Tag Archives: 1980 election

A serious political maverick has passed from the scene

John McCain likes wearing the “maverick” label.

In truth, U.S. Sen. McCain is a novice in the league of mavericks compared to one who has just died.

I refer to former U.S. Rep. John B. Anderson, the one-time Illinois arch-conservative Republican-turned civil rights activist. Anderson died Monday at the age of 95.

He is best known as an independent presidential candidate who, after losing the GOP nomination to Ronald Reagan, ran for president on his own. He didn’t win any electoral votes in 1980. He did, however, post the seventh-best independent candidate’s finish in the history of presidential elections.

I became smitten by the thought of this candidate actually winning the presidency. President Carter was under heavy criticism for (a) his handling of the Iranian hostage crisis and (b) the national economy. I couldn’t vote for Ronald Reagan. So I began to look at Anderson’s candidacy.

I knew about his beginning as a staunch conservative Republican congressman and his early opposition to the Civil Rights Act. I also witnessed his transformation from his former self to what he became.

He was a maverick’s maverick.

I was editor of the Oregon City (Ore.) Enterprise-Courier during the 1980 campaign. I consulted with the No. 2 man in the newsroom and we concluded that Anderson was the best of the three men running for president. With that, I drafted an editorial endorsement of Rep. Anderson. I turned it in to the publisher.

It took my boss no time at all to kick it back to me. “No can do,” he said. “We’re going with Reagan,” he informed me. So … we did.

But I gave it my best shot.

During that campaign, Anderson delivered a speech in which he said, in part: “The credit belongs to the man (who knows) the great enthusiasm, the great devotion and spends himself in a worthy cause, who if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place will never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

John Anderson the maverick was neither “cold” or “timid.” He delivered his policy statements in a booming voice.

And to this day, I still believe he was the best choice in 1980.

There can be drama associated with VP pick

reaganbush2

You may choose to believe this if you wish … or you can say I’m full of mule muffins.

I actually have a “favorite vice-presidential selection moment” that I’d like to share with you. I’ll be brief.

I was watching CBS News’s coverage of the 1980 Republican Convention. Ronald Reagan was about to become the GOP nominee for president. Rumors were flying all over the place about some negotiations that were occurring between the former California governor and the 38th president of the United States, Gerald R. Ford.

The gossip was that Gov. Reagan wanted President Ford to become a sort of “co-president” who would run on the GOP ticket as the VP nominee. Obviously, though, Reagan was going to give Ford a whole lot more responsibility than what normally goes to the vice president.

Well, the convention was buzzing with the talk. Will Reagan do it? Will the former president accept this challenge?

CBS put correspondent Leslie Stahl on camera while she was walking through the convention floor. She’s going on and on about prospect of Ford joining Reagan.

Then she stopped for about a second and blurted out, “It’s Bush!”

Yep, it turned out to be George H.W. Bush, one of Reagan’s former GOP primary foes, the author of the term “voodoo economics,” which he used to describe Reagan’s tax plan for the country.

It just goes to show you that foes can become “friends” when the most politically expedient moment presents itself.

Health always an issue for national candidates

Rich Lowry is a smart young man.

His essay, published on Politico.com, states clearly an obvious truth about the upcoming presidential campaign. It is that Hillary Clinton’s health will be an issue.

I get that. Indeed, Americans always should have assurances that the commander in chief will be in tip-top shape when he or she takes the reins of government.

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/05/rove-is-right-106694.html?hp=l3#.U3QprFJOWt8

Lowry, smart conservative that he is, defends fellow Republican Karl Rove’s assertion that Clinton might have serious “brain injury” stemming from a fall she suffered in 2012. That’s where I part company with Lowry.

To his fundamental point about the health of candidates, let’s flash back a few election cycles.

Wasn’t Ronald Reagan’s health an issue when he ran for election the first time in 1980? He was nearly 70. When he ran for re-election in 1984, he stumbled badly in his first debate with Democratic nominee Walter Mondale, fueling open discussion that he had “lost it.” President Reagan quelled that talk immediately at the next debate when he said he “would not make my opponent’s age an issue by exploiting his youth and inexperience.”

Sen. John McCain faced similar questions about his health when he ran against Sen. Barack Obama in 2008. Let’s remember that there was some ghastly whispering going on about whether he suffered too much emotional trauma as a Vietnam War prisoner for more than five years. Plus, he had been treated for cancer. His health became an issue.

Hillary Clinton will be roughly the same age as Reagan and McCain when they ran for president. Let’s keep these health issues in their proper perspective. Igniting mean-spirited gossip about potential “brain injury” isn’t the way to examine an important issue.