Published: Good Men Project (January 13, 2015)
Matthew Rozsa looks for lessons in the lives and legacies of the presidential ‘Also Rans.’
I have looked by the way at what happens to anybody in this country who loses as the nominee of their party. They become a loser for life, alright?
—Mitt Romney, from the documentary, Mitt
There is something oddly poignant about the plight of America’s “Also Rans,” the 38 men throughout our history who were officially nominated as the presidential candidate of a major party only to lose in the general election. Of those 38, only nine were ever given a second chance by being renominated; and of those nine only four actually won in one of their subsequent attempts—Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, William H. Harrison, and Richard M. Nixon. As Irving Stone put it in his classic biographical collection, “They Also Ran”: