Friday, February 8, 2008

Presidential first: Two Senators will face-off

MITT ROMNEY’S DEPARTURE FROM THE PRESIDENTIAL race presents an interesting historical first. Sen. John McCain will now become the Republican presidential nominee and will face either Sen. Hillary Clinton or Sen. Barack Obama in the general election.

This will be a historical first; two sitting senators will face each other in the presidential race.

My political science students are always surprised to learn that presidents don’t usually come from the senate. Governors and military men have been elected more often. In fact, only two sitting senators have been elected president: Warren G. Harding in 1920 and John F. Kennedy in 1960.* Harding’s opponent was Ohio Gov. James Cox (Franklin D. Roosevelt was his vice presidential running mate) and Kennedy’s opponent was Vice President Richard Nixon.

Immediately before they became president: William McKinley was governor of Ohio; Theodore Roosevelt was vice president; William Howard Taft was in the cabinet; Woodrow Wilson was governor of New Jersey; Harding was senator from Ohio; Calvin Coolidge was vice president; Herbert Hoover was in the cabinet; F. D. Roosevelt was governor of New York; Harry Truman was vice president; Dwight Eisenhower was former military; Kennedy was senator from Massachusetts; Lyndon Johnson was vice president; Nixon was a former vice president; Jimmy Carter was former governor of Georgia; Ronald Regan was former governor of California; the first Bush was vice president; Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas, and the second Bush was governor of Texas.

That lists goes back to the 1896 election. You can follow the line of presidents back to George Washington and you’ll see the same pattern. Just an interesting bit of trivia you can throw into you next bar-stool conversation.

*Ironically, neither lived out his first term; Harding died in San Francisco in August of 1923 and Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas in November of 1963.

1 comment:

  1. I never thought of that. Interesting. I'll check back.