The Ross Perot bid for the presidency has inspired...

Salmagundi

June 17, 1992

The Ross Perot bid for the presidency has inspired comparisons with Teddy Roosevelt's Bull Moose third party effort to regain the White House in 1912. Here is a passage from Francis Russell's 1976 book, "The President Makers," that describes the insurgent Bull Moose convention:

"[It] had the atmosphere of a camp meeting. Roosevelt, the Progressive leader, the Bull Moose, seemed to have embodied in his person the reform impulses of a century, from Transcendentalism and Abolitionism to Populism and Women's Suffrage.

"The Bull Moosers were for the most part from the earnest and neglected middle class, professional plain-livers and high-thinkers, professors, social workers, dissenting small businessmen, farmers, women like Jane Addams (who would second Roosevelt's nomination), clergymen and, of course, what Roosevelt himself had labeled the 'lunatic fringe.'

"An air of earnest Protestantism hung over the proceedings, which opened with the Lord's Prayer. . .

Unaware of any incongruity, Oscar Straus, the Jewish philanthropist, marshaled his New York delegation down the aisle bellowing that most belligerent of Protestant hymns, 'Onward Christian Soldiers,' a tune that would become the Bull Moose national anthem.

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