Friday, October 28, 2016

Presidential Elections - Part 5

George Bush was a very popular president for the first part of his term. The successful Gulf War (with Iraq) helped significantly with that. However, a promise he had made during the 1988 campaign came back to bite him. He had made the statement (in response to a question about raising taxes), “Read my lips, no new taxes!”. The economy took a downturn in the later part of his term. He approved a tax increase in support of trying to control the budget deficit.

When the Presidential Conventions started, his only opposition for the Republican nomination was Pat Buchanan. He brought up Bush’s breaking of his campaign promise. Bush still easily won the Republican nomination. The Democratic Party had a difficult time getting a nominee. Many felt the President was too popular to lose. Finally, a relatively unknown man who was the governor of Arkansas emerged as the nominee. His name was Bill Clinton. Clinton hammered Bush on his broken promise about taxes trying to show he was not a man of his word.

Another key element of the 1992 election was the emergence of a third party candidate. Billionaire businessman Ross Perot threw his hat in the ring. At one point, he was actually ahead in the polls. Then for some reason he pulled out of the race only to get back in about a month before the election. This hurt him and he was well behind Bush and Clinton entering the election.

I remember watching the results as they came in. When I saw Clinton carry Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio, I knew he’d win and I didn’t have to watch any more. I was proven right as Bill Clinton won relatively easily. Perot ended up getting almost 18% of the vote but no electoral votes. It was a surprise to me that Bush lost but his broken promise plus Clinton touting himself as a “Washington outsider” turned the race in his favor. I am convinced also that Perot took votes from Bush (which some argue with me) that helped Clinton.

Clinton took office with accusations of affairs with several women. Republicans took control of the both the House and Senate in the midterm elections of 1994 (for the first time in sixty years). This raised some concern that Clinton could not be re-elected. However, the economy began to recover toward the end of his term. Republicans tried to court former US Army General Colin Powell as their nominee. He said that he would not accept the nomination. Several Republicans vied for the nomination which finally fell to the 1976 failed VP candidate – Bob Dole. Clinton defeated Dole easily to be re-elected. Despite other women steppping forward with accusations against him (including intern Monica Lewinsky) and him being the only the 2nd President of the US to be impeached (but acquitted by the Senate), he remained (and remains) popular. However, he couldn’t run for a third term, so there would be a new president in 2000.

The 2000 Presidential Election would prove to be the most interesting and controversial of my lifetime. I would end up getting tired of hearing of “chads”. I’ll discuss that in my next post.