Theo Lippman Jr.

October 05, 1992|By Theo Lippman Jr.

This is the 52nd presidential election.

The 31st was held in 1908. President Theodore Roosevelt chose to treat his seven and half years in office (obtaining it when William McKinley was slain) as two terms and declined to run. He favored William Howard Taft, his secretary of war, who was easily nominated.

The Democrats, who had tried a conservative in 1904, after losing twice with William Jennings Bryan, went back to Bryan.

Both candidates claimed to be logical successors to TR: Taft as his hand-picked choice, Bryan as an advocate of liberal policies similar to TR's progressivism.

After a generally boring campaign, Taft won with a comfortable 52-43 percent margin. It was Bryan's worst showing (and at age 48 his last bid for the presidency). He carried only the still politically unreconstructed South and a very few border and Western states.

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