrial Average had dropped 43 percent from October 1973 to September 1974. Ford proposed a tax increase, but when the Democratic Party called for a permanent tax cut, Ford said that he was in favor of a moderate decrease. He was publicly criticized for both proposals by the man who would challenge him for his party's nomination, California Governor Ronald Reagan. Two days after Nixon's resignation, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Roe v. Wade, striking down state restrictions on abortion nationwide. The decision angered conservatives and a conservative movement began to galvanize around Reagan.

In the 1974 midterm elections, the Democratic Party dramatically expanded its majorities in both the House and Senate. The elections were seen as a referendum on the Republican Party and especially on Ford's unpopular pardoning of Nixon. In 1974 Reagan finished his second term in office as Governor of California. He was seen as popular in conservative circles, in large measure because of his efforts to dismantle the welfare state, his measures to combat urban crime and his criticism of left-wing dissent, especially at the University of California, Berkeley. He also tried to enforce the state's capital punishment laws but was blocked by the California Supreme Court in the People v. Anderson decision. When Reagan's term as California Governor ended in January 1975, he began hosting a national radio show and writing a national newspaper column.

Reagan took advantage of mounting conservative opposition to Ford within the Republican Party, which began to surface in December 1974. His appointment of New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller as Vice President further angered Republican conservatives. For more than a decade, Rockefeller had represented the party's liberal establishment. His appointment was criticized by right-wing Senators like Jesse Helms, Barry Goldwater and John Tower. At the second annual Conservative Political Action Conference in February of 1975, Reagan was urged to seek the presidency on a third-party ticket. He rejected this suggestion, stating: "Is it a third party that we need, or is it a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which could make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all the issues troubling the people?"

Other speakers at CPAC criticized Ford's administration policy, as well as Vice President Rockefeller and First Lady Betty Ford, for their public support of Roe v. Wade and the Equal Rights Amendment. This angered conservatives and added further support to the possibility of a presidential run by Reagan.

Ford drew more criticism from conservatives in 1975 in the area of foreign policy. Following the American evacuation of Saigon and the collapse of South Vietnam, Reagan compared the withdrawal from Saigon to the Munich Agreement. He said that it would "tempt the Soviet Union as it once tempted Hitler and the military rulers of Japan." Ford angered conservatives further when he refused to meet with Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn on his visit to the United States on June 21. In response, Reagan publicly criticized Ford by name for the first time in his national newspaper column for this. The day after this column ran, Senator Paul Laxalt announced the formation of a committee named "Friends of Ronald Reagan," organized for the purpose of drafting Reagan to run for President.

Ford went on an overseas trip to Eastern Europe, where he signed the Helsinki Accords, a treaty establishing that the current boundaries of Eastern European nations were "inviolable by force." Conservatives criticized Ford for capitulating to Soviet demands and for formally recognizing the Eastern bloc. By late August, Ford's approval rating was polled at 34%.

On August 24 in Sacramento, Ford survived the first of two attempts on his life by lone assassins. A second attempt was made nineteen days later on September 21.

In September, Reagan began to actively campaign in key early states. He campaigned in New Hampshire for Louis Wyman in the special election for Senate and began to assemble a campaign staff led by campaign manager John Sears. He secured the endorsement of New Hampshire's conservative governor Meldrim Thomson Jr. as well as support from moderate former governor Hugh Gregg.

On November 4, Vice President Nelson Rockefeller announced he would not seek nomination as Ford's running mate in 1976. On the same day, Ford fired Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger, who was critical of the Helsinki summit. That week, Ford traveled to Massachusetts and pledged to campaign in every primary in the nation. On November 20, Ronald Reagan officially announced his campaign for President.

On February 24, 1976, Ford narrowly defeated Reagan in the New Hampshire primary by 1.4%. He proceeded to beat Reagan in the Massachusetts, Vermont, Florida and Illinois primaries by comfortable margins. By the time of the North Carolina primary on March 23, 1976, Reagan's campaign was in trouble. It was nearly out of money, and it was widely believed that a loss there would force Reagan to quit the race. But Reagan was able to rescue his campaign with the help of the powerful political organization led by Senator Jesse Helms. Reagan defeated Ford in North Carolina by almost 7 percentage points.

The win gave Reagan's campaign new life. He proceeded to win a string of impressive victories, in Texas (where he won all delegates at stake in the state's first binding primary), Georgia, Indiana, and Nebraska. Ford bounced back to win in his native Michigan as well as in Maryland and West Virginia. But Reagan went on to win primaries in Arkansas, Idaho, Nevada, South Dakota and later in his home state of convention. Ford won primaries in Kentucky, Oregon, Tennessee, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Ohio.

Throughout the primary season, the two candidates engaged in an increasingly bitter nip-and-tuck contest for delegates. By the time the Republican Convention opened in August 1976 the race for the nomination was still too close to call. The 1976 Republican National Convention was held in Kansas City. As the convention began, Ford had a slight lead in delegate votes, but was still shy of the 1,130 delegates he needed to win the nomination.


Reagan and Ford battled for the votes of individual delegates and state delegations. In a bid to woo moderate Northern Republicans, Reagan tried a risky move. He announced that if he won the nomination, Senator Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania, from the northern liberal wing of the party, would be his running mate. The move backfired. A few moderates switched to Reagan, but many conservative delegates were outraged. The key state of Mississippi, which Reagan needed, narrowly voted to support Ford.

Ford went on to win the nomination on the first ballot. He chose Senator Robert Dole of Kansas as his running mate.

Presidential Primaries and Caucuses: The 2004 Democratic Party "Mini-Tuesday" Primaries

Mini-Tuesday was the name collectively given to the February 3, 2004 U.S. presidential primaries. That year several states which had previously participated in "Super Tuesday," moved their presidential contests up to February 3, 2004, in order to increase the significance of their election results. Five states held primaries and two held caucuses and that day. Pundits nicknamed it Mini-Tuesday or Super Tuesday I.

Up to that point in time the race took some unexpected turns. During the previous summer of 2003, Howard Dean had been considered the apparent front-runner for the Democratic nomination. Dean performed strongly in most polls and leading the pack in the all important fundraising category. He was one of the first candidates to utilize the internet for campaigning and for fundraising. The majority of his donations came from individual supporters, rather than corporate donors.

Dean had been considered to be a pragmatic centrist during his time as Governor of Vermont. But during his presidential campaign he adopted the stance of a left-wing populist, who was highly critical of the policies of the Bush administration. He had the advantage of having opposed the invasion of Iraq, which separated him from many other leading Democrats.

In September 2003, retired four-star general Wesley Clark announced his intention to run for the Democratic nomination. His campaign stressed leadership and played up Clark's strong military credentials. In his first few debates however, Clark failed to attract significant support.

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry was first considered to be bland and wooden in style, but his military background as someone who had served in Vietnam, while later criticizing the war, put him in a unique position. Heading into the primaries, Kerry's campaign was failing, particularly after Kerry fired his campaign manager Jim Jordan due to poor showing in the polls. But when fellow Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy assigned Mary Beth Cahill to be the new campaign manager, Kerry's campaign seemed to take on a new life. He mortgaged his home to lend the money to his campaign. Although his wife was a billionaire, campaign finance rules prohibited a candidate from using personal finances.

Kerry performed better than expected in the Iowa caucuses. He won 38% of the votes in the caucuses, while John Edwards took 32%. Dean slipped to 18% and into third place, while Richard Gephardt finished fourth with 11%. Gephardt dropped out of the race and later endorsed Kerry. Dean was hurt by a speech that he gave while at a post-caucus rally in which he gave the famous "Dean Scream". The scene was replayed constantly my the media. It was shown approximately 633 times by cable and broadcast news networks in just four days after the incident, an amount not including talk shows and local news broadcasts.

On January 27, Kerry won the New Hampshire primary. Dean finished second, Clark came in third, and Edwards placed fourth. The following week, Mini-Tuesday set the stage for determining whether Kerry would maintain his momentum or whether he would crash and burn. Five states held their primaries on Mini-Tuesday: Missouri, South Carolina, Arizona, Oklahoma and Delaware. Two states (New Mexico and North Dakota) held caucuses.

But for the states who moved their primaries ahead, the South Carolina primary might have had more significance in shaping the race. John Edwards, from the neighboring state of North Carolina, won the primary with 45% of the vote, while Kerry finished in second with 30.2%. No other candidate reached 10%. In Oklahoma Wesley Clark finished in first place, narrowly defeating Edwards by a margin of 30% to 29.5%, while Kerry was a close third with 26.8%.

But in the remaining three states of Arizona, Delaware and Missouri, Kerry ran the table. He finished first in each of those states. In Arizona he received 42.5%, while Clark was a second place finish with 26.7%. Edwards finished in fourth place with 9.6%. In Delaware, Kerry received 50.4% while Edwards received only 11%, a tenth of a percentage point behind home state Senator Joe Lieberman. In Dick Gephardt's home state of Missouri, Kerry received 42.5% of the vote. Clark finished second with 26.9% and Edwards came in fourth with 6.9%.

Kerry also swept the two caucus states, winning North Dakota with 50.8% and New Mexico with 42.8%. Clark finished second in each contest, while Edwards finished in fourth place in each race.

Lieberman dropped out of the campaign the following day. Kerry's support grew quickly. He went on to win caucuses and primaries in Michigan, Washington, Maine, Tennessee; Washington, D.C.; Nevada, Wisconsin, Utah, Hawaii, and Idaho. Clark and Dean dropped out of the race, leaving Edwards as the only real challenger to Kerry. Kucinich and Sharpton continued to run despite poor results at the polls.

On July 6, Kerry selected Edwards as his running mate. At the 2004 Democratic National Convention later that month, Kerry began his speech with, "I'm John Kerry and I'm reporting for duty." Kerry went on to lose the election to George W. Bush. The keynote address at the convention was delivered by an Illinois State Senator named Barack Obama. The speech was very well received.

Presidential Primaries and Caucuses: The 1984 Democratic Party Super Tuesday Primaries

In recent memory, the phrase "Super Tuesday" has come to refer to a Tuesday on which a large number of states hold their primaries or caucuses, resulting in the largest number of delegates being awarded to candidates during primary season. The two major political parties, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, formally choose their presidential candidates in nominating conventions attended by delegates from states. Today, state law determines how each parties' delegates are chosen in each state by either a primary election or a caucus and on what date those contests are held. States didn't always choose their convention delegates in this manner, but ober time, the process has evolved such that the parties have tried to take the delegate selection power away from party establishment or bosses in the states, and put it in the hands of voters.

The 1984 primary season seems to be the one in which the phrase "Super Tuesdays" was commonly used. There were actually three "Super Tuesdays", but the third being the day when delegates from just five states were selected: South Dakota, New Mexico, West Virginia, California and New Jersey. (In contrast, this year fourteen states will select their delegates on Super Tuesday, will be held on March 3rd: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia.)

During the 1984 primary season, only three candidates won any state primaries: Walter Mondale, Gary Hart, and Jesse Jackson. Former Vice President Mondale was considered as the favorite to win the Democratic nomination. Mondale had the largest number of party leaders supporting him, and he had raised more money than any other candidate. However, as history has shown, being considered as the front runner is often seen as a challenge by those wishing to balk at the wishes of party establishment and as a result, both Jackson and Hart became surprising and pesky opponents for Mondale.

Jackson was the second African-American to run a nationwide campaign for the presidency, and the first to be seen as a serious contender. He ended up receiving over 3.5 million votes during the primaries, finishing third behind Hart and Mondale. He managed to win Washington DC, South Carolina, and Louisiana, and split Mississippi, where there were two separate contests for Democratic delegates. What was especially significant about Jackson's campaign in the primaries, was that it confirmed the importance of African-American voters to the Democratic Party in the South at the time. Jackson's campaign was harmed that year when the candidate made an off-handed remark in which he reffered to Jews as "Hymies" and to New York City as "Hymietown". He later apologized for the remark, but his statement was widely publicized, and harmed his campaign, especially as the New York Primary approached. Jackson ended up winning 21% of the national primary vote but received only 8% of the delegates to the national convention. He blamed party rules that he claimed allowed Mondale to win. He was critical of Mondale, stating that Hubert Humphrey was the "last significant politician out of the St. Paul-Minneapolis" area.

Colorado Senator Gary Hart was not well-known at the time that he announced his candidacy in February of 1983. At first he barely received above 1% in the polls. To counter his lack of name recognition, Hart started campaigning early in New Hampshire, making what was then an unprecedented tour of the state in late September, five months before the primary. This strategy drew national media attention to his campaign. By late 1983, he had risen in the polls to the middle of the pack, gaining support from the failing campaigns of Senators John Glenn of Ohio and Alan Cranston of California. Mondale easily won the Iowa caucus in late February, but Hart did better than expected, receiving 16%. A week later, in the New Hampshire primary, he shocked much of the party establishment and the media by defeating Mondale by ten percentage points. Hart instantly became considered to be the main challenger to Mondale for the nomination.

Hart called Mondale an "old-fashioned" Great Society Democrat who symbolized the "failed policies" of the past. He presented himself as a younger, fresher, and more moderate alternative for Democrats and said that he was someone who could appeal to younger voters. His momentum grew as he won the Ohio and California primaries as well as several others, especially in the West.

But Hart could not overcome Mondale's financial and organizational advantages. Mondale had the support of labor union leaders in the Midwest and industrial Northeast. Hart was also badly hurt during a televised debate when Mondale used a popular television commercial slogan to ridicule Hart's vague "New Ideas" platform. Turning to Hart on camera, Mondale said that whenever he heard Hart talk about his "New Ideas", he was reminded of the Wendy's fast-food slogan "Where's the beef?". The remark drew loud laughter and applause from the audience and Hart appeared to be caught off-guard. Lacking any witty comeback, Hart never seemed to full recovered from Mondale's charge that his "New Ideas" were shallow and lacking in specifics.


In the same Democratic primary debate, Hart was asked what he would do if an unidentified airplane flew over the Iron Curtain from a Warsaw Pact nation. Hart replied that he would send up a United States Air Force plane and instruct them to determine whether or not it was an enemy plane by looking in the cockpit window to see if the pilots were wearing uniforms. Fellow candidate John Glenn, a former Marine Corps fighter pilot, replied that this was physically impossible.

At another debate, a round table event between the three remaining Democratic candidates (Mondale, Hart and Jackson) moderated by Phil Donahue, Mondale and Hart got in a heated argument over the issue of U.S. policy in Central America. Jackson tapped his water glass on the table and told the two men to simmer down.

As Hart began to lose momentum, Mondale gradually pulled away from Hart in the delegate count. The race was not decided until June, on what was dubbed as "Super Tuesday III". On that day delegates from five states were chosen: South Dakota, New Mexico, West Virginia, and the big prizes of California and New Jersey. The proportional nature of delegate selection meant that Mondale was likely to obtain enough delegates on that day to secure the stated support of an overall majority of delegates, no matter who actually "won" the states contested. But Hart presented the message that unpledged "superdelegates" that had previously claimed they would support Mondale, would change to his side if he swept the Super Tuesday III primaries. During the campaign, Hart offended New Jersey voters shortly before the primary when, while campaigning in California, he remarked that while the "bad news" was that he and his wife Lee had to campaign separately, but "the good news for her is that she campaigns in California while I campaign in New Jersey." When his wife interjected and said that she "got to hold a koala bear," Hart replied that "I won't tell you what I got to hold: samples from a toxic-waste dump."

Hart won California, he lost New Jersey after leading in polls by as much as 15 points. Hart won South Dakota and New Mexico, while Mondale won in West Virginia. By the time the Democratic Convention started in San Francisco Mondale had more than enough delegates to win the Democratic nomination.

However, after Mondale's humiliating loss to Ronald Reagan in the 1984 Presidential election, Gary Hart would quickly emerge as the front-runner for the Democratic Party's 1988 presidential nomination. He would maintain that status until a sex scandal derailed his candidacy in 1987.

Remembering John Quincy Adams

On February 23, 1848 (172 years ago today) John Quincy Adams, the 6th President of the United States, died in the Speaker's Room in the Capitol Building in Washington, DC. He was 78 years of age.

John Quincy Adams isn't remembered as one of the greatest Presidents, and he really made his reputation after his Presidency, as a very fierce anti-slavery advocate and an abolitionist. He was also one of the nation's most able diplomats, a craft he learned at a very young age from his father, the second President of the United States, John Adams. John Quincy served as a diplomat, a United States Senator and a member of the House of Representatives. He was a member of the Federalist, Democratic-Republican, National Republican, and later the Anti-Masonic and Whig parties. As a diplomat, Adams played an important role in negotiating many international treaties, including the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812. As Secretary of State in the administration of James Monroe, he negotiated with Great Britain over the United States' northern border with Canada, he negotiated with Spain for the annexation of Florida, and he wrote the Monroe Doctrine, which set out the nation's policy on interference by European nations in geopolitics in the Western hemisphere. Many historians view him as one of the greatest diplomats and secretaries of state in American history.

He was elected president in 1824 in one of the most controversial elections in the nation's history. He finished second in popular and electoral vote to Andrew Jackson, but since no candidate had a majority of electoral votes, the election was decided by the House of Representatives and John Quincy Adams was selected president over Jackson. Thereafter, Jackson accused John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay of forging a "corrupt bargain" which resulted in Adams becoming President and Clay becoming Secretary of State, which at the time, was seen as a springboard to the presidency.

As President, John Quincy Adams sought to modernize the American economy and he promoted education. On his watch much of the national debt was paid off. But he was stymied by a Congress controlled by his enemies, and his lack of patronage networks hurt his chances for re-election. He lost his 1828 bid for re-election to Andrew Jackson. In doing so, he became the first president since his father to serve a single term.

Adams was elected as a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts after leaving office, serving for the last 17 years of his life with far greater distinction than he had achieved as president. He is, so far, the only president later elected to the United States House of Representatives. He was a very aggressive opponent of slavery and of what he called the Slave Power. His protests in the House against slavery were met with "gag orders" and he successfully argued the famous case of the Amistad before the US Supreme Court. He predicted that if a civil war were to break out, the president could abolish slavery by using his war powers. Adams also predicted the Union's dissolution over the slavery issue, but said that if the South became independent there would be a series of bloody slave revolts.

In 1846, the 78-year old former president suffered a stroke that left him partially paralyzed. After a few months of rest, he made a full recovery and resumed his duties in Congress. When he entered the House chamber, his fellow congressmen "stood up and applauded." On February 21, 1848, the House of Representatives was discussing the matter of honoring U.S. Army officers who served in the Mexican–American War. Adams had been a vehement critic of the war because he believed that its purpose was to expand the institution of slavery. As Congressmen rose up to say "Aye" in favor of the measure, Adams yelled "No!" He rose to answer a question put forth by the Speaker of the House, but he then collapsed, having suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage. He was taken to a bed in the Speaker's Room of the Capitol. Two days later, on February 23, he died there with his wife and son at his side. His last words were "This is the last of earth. I am content." He died at 7:20 p.m.

I haven't read of any reports of John Quincy Adams' ghost haunting the halls of the Capitol. The presence of his conscience would be beneficial in any age.

Presidential Primaries and Caucuses: The 1952 Democratic Party Primaries

1951 was not a good year for Harry Truman. The incumbent President had won an upset, come-from-behind victory in 1948. He was eligible to run for re-election in 1952 and he considered running for re-election. In Gallup polls taken before 1951, Truman finished strongly in first place, at anywhere between 35 and 44 percent. His closest opponent in these polls was Franklin Roosevelt Jr. who came in at anywhere between 12 and 22 percent.

That all changed in the next two years. As 1952 began, Truman saw his standing in opinion polls dripping rapidly. The war in Korea had began, and as casualties mounted, there was no end in sight in conflict, which was now going into its third year, Senator Joseph McCarthy's anti-Communist crusade was stirring up public fears of the “Red Menace” at home. Disclosure of widespread corruption among federal employees, including some high-level members of Truman's administration, spelled bad news for Truman.

Truman's first viable opponent was populist Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver. Kefauver had chaired a nationally televised investigation of organized crime in 1951. He had earned a reputation as a crusader against crime and corruption. The Gallup poll of February 15 showed Truman's popularity crashing. Nationally Truman was now the choice of only 36% of Democrats, compared to 21% for Kefauver. Among independent voters, Truman had only 18% support in Gallup's polling, while Kefauver led with 36%.

The message came through loud and clear for Truman in the New Hampshire primary, the first of 14 such contests held by the Democratic Party in 1952. When the primary arrived, Truman had not stated whether he would seek re-election. No other candidate had won Truman's backing. Although the Twenty-second Amendment had been ratified by this time, Truman could run for another term due to a grandfather clause in the amendment. Then Kefauver won an upset over Truman in the primary, winning 19,800 votes to Truman's 15,927. The contest was winner-take-all and capturing all eight delegates. Rather than gloat about his victory, Kefauver was gracious and said that he did not consider his victory "a repudiation of Administration policies, but a desire for new ideas and personalities."

Truman took the defeat very hard. He was stung by this loss, and after some soul-searching, he concluded that 1952 would not be a repeat of 1948 for him. Truman soon announced that he would not seek re-election. Later in his memoirs however, Truman maintained that he had decided not to run for re-election well before his defeat by Kefauver.

After Truman announced his withdrawal from the race, Kefauver became the front-runner for the nomination. His style of populism was well-suited for the primary system. He went on to win most of the remaining primaries, scoring victories in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oregon and California. Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey won his home state, while Georgia Senator Richard Russell won the Florida Primary. There was no victor in the West Virginia Primary.

But in 1952, primaries were not the main method of delegate selection for the national convention. Kefauver came to the 1952 Democraric Party Convention in Chicago still needing a few hundred votes still for a majority of the delegates. Those states that did not hold primaries were guided by the leadership of local party leadership of bosses. Although he began the balloting far ahead of the other declared candidates, Kefauver eventually lost the nomination to Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson, the choice of the Democratic Party political bosses. Stevenson was a one-term governor who was up for reelection in 1952. He had resisted calls to enter the race. He was nominated as the result of a "Draft Stevenson" movement. He had delivered an eloquent keynote speech on the opening night of the convention.

Party bosses, especially the mayors and governors of large Northern and Midwestern states and cities, had enough clout in 1952 to choose the Democratic nominee. These bosses included President Truman. He had risen politically thanks to the help of Kansas City Democratic Party boss Tom Prendergast. All of these bosses strongly disliked Kefauver. His investigations of organized crime had revealed connections between mafia figures and many of the big-city Democratic political organizations. The party bosses considered Kefauver to be a maverick who could not be trusted, and they refused to support him for the nomination.

At the convention, with President Truman taking the lead, the party establishment began to search for a better alternative. They considered Senator Richard Russell of Georgia, who had a lot of Southern support. But his support of racial segregation and opposition to civil rights for Southern African-Americans led Northern delegates to reject him as a racist. Harry Truman liked U.S. diplomat W. Averell Harriman of New York, but Harriman had not yet ever held an elective office and Truman wanted someone with more political experience, Truman next turned to his Vice-President, Alben Barkley, but labor union leader considered the 74 year old Vice-President to be too old for the job.

The one candidate who seemed to tick all of the boxes for Truman and the bosses was Governor Adlai Stevenson II of Illinois. He was the grandson of former Vice-President Adlai E. Stevenson. He was a gifted orator, an intellectual, and a political moderate. In the spring of 1952 Truman had previously tried to convince Stevenson to take the presidential nomination, but Stevenson refused. He told Truman that he wanted to run for re-election as Governor of Illinois.

The 1952 Democratic National Convention was held in the International Amphitheatre in Chicago, the same venue where the Republicans had gathered two weeks earlier. The primary season had been decisively in Kefauver's favor and he had momentum coming in. Truman was still angry at the Tennessee Senator, who he pejoratively called Senator "Cow-Fever's". Kefauver had defeat of him in New Hampshire, but the Tennessee Senator was unable to get enough delegate strength at the convention to win the nomination outright.

It took three ballots for Stevenson to pull ahead of Kefauver and win the nomination, ultimately by a margin of 617.5 to 275.5. They chose a ticket of Adlai Stevenson and Alabama Senator John Sparkman as his running mate. The duo went on to lost the election to Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon on November 4, 1952. Despite the defeat, Stevenson was four years later again selected as the Democratic presidential nominee at the 1956 Democratic National Convention, this time with Kefauver as his running mate.

Presidential Primaries and Caucuses: The 2008 Nevada Caucuses

In 2008, incumbent President George Bush was finishing his second term in office, and was ineligible to run for a third term, though it was unlikely that he would have even if he could. Bush's approval ratings were low, and the nation was in the mood for change. Vice President Dick Cheney chose not to seek the nomination and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also opted not to run, even though her candidacy had the potential to set a precedent in two categories. The race for the 2008 presidential nomination was wide open in both parties. The Democrats now controlled both houses of Congress. In early 2007, three prominent Republican candidates had thrown their hats in the ring: former Wisconsin Governor and Cabinet member Tommy Thompson, former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, and Kansas Senator Sam Brownback. Former Virginia Senator George Allen, son of the famous NFL Coach of the same name, was considered a top contender until his loss in the midterm elections. On December 10, 2006 he announced that he would not seek the 2008 nomination.

In early January former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney announced he was forming an exploratory committee. Shortly thereafter, several others candidates announced they were running, including Congressman Ron Paul, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Arizona Senator John McCain, California Congressman Duncan Hunter, and Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo. A poll released in early February had Giuliani in the lead with 32% and McCain in second with 18%. Alan Keyes of Illinois and former Tennesses Senator (and Law and Order actor) Fred Thompson entered the race later in September.

The first two candidates to drop out of the race were Gilmore in July and Thompson in August. Brownback dropped out in October and Tancredo left the race in December.

On January 3, 2008, the Iowa caucuses were held and the results shook things up. Huckabee finished first at 30%, Romney was next at 27%, McCain and Thompson tied at 12%, Paul received 7%, and Giuliani got 6%. In the New Hampshire Primary, both McCain and Romney spent a lot of time and resources in the state. McCain had won the state eight years earlier in 2000, but Romney was from neighboring Massachusetts and owned a home in New Hampshire. On Primary night, McCain won the state by a margin of 37–32% over Romney, and Huckabee beat Giuliani for third 11–9%. After the results, Huckabee decided to focus on the South Carolina primary, while both McCain and Romney went to Michigan to campaign.

Romney won the low profile Wyoming caucus. Predictions for the January 15 Michigan primary were for a tight race between McCain and Romney. McCain's campaign raised about $1 million in newly contributed funds immediately after the New Hampshire win, but still had $3.5 million in debt. As the Michigan race entered its final days, McCain gained some publicity by sending out mailers there and in South Carolina attacking Romney's tax record. McCain said, "It's not negative campaigning. I think it's what his record is. It's a tough business." The main issue in Michigan was the economy. Michigan had the nation's largest unemployment rate, at 7.4 percent, and was continuing to lose jobs from its manufacturing base. McCain candidly said "There are some jobs that aren't coming back to Michigan," and proposed federal job training plans. Romney called McCain's statement overly pessimistic and promoted instead his family pedigree in the automobile industry in the state. This appeared to seal the deal for Romney, who won the state by a margin of 39% to 30% for McCain.

Romney was heavily favored to win Nevada, coming off his big win in Michigan. He was leading 34% to 19% in polls. On the day of the caucuses he did even better than he expected. Romney received 51% of the vote with Ron Paul beating out John McCain for second place. Romney campaigned hard in Nevada and it looked like he was now the front runner in the race. But as history proved, a lot can change on the way to the finish line.

Romney did not campaign in South Carolina. McCain and Huckabee worked hard in the state. However, Nevada had more delegates at stake than South Carolina. Romney's win in Nevada extended his lead in total delegates, thanks in part to Nevada's large Mormon population which helped Romney win the state. After coming last in Nevada, Duncan Hunter withdrew from the race for the nomination.

Huckabee needed a win South Carolina for his campaign to remain viable. Polling that month placed McCain in the lead with 27%, followed by Huckabee with 25%, Romney with 15%, Thompson with 15%, Paul with 4%, and Giuliani with 3%. Thompson started attacking Huckabee, questioning his conservative credentials. The battle in the state between these two southern candidates worked in McCain's favor, as he narrowly won by 14,743 or 3%. The victory gave McCain momentum, with the upcoming Florida Primary. Thompson placed third. He was criticized for not working hard enough for the nomination and he withdrew from the race the next day.

McCain's campaign gathered momentum that set him up for a larger and more important victory over Romney in Florida on January 29. With a third-place finish in Florida, Giuliani withdrew from the nomination race and endorsed McCain the next day. McCain was also endorsed by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger before the California primary took place on Super Tuesday. This gave him a significant boost in the polls for the state's primary, which awarded the greatest number of delegates of all the states. On Super Tuesday, McCain won his home state of Arizona, taking all 53 delegates. He also won nearly all of California's 173 delegates, the largest of the Super Tuesday states. He also was victorious in seven other states, picking up 574 delegates. Huckabee surprised many by winning 5 states and 218 delegates. Romney won 7 states and 231 delegates.

Two days later, Romney suspended his presidential campaign. He said that if he had remained in the race, he would "forestall the launch of a national campaign and be making it easier for Senator Clinton or Obama to win". Huckabee and Paul fought on against McCain, while Romney endorsed McCain on February 14. McCain clinched the Republican nomination after sweeping all four primaries, Texas, Ohio, Vermont, and Rhode Island, putting him over the top of the 1,191 delegates required to win the GOP nomination.

George Washington's Birthday

In the first half of the 18th century, Americans operated under the old style Julian calendar (named for Julius Caesar). According to that calendar, George Washington, the first President of the United States, was born on February 11, 1731. But when the colony of Virginia changed to the Gregorian calendar (the calendar named for Pope Gregory XIII) implemented in the British Empire in 1752, according to the provisions of the Calendar (New Style) Act 1750, the date of George Washington's birth became February 22, 1732. So that makes today George Washington's 288th birthday.

The story about George chopping down a cherry tree (and fessing up when busted for it) is now acknowledged to be a myth, and is called "Parson Weems' Fable" (after the so-called "historian" who first told the story). But even so, there is much to be impressed about the first child of Augustine Washington and his second wife, Mary Ball Washington. George Washington was born on his father's Pope's Creek Estate near present-day Colonial Beach in Westmoreland County, Virginia. Washington's ancestors were from Sulgrave, England; his great-grandfather, John Washington, had immigrated to Virginia in 1657. George's father Augustine was a slave-owning tobacco planter who later tried his hand in iron-mining. The Washingtons were relatively prosperous members of the Virginia gentry.

George's father died when George was 11 years old, after which George's half-brother Lawrence became a surrogate father and role model. William Fairfax, Lawrence's father-in-law and cousin of Virginia's largest landowner, Thomas, Lord Fairfax, was also a mentor and a strong influence on young George. Lawrence Washington inherited another family property from his father, a plantation on the Potomac River which he later named Mount Vernon. George inherited Ferry Farm upon his father's death, and eventually acquired Mount Vernon after Lawrence's death.

The death of his father prevented Washington from crossing the Atlantic to receive the rest of his education at England's Appleby School, as his older brothers had done. He was educated by a variety of tutors, and also a school run by an Anglican clergyman in or near Fredericksburg. His mother nixed young George's plans of securing an appointment in the Royal Navy when he was 15. Thanks to Lawrence's connection to the powerful Fairfax family, at age 17 in 1749, Washington was appointed official surveyor for Culpepper County, a well-paid position which enabled him to purchase land in the Shenandoah Valley, the first of his many land acquisitions in western Virginia.

Washington was six feet tall, which was NBA tall for the times. He is said to have towered over most of his contemporaries. In 1751, Washington traveled to Barbados with Lawrence, who was suffering from tuberculosis, in the hope that the climate would be beneficial to Lawrence's health. Washington contracted smallpox during the trip, which left his face slightly scarred, but immunized him against future exposures to the dreaded disease. Lawrence's health did not improve; he returned to Mount Vernon, where he died in 1752. Washington was appointed by Governor Dinwiddie to the rank of major in the Virginia militia in 1753. He also joined the Freemasons in Fredericksburg at this time.

Washington quickly became a senior officer in the colonial forces during the first stages of the French and Indian War. Chosen by the Continental Congress in 1775 to be commander-in-chief of the Continental Army in the American Revolution, Washington managed to force the British out of Boston in 1776, but was defeated and almost captured later that year when he lost New York City. After crossing the Delaware River in the dead of winter, he defeated the British in two battles, retook New Jersey and restored momentum to the Patriot cause. Revolutionary forces ultimately captured two major British armies at Saratoga in 1777 and Yorktown in 1781. It wasn't easy for Washington, as he had to hold together the army, amid poor morale, a lack of support from colonial governments, a meddling congress and egotistical generals. In battle Washington was repeatedly outmaneuvered by British generals with larger armies. His accomplishments are quite amazing, given all of the obstacles and the enemy that he faced.

After victory had been finalized in 1783, Washington resigned rather than seize power, proving his opposition to dictatorship and his commitment to American republicanism. Dissatisfied with the weaknesses of Articles of Confederation, in 1787 Washington presided over the Constitutional Convention that drafted the United States Constitution. He was selected as the first President in 1789 and remained in office for two precedent setting terms. He managed to keep the nation together amid the factions that competed for power: the Federalists led by Treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton and the Republicans led by Thomas Jefferson. Despite this divergence, it was amazing how both sides showed great deference to their former General. He supported Alexander Hamilton's programs to pay off all state and national debt, to implement an effective tax system and to create a national bank (despite opposition from Thomas Jefferson). Washington proclaimed the U.S. neutral in the wars raging in Europe after 1793. He avoided war with Great Britain and guaranteed a decade of peace and profitable trade by securing the Jay Treaty in 1795, despite intense opposition from the Jeffersonians.


Washington retired from the presidency in 1797 and returned to his home, Mount Vernon, and his domestic life where he managed a variety of enterprises. He freed all his slaves by his final 1799 will. Washington's "Farewell Address" was an influential primer on republican virtue and a warning against partisanship, sectionalism, and involvement in foreign wars.

On his death, Washington was eulogized as "first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen". As the leader of the first successful revolution against a colonial empire in world history, Washington became an international symbol of liberation. He is consistently ranked among the top three presidents of the United States, according to polls of both scholars and the general public.

Presidential Primaries and Caucuses: The 2008 South Carolina Democratic Primary

The 2008 race for the Democratic Party's Presidential nomination began with a field of at least nine prominent candidates. Democrats smelled victory in 2008 as incumbent President George W. Bush experienced a steep decline in popularity and approval. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were lasting longer than anticipated, and the economy beginning a decline that would lead to the Great Recession of 2008. Record deficit budgets were being incurred making the election of a Republican successor to Bush appear highly unlikely. Many Democrats saw themselves as suitable replacements for Bush, but by Super Tuesday it was really a race between the two leading contenders: Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton on New York and Barack Obama of Illinois.

The 2008 primary calendar began with the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. Obama surprised everyone with a first place finish in Iowa, while Clinton rebounded with a victory in New Hampshire. The Nevada caucuses and the South Carolina primary were scheduled to be the third and fourth contests sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee. Under the DNC rules, no state was allowed to hold primaries or caucuses before February 5 with the exceptions of these four states. In defiance of the rules, Michigan and Florida held early primaries, but these contests were unsanctioned by the DNC. Whether or not the results of these would be recognized by the national committee would not be decided until months later.

Obama won the Iowa caucuses with 38% of the vote, followed by former North Carolina senator John Edwards with 30% and Clinton with 29%. Obama's victory gave him considerable momentum. In a speech given on the evening of that victory, he declared that "change" would be the primary theme of his campaign. He told the crowd, "On this January night, at this defining moment in history, you have done what the cynics said we couldn't do."

Obama's victory ignored the fact that even with a third-place finish in the popular vote, Clinton and Obama won the same number of delegates. But her third place finish damaged the impression that her victory was inevitable. She brushed off the loss, saying "Our campaign was built for a marathon." Despite the brave face, news reports surfaced about panic among some Clinton donors.

Senators Joe Biden and Chris Dodd both withdrew from the race after Iowa. Many expected that Obama would ride a wave of momentum through the New Hampshire primary and then go on to win the Democratic nomination. Many pundits wrote eulogies for the Clinton campaign. Obama enjoyed a 10-point lead in the New Hampshire primary polls. But in the days before the primary, Clinton mounted a comeback. At the Saint Anselm College New Hampshire debate on January 5, 2008, John Edwards joined Obama in an attack against Clinton. Clinton fought back, stating: "Making change is not about what you believe; it's not about a speech you make. It's about working hard. I'm not just running on a promise for change. I'm running on 35 years of change. What we need is somebody who can deliver change. We don't need to be raising false hopes." On the morning before the primary, Clinton was visibly emotional in response to a question from a voter. New Hampshire voters responded favorably and Clinton won a surprising 3% victory over Obama in the popular vote. They tied in the delegate count. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson withdrew from the race on January 10.

Momentum shifted in Clinton's favor, and she won the popular vote in the Nevada caucuses eleven days later, despite Obama's endorsement from the influential Culinary Workers Union. However, Obama beat Clinton in the delegate count. Edwards's support collapsed in Nevada. Congressman Dennis Kucinich withdrew from the race.

In the following week, in the South Carolina primary was held, he first to feature a large proportion of African Americans in the Democratic electorate. Clinton fell behind in the polls and left the state to campaign in some Super Tuesday states. Her husband, former president Bill Clinton, stayed in South Carolina and engaged in a series of exchanges with Obama. It proved to be the wrong strategy. As CBS News reported, "By injecting himself into the Democratic primary campaign with a series of inflammatory and negative statements, Bill Clinton may have helped his wife's presidential hopes in the long term but at the cost of his reputation with a group of voters" (referring to African American voters) "that have long been one of his strongest bases of political support."

The issue of race was an important one during the campaign for the January 26 South Carolina primary. In the January 22 CNN/Congressional Black Caucus debate in Myrtle Beach, CNN described the event as a "debate punctuated by sharp exchanges." Clinton criticized Obama for voting "present" on many occasions while in the Illinois Senate. "It's hard to have a straight up debate with you because you never take responsibility for any vote." she said. Obama said that he was working to help unemployed workers in Chicago while Clinton was "a corporate lawyer sitting on the board at Wal-Mart." He also criticized Clinton for statements made on the campaign trail by Bill Clinton. He remarked, "I can't tell who I'm running against sometimes." This turned out to be the most-watched primary season debate in cable television news history. After the debate, Hillary Clinton left to campaign in some Super Tuesday states, while Bill Clinton stayed in South Carolina and engaged in a series of exchanges with Obama. Clinton was criticized for her decision to leave the state.

On January 26, Obama won the South Carolina Primary by a more than two-to-one margin over Clinton. Obama received 55 percent of the vote to 27 percent for Clinton and 18 percent for Edwards. Bill Clinton compared Obama's victory to Jesse Jackson's victory in the 1988 South Carolina primary. He said "Jackson ran a good campaign. And Obama ran a good campaign here." Bill Clinton was criticized for these comments, which were seen as implying that Obama was "the black candidate." Hillary Clinton later apologized for her husband's remarks in front of the State of the Black Union conference. She had already left the state and gave her concession speech from Tennessee State University, where she said she was looking forward to the February 5 Super Tuesday contests.

Obama's larger-than-expected win in South Carolina added to his momentum. Clinton claimed victory in the nullified Florida primary the following week. John Edwards suspended his candidacy on January 30, but did not endorse either Clinton or Obama. Neither Clinton nor Obama had a clear advantage heading into the February 5 Super Tuesday primaries, with 23 states and territories and 1,681 delegates at stake and more media attention than any primary election day in American history. It was there that Barack Obama would increase his lead in the contest.

Presidential Primaries and Caucuses: The 1972 Maryland Democratic Primary

In the 1972 election, Richard Nixon would eventually achieve a landslide victory over Democrat George McGovern. But as the election approached, Nixon's re-election was far from certain. Nixon had been elected in 1968 on a platform to end American involvement in Vietnam, but four years later, the war raged on. Nixon's strategy of gradually handing over operational control of the war to the South Vietnamese military, a policy known as Vietnamization, was going more slowly than Nixon had planned. Rather than deescalating American involvement, Nixon seemed to be prolonging the conflict by invading Cambodia in 1970. This move led to increased criticism of Nixon in the press and Congress. Protests and disorder on college campuses grew, and the Paris Peace Talks were going nowhere. On the domestic front, the nation was experiencing a sharp recession in 1969 that was shaking investor confidence. Nixon's plan to control inflation with wage and price controls was not meeting its objective. Republican's lost seats in the 1970 midterm elections.

Sensing possible victory a large field of Democratic challengers emerged. The establishment favorite for the Democratic nomination was Ed Muskie, a moderate who performed well as the 1968 Democratic vice-presidential candidate. After Muskie's campaign fell apart following an incident in New Hampshire in which Muskie was the target of an attack in the Manchester Union Leader.

On January 13, 1972, Alabama Governor George Wallace declared himself a Democratic candidate for the party's presidential nomination. He won an early victory on March 14th in the Florida primary, where he finished in first place in every county and won 42 percent of the vote. During the race, Wallace announced that he no longer supported segregation and he declared himself to be a "moderate" on racial issues. However Wallace also expressed his continued opposition to desegregation busing.

For the next four months, Wallace's campaign proceeded extremely well. He won primaries in North Carolina, Michigan, Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina and Texas. The Maryland Primary was scheduled for May 16th and Wallace was doing well in polls there. On May 15, 1972 Wallace was in Laurel, Maryland campaigning at the Laurel Shopping Center there. While speaking at the event Wallace was shot five times by Arthur Bremer, an unemployed busboy from Wisconsin. Bremer had been at a Wallace rally in Wheaton, Maryland, earlier that day and two days earlier at a rally in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

After a short relationship ended, Bremer quit his two jobs. On March 1, 1972, Bremer wrote in his diary, "It is my personal plan to assassinate by pistol either Richard Nixon or George Wallace. I intend to shoot one or the other while he attends a campaign rally for the Wisconsin Primary." The following evening, Bremer attended an organizational meeting for Wallace at The Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee. On March 23, he attended a Wallace dinner and rally at Milwaukee's Red Carpet Airport Inn. Then on April 3, he attended a Wallace victory rally at a Holiday Inn in Milwaukee. On April 10, he traveled from Milwaukee to Ottawa where President Nixon would be. Three days later, Bremer, dressed in a business suit, wearing sunglasses and with a revolver in his pocket, he embarked on an attempt to assassinate Nixon but could not find an opportunity to do so because of tight security. He returned to Milwaukee where he remained for most of the following three weeks.

On May 4, 1972, Bremer concluded in his diary that it would be almost impossible to assassinate Nixon, and declared that it was Wallace's "fate" to be his victim . Bremer note that Wallace "certainly won't be buried with the snobs in Washington. I won't even rate a TV interruption in Russia or/Europe when the news breaks— they never heard of Wallace." Early on the morning of May 9, 1972 Bremer took a ferry to Ludington, Michigan and visited the Wallace campaign headquarters in Silver Lake, Michigan and offered to be a volunteer. He attended a Wallace rally in Lansing. On the afternoon of May 13, Kalamazoo Police received an anonymous phone call saying a suspicious looking person had been sitting in a car near the National Guard Armory. When questioned, Bremer said he was waiting for the Wallace rally to begin and wanted to get a good seat. Bremer slept in his car for the following two nights, as he had done on some nights the previous week. He made his final diary entry on May 14, 1972, when he drove to Maryland.

Bremer turned up in Wheaton, Maryland, for a noon appearance which Wallace made at Wheaton Plaza, during a shopping center rally on May 15, 1972, dressed in dark glasses, wearing a campaign button which said "WALLACE in '72". He strongly applauded Wallace. Hecklers taunted Wallace and two tomatoes were thrown at the candidate during the rally. As a result, Wallace did not shake hands with anyone, denying Bremer the opportunity to carry out his plan.

At a second rally, which took place at Laurel Shopping Center, 16 miles away in Laurel, Maryland. About 1,000 people were present and the crowd was more friendly to Wallace. After he had finished speaking, Wallace shook hands with some of those present, against the advice of his Secret Service guards. At approximately 4:00 p.m., Bremer pushed his way forward, aimed his .38 revolver at Wallace's abdomen and opened fire, emptying the weapon before he could be tackled to the ground. He hit Wallace four times. One bullet lodged in his spinal cord. The other bullets hit Wallace in the abdomen and chest.

The bullet that lodged in Wallace's spinal column left him paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of his life. Wallace underwent a five-hour operation that evening. On August 4, 1972, Bremer was sentenced to 63 years in prison, later reduced to 53 years. Bremer served 35 years and was released on parole on November 9, 2007.

Following the assassination attempt, Wallace was visited at the hospital by Democratic Congresswoman and presidential primary rival Shirley Chisholm, an African-American representative from Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. At the time, she was the nation's only African-American female member of Congress. Chisholm was criticized by her constituents for doing so, but she said that she felt visiting Wallace was the humane thing to do. Other people to visit Wallace in hospital were President Nixon, Vice President Spiro Agnew, Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern and Ted Kennedy. He also received telegrams from former President Lyndon Johnson, future President Ronald Reagan and Pope Paul VI.

The day after the shooting, Wallace won the primaries in Maryland with 38.67% of the vote. The same day he won the Michigan primary with almost 51% of the vote there. But Wallace ended his campaign. Speaking from his wheelchair, Wallace spoke on July 11, 1972, at the Democratic National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida. Wallace later resumed his gubernatorial duties.

It was later discovered that the Nixon campaign's dirty trick squad attempted to plant McGovern campaign literature in Bremer's apartment as a means to drive Wallace supporters away from the Democratic Party and towards the Republicans. In the end, McGovern succeeded in winning the nomination.

Presidential Primaries and Caucuses: The 1988 South Carolina Democratic Caucuses

In 1988, the South Carolina was not an early primary as it is today. It was held on March 12th, four days after that year's "Super Tuesday". South Carolina's primary is memorable because of a significant victory there by the Reverend Jesse Jackson, the first African-American candidate to win a presidential primary or caucus. Jackson first achieved that milestone in a number of contests on Super Tuesday with victories in primaries in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Virginia. South Carolina was the first primary in which Jackson won more than 50% of the vote, and for a time it looked as if his campaign might gather sufficient momentum to have him become the first African-American to be the presidential nominee for one of the two major parties.

After suffering a huge defeats in the 1984 presidential election, the Democrats were more optimistic about their chances in 1988 because of the continuing Iran Contra scandal. The had won large gains in the 1986 mid-term elections which resulted in the Democrats taking back control of the Senate after six years of a Republican majority. Establishment party leaders tried to recruit New York Governor Mario Cuomo to be their candidate. Cuomo had impressed many Democrats with his stirring keynote speech at the 1984 Democratic Convention, and many Democrats believed that he would be a strong candidate.

When Cuomo chose not to run, the Democratic front-runner for most of 1987 was former Colorado Senator Gary Hart. He positioned himself as a moderate centrist and many Democrats felt that his broad appeal might be just the kind of candidate that their party would need to win back the White House. But Hart was dogged by rumors about possible extramarital affairs. The Miami Herald received an anonymous tip from a friend of Donna Rice that Rice was involved with Hart. After the two were seen meeting privately by Herald reporters, the story gained legs and on May 8, 1987, a week after the Donna Rice story broke, Hart dropped out of the race.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts had been considered a potential candidate, but he ruled himself out of the 1988 campaign in December 1985. Delaware Senator Joe Biden looked like a credible candidate, but his campaign which in controversy after he was accused of plagiarizing a speech by Neil Kinnock, the leader of the British Labour Party. Biden was also accused of plagiarism years before, while in law school. Though Biden denied any wrongdoing, the controversy caused hum to drop out of the race. Governor Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts later acknowledged that his campaign was responsible for leaking the tape creating the controversy, and two members of his staff resigned. The Delaware Supreme Court's Board on Professional Responsibility would later clear Biden of the law school plagiarism charges.

In December 1987, Hart surprised many political pundits by resuming his presidential campaign. He briefly led in the polls for the Democratic nomination, but subsequent the allegations of irregularities in his campaign financing appeared to deliver a fatal blow to his candidacy. In the Iowa caucuses, Missouri Congressman Richard Gephardt finished first, former Senator Paul Simon of Illinois finished second, and Dukakis finished third. In the New Hampshire primary, Dukakis finished first, Gephardt finished second, and Simon finished third.

But it would be Dukakis and civil rights leader Jesse Jackson who would outlast all of the other candidates. In early 1988, Jackson had organized a rally at the former American Motors assembly plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin, approximately two weeks after the plant's new owner Chrysler announced that it would close the plant by the end of the year. In his speech, Jackson spoke out against Chrysler's decision. He told his audience, "We have to put the focus on Kenosha, Wisconsin, as the place, here and now, where we draw the line to end economic violence!" Jackson drew a strong comparison between the Kenosha workers' fight with that of the civil rights movement that he had been a part of in Selma, Alabama. As a result, the UAW Local 72 union voted to endorse his candidacy. Despite this endorsement however, in April Jackson lost the Wisconsin Primary to Dukakis by a margin of 47% to 30%.

One of the tactics that the Dukakis campaign used to discredit Jackson was to bring up the matter of Jackson's half-brother Noah Robinson, Jr.'s criminal activity. Jackson had to answer frequent questions about his brother, who was often called "the Billy Carter of the Jackson campaign".

In the Super Tuesday races, Dukakis won six primaries, but Jackson won five primaries, four of which were states in the deep south, as well as winning in Virginia. The candidates continued to battle, with Tennessee Senator Al Gore attempting to portray Dukakis as too liberal for the general election. Gore's strategy failed to gain traction within the party and he eventually withdrew. After Super Tuesday, Paul Simon would win his home state of Illinois, but the majority of the remaining primary races would be between Dukakis and Jackson.

Jackson had a home field advantage in South Carolina. He was born in the state, in Greenville. He had won the state in 1984 when South Carolina held caucuses. In 1984 they fell on the same Saturday as caucuses in Michigan, Arkansas and Mississippi, as well as a primary in Puerto Rico. Neither Gary Hart nor Walter Mondale put much effort into South Carolina, as both candidates had their eyes on the upcoming primary in Illinois. Mondale used that contest to rescue his campaign. Mondale and Hart decided to concede the state to Jackson. In 1984 although Jackson “won” the caucuses, he actually finished second, well behind “uncommitted”, with 25 percent.

In 1988, the caucuses once again fell after Super Tuesday, but before Illinois. Sensing that the fishing might be better elsewhere, all of the major contenders expended little of their campaign resources in the state, leaving it possible for Jackson to once again secure a victory there. Super Tuesday had essentially ended up as a three-way tie between Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, and Jackson. Dukakis and Gore decided to spend more of their effort in Illinois and Michigan (which caucused the Saturday after Illinois). Gore hoped to extend his momentum into a non-Southern state, while Dukakis believed Illinois and Michigan wins could wrap up the nomination for him. Both essentially left South Carolina to Jackson. This time he improved on his ’84 performance winning almost 55% percent of votes.

Jackson would go on to win caucuses in Michigan and Deleware as well as minor victories in DC and Puerto Rico. But his momentum was hirt by a narrow loss to Dukakis in Colorado, and especially by Dukakis' comfortable win in Wisconsin, a state that Jackson was expected to win. These victories established Dukakis as the clear Democratic frontrunner, and he went on to claim the party's nomination.

Jackson had ran on what many considered to be a very liberal platform. He declared that he wanted to create a "Rainbow Coalition" of various minority groups, including African Americans, Hispanics, Middle Eastern Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, family farmers, the poor and working class, and LGBT people, as well as white progressives. He did not run for president again. Twenty years later, when Barack Obama was elected President, Jackson said that he believed that he had played some role in helping to create the circumstances for the 2008 election.

In 1988 no prominent white Democratic officials endorsed Jackson's campaign. He did however receive an endorsement from the mayor of Burlington, Vermont, a man named Bernie Sanders. Jackson also noted that he attended a campaign-related “business meeting” in New York at a time when “many others thought it was laughable or something to avoid.” One exception to this group was a New York real estate mogul named Donald Trump.