While the Republican nomination may seem like it’s dragging on this is nothing like past nominating campaigns. In fact, before the modern day election (anything involving radio, TV or long distance campaigning) they didn’t even nominate a candidate until the summer of the election year! Imagine that.
The book I’m currently reading, 1948, tells the story of the presidential election of 1948. As a pre-text, it also describes the story of the nomination process of the challenging Republicans along with the plight of Harry Truman just to stay atop the ticket.
That particular election was extremely important as it was the first election after the conclusion of World War II and the first in which Franklin D. Roosevelt wasn’t nominated (although I’d be willing to bet if he’d live he would have). It was also the first election in which the Cold War was an issue and how to deal with Communism, Russia, and all they encompassed. Every elections has its issues but this was the first where the US was the sole leader of the free world and isolationism was no longer an option. In every election since one could argue that foreign policy plays just as important a role as domestic.
In reading about the Republican nominating process it reminded me of the current campaign and the struggle of one man to fend off his challengers and critics. Thomas Dewey and Mitt Romney share a lot of similarities as the Republican front runner for their respective elections. Both had struck out in the previous election to be the nominee but quickly set their sights on the next. Both are viewed as ‘typical’ politicians who lack personality and charisma while carrying the resume of someone who appears made for the Presidency. Both had fought off similar flavors of the week while trying to maintain front runner status.
- Dewey had to content with a conservative, lifelong politician who led his respective wing of Congress in Robert Taft. Mitt also had to contend with a conservative, lifelong politician who led his respective wing of Congress in Newt Gingrich.
- Dewey also contended with a perennial candidate who doubled as an outsider and, unexpectedly, had more support than he should have in Governor Harold Stassen. Likewise, Mitt has had to battle a perennial candidate who doubles as an outsider and, unexpectedly, has more support than he probably should have in Ron Paul.
The list goes on but, in the end, Dewey outlasted them all as I suspect Romney will. Both played the delegate game as each primary and caucus took place, insuring they were well ahead in pledged delegates going into the convention. And while public perception was against Dewey and Romney, they were both firmly in the drivers seat all along.