Democrats free to define Romney’s politics

S.F. Examiner File PhotoTune in this week for Melissa Griffin's coverage of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte

S.F. Examiner File PhotoTune in this week for Melissa Griffin's coverage of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte

Since 1851, the holder of the America’s Cup trophy has lost only four times. The structure of the race requires challengers to compete against each other to determine who will go head to head with the champion. While teams exhaust themselves vying for a chance to race the incumbent, the team with the trophy need only worry about the final race.

The ability to focus on the ultimate goal is key to presidential politics, too. Since World War II, the only sitting presidents who have lost re-election bids have first had to overcome challenges within their own party.

#link_box { width: 150px; height: auto; margin: 0; padding: 0; margin: 10px 20px 10px 0px; padding: 10px; background-color: #fbfade; /* ecru – light yellow */ border: 1px solid #343a25; /* green – for summer arts */ float: left; font-family: arial, sans serif; font-size: 11px; } #link_box img, #link_box a { border 0px; border-style: none; outline: none; } #link_box h1 { margin: 0; padding: 5px; border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd; text-transform: uppercase; color: #000; font-family: arial, sans serif; font-weight: bold; font-size: 12px; text-align: center; } #link_box ul { list-style: none; margin: 0; padding: 0; border: none; } #link_box li { margin: 0px padding: 0px; border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd; border-bottom-width: 1px; } #link_box li a { display: block; padding: 5px 5px 5px 15px; /* Padding for bullet */ /* border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd; border-bottom-width: 1px; */ color: #000; width: 100%; width: auto; /* height: auto; */ /* border: 1px solid blue; */ margin: 0px; font-family: arial, sans serif; font-size: 11px; line-height: 14px; text-decoration: none; } #link_box li a: before { /* background-position: top left; */ } #link_box li a:hover { background-color: #ddd; color: #000; }

After Republican President Richard Nixon’s resignation, Vice President Gerald Ford served out the remaining three years of Nixon’s term and ran for election in 1976. At that year’s GOP convention, Ford barely bested Ronald Reagan before going on to lose to Democrat Jimmy Carter.

After Carter’s first term, he was up for re-election in 1980, but Sen. Edward Kennedy refused to drop out of the race for the Democratic Party nomination, forcing Carter into one of the nastiest convention fights in recent history. Carter won the nomination, but lost the election to Reagan.

While he ultimately didn’t get many delegate votes, Pat Buchanan’s challenge to George H.W. Bush in 1992 forced the party to incorporate more socially conservative planks into its platform and earned Buchanan the position of keynote speaker at the convention, where he delivered his cringe-worthy and divisive “culture war” speech.

While a challenge by a member of one’s own party is a prerequisite to an incumbent’s defeat, the opposite also is true: sitting presidents with no intraparty opposition have, since at least WWII, always won re-election (Eisenhower in 1956, Nixon in 1972, Reagan in 1984, Bill Clinton in 1996 and George W. Bush in 2004).

And now we have President Barack Obama up for re-election with no Democratic opposition. He is facing Mitt Romney, who had to endure a bruising primary and couldn’t get all four wheels on the ground until after fellow Republican candidate Rick Santorum “suspended” his campaign on April 10. In the meantime, Obama’s team had continued its ground game and quickly took advantage of the fact that Romney looks like “the guy who laid you off,” as Mike Huckabee put it.

At the Republican National Convention last week, the party worked overtime to make him likable, though whether they succeeded remains to be seen. But the fact that they had to chase the “human” factor at the expense of any policy substance whatsoever gives the Democrats an opening to define Romney’s policies, too. And, if history is any guide, sail right in to re-election.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This column was corrected on September 4, 2012

Correction

The September 4 column “History gives incumbent Obama lead” incorrectly stated that Dwight Eisenhower defeated Harry Truman in the 1948 presidential election. In fact, Truman defeated Thomas E. Dewey in that election, and Eisenhower defeated Adlai Stevenson four years later.

Barack ObamaHarry TrumannewsUS

Just Posted

On Sunday, California bore the brunt of what meteorologists referred to as a bomb cyclone and an atmospheric river, a convergence of storms that brought more than half a foot of rain to parts of the Bay Area, along with high winds, concerns about flash floods and the potential for heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada. Much of the Bay Area was under a flash flood watch on Sunday, with the National Weather Service warning of the potential for mudslides across the region. (NOAA via The New York Times)
Bomb cyclone, atmospheric river combine to pummel California with rain and wind

What you need to know about this historic weather event

National Weather Service flood watch in the San Francisco Bay Area for Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021. (National Weather Service via Bay City News)
Storm pounds Bay Area, leaving over 145,000 without power: Closures and updates

Torrential rainfall causes flooding, triggers evacuations in burn areas

Plan Bay Area 2050 is an expansive plan guiding the region’s growth and development over the next three decades. The regional plan addresses progressive policy priorities like a universal basic income and a region-wide rent cap, alongside massive new spending on affordable housing and transportation infrastructure. (Shutterstock)
Plan Bay Area 2050: Analyzing an extensive regional plan that covers the next 30 years

Here are the big ticket proposals in the $1.4 trillion proposal

A collaborative workspace for a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) in Coordinape is pictured at a recent blockchain meet up at Atlas Cafe. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
Business without bosses: San Francisco innovators battle bureaucracy with blockchain

‘The next generation will work for three DAOs at the same time’

Most Read