Theo Lippman Jr.

November 03, 1992|By Theo Lippman Jr.

This is the 52nd presidential election.

Voters were given a choice between the last of eight straight presidents who had worn a military uniform in World War II (George Bush, the Republican nominee) and the first major-party choice born after the end of that war (Bill Clinton, the Democratic nominee).

A unique element of the election was the presence on all 50 states' ballots of a third candidate who had been drafted by volunteers and who spent almost as much of his own money as each of the major party nominees spent (Ross Perot).

The principal issue was a sour economy, but the subtext was generational change. President Bush emphasized his own heroic war service, and he attacked Governor Clinton's avoidance of the draft during the Vietnam War as indicative of a character flaw which Americans should fear in the White House.

In a presidential election in which there were voters not even year old when the Vietnam War ended, and in which perhaps half the votes might be cast by citizens who were born after World War II ended, the Democrat urged people to vote their hopes not their fears and the future rather than the past.

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