One Bite

by Jay Nordlinger

At the Telegraph, Tim Stanley has written a mainly playful post titled “Mitt Romney was right about everything in 2012. So why not Romney 2016?” This gives me a chance to make a little historical point I have been wanting to make for a couple of months.

Time was, parties were willing to renominate a man who had lost. These days, you get one nomination — one bite at the apple.

William Jennings Bryan was the Democratic nominee three times. Can you imagine? Can you imagine letting a man lose not twice but thrice? Adlai Stevenson was the Democratic nominee twice—having the privilege of losing to Dwight Eisenhower both times.

Nixon was a special case — the real Comeback Kid, no matter what Bill Clinton may say. The incumbent vice-president, Nixon ran as the Republican nominee in 1960. Lost. Then ran for the California governorship. Lost. Then sat out the 1964 presidential election — and came back in 1968 and won, both the nomination and the presidency. As I said, a special case.

I wonder whether a party will ever renominate a losing nominee again. An exception, I think, might have been Gore — Gore in ’04 (hey, has a ring to it!). And you know why: because of the special circumstances of the 2000 election. His party thought he was robbed. There were bumper stickers that said “Reelect Gore.” So, in the Democratic mind, that might not have been the renomination of a loser. That might have been vindication, vengeance, honor, just deserts.

Anyway, those are my thoughts, not good enough for a freshman poli-sci paper, probably good enough for a blogpost.

P.S. Lou Cannon once told me something that Reagan said: “Don’t be a Stassen.” You don’t want to run for president repeatedly and futilely.

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