Who Will it Be? Remembering When Kerry Picked Edwards as a Running Mate


WHO WILL IT BE? Today’s New York Times is claiming the Romney vice presidential choice may be announced this week. Reporter Jeff Zeleny says, “Romney has reached a decision, his friends believe, and he may disclose it as soon as this week.”
Zeleny believes former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) is the frontrunner with Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) as the backup.
Jim Geraghty of National Review says the best way to get a scoop on Romney’s decision is to watch his campaign plane.
Geraghty remind us that John Kerry’s 2004 selection of then Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) was broken by the U.S. Aviation Network website. Their members made the announcement after witnessing the repainting of the Kerry aircraft.

What Was The Worst Political Joke in U.S. History?

There are many candidates for this distinction, but the consequences were certainly devastating for Gov. John Gilligan (D-OH) in 1974. He is shown in 2009 with his daughter, Obama’s HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. She is a former Kansas Governor and they are the only father-daughter governors in U.S. history.
The 1974 election occurred in the wake of the Watergate scandal, which had forced President Richard Nixon’s resignation. The scandal allowed the Democrats to take 49 seats from the GOP in the U.S. House, and increased their majority above the two-thirds mark. One of the few bright spots for Republicans was Gilligan’s defeat for re-election.
Gilligan was an advocate of the first state income tax, and it was passed during his tenure. It was the major issue in the campaign, and Gilligan made it worse when he visited the state fair. He was asked if he was planning to attend the sheep shearing contest, and responded “I don’t shear sheep, I shear taxpayers.”
The comment was repeated endlessly and Gilligan lost by fewer than 1500 votes. Jack Germond of the Washington Star believes the joke may have also cost him the presidency.
He wrote: “Even before the returns were in from the 1974 elections, I had 1976 all figured out. After Watergate, Americans would be sick of anything connected to Washington, so the Democrats would nominate a governor.
“I even knew which one, John Gilligan. . . . My scenario fell apart, however, when Gilligan lost his campaign. . . Gilligan’s quick mouth didn’t help matters.”

QUESTION: The World War II Codename for this Island was Bobcat. What is its Real Name?

QUESTION: The World War II codename for this island was Bobcat, and Americans are still very popular here. It was an important U.S. airfield, supply, refueling and ship repair base, as well as an oil depot during the war.
There were only 1,500 residents in 1942, and the American military soon quadrupled the population.
From an economic standpoint, the war was a huge bonanza for Bobcat. American Seabees built the 19 mile road around the island, the airport, schools, water treatment facilities, piers, warehouses, a medical clinic and they installed generators. The U.S. built the first airfield in this island chain, and the wharf which is used by cruise ships today was built by Americans in 1943.
The effort was worthwhile because Bobcat supplied the ships and planes that fought the Battle of the Coral Sea, which was the first action in which aircraft carriers engaged each other.
One of the over 20,000 war time visitors to Bobcat was James Michener, a Navy lieutenant, who in 1947 wrote the Pulitzer Prize winner “Tales of the South Pacific”. It was the basis for the Broadway and film musical South Pacific by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Michener described Bobcat as the most beautiful island in the world.
While the islanders had abundant fruit including huge papayas, avocados and cocoanuts, they lacked most modern conveniences. There were no hotels, piers, or tourists before the war, but today there are 18 resorts. (There were 19, but Club Med was destroyed in a hurricane). Practically all the residents are now employed in the tourist industry.
The tourists started arriving in 1961 when the first hotel opened, and despite all the visitors, no one has ever successfully climbed the island’s volcanic peak.
Do you know the real name of this island?

ANSWER: The real name of Bobcat is Bora Bora in French Polynesia of the southern Pacific Ocean. Tahiti is the most widely recognizable name among these islands, which are a semi-autonomous part of France.
Among the 118 Polynesian islands, Bora Bora was the one selected for a major military base. This was primarily because of its enormous interior lagoon which could only be entered through a single passage way that could be easily controlled.
This was a major advantage in stopping the threat of submarines. Bora Bora housed nearly 7,000 men during the war.
Eight massive naval cannons were set up at strategic points around the island, but they were never used in combat. The American presence was uncontested, and the cannons are today a tourist attraction.
The reason no one has ever managed to climb Mount Otemanu successfully is because the volcanic rock crumbles too easily, and will not bear a climber’s weight.
Practically every visitor to Bora Bora says the same thing, the fresh fruit is better than any they have ever had before.

Question: How Did Ed Muskie Lose in New Hampshire in 1972?

ANSWER: Senator Ed Muskie (ME) actually won the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary by 10%, but the news media interpreted it as a significant loss because he ran behind the expectations his own campaign had set.
Muskie had been the 1968 Democratic Vice Presidential nominee and would go on to serve as Secretary of State in the Carter Administration. The Senator received excellent reviews after his 1970 nationally televised address which was the Democratic Party’s official response before the midterm elections.
Senate Majority Whip Ted Kennedy (D-MA) could have easily won the 1972 nomination if it had not been for the 1969 Chappaquiddick incident, and he was not a candidate.
During his 22 years in the Senate, Muskie was always a liberal, but he was not the leftwing choice that year. Muskie was the frontrunner among the party establishment and moderates. The liberal choice in 1972 was Sen. George McGovern (D-SD), and his slogan was “Right From The Start.” Similar to Barack Obama and the Iraq War in 2008, it meant McGovern was an early opponent of the Vietnam War.
Muskie was widely expected to be the nominee throughout 1971, but the first major warning was the Iowa precinct caucuses. Muskie won but McGovern did far better than expected. Muskie received 36% to McGovern’s 23%.
The mainstream media said McGovern had momentum but they expected New Hampshire to be landslide victory for Muskie. Many comparisons were made to the huge win of Sen. John F. Kennedy in the 1960 New Hampshire primary.
Both Kennedy and Muskie were Catholics from adjoining states and were well known in New Hampshire. The state Democratic Party was led by Sen. Thomas McIntyre (D-NH) and they were in full support of Muskie.
McGovern devoted 24 days to the state, while Muskie spent 13. The Maine Senator was significantly criticized by the conservative Manchester Union Leader, but that was to be expected. The Senator made a significant mistake when he decided to hold a rally in front of the Union Leader on a Saturday morning two weeks before the primary.
Speaking of the publisher, he said: “This man doesn’t walk, he crawls. . . By attacking me, by attacking my wife, he has proved himself to be a gutless coward.” Muskie himself later called it “a watershed incident.”
David Broder of The Washington Post wrote: “With tears streaming down his face and his voice choked with emotion, Muskie stood in the snow outside the Manchester Union Leader this morning and accused its publisher of making vicious attacks on him and his wife, Jane…
“In defending his wife, Muskie broke down three times in as many minutes — uttering a few words and then standing silent in the near blizzard, rubbing at his face, his shoulders heaving, while he attempted to regain his composure sufficiently to speak.”
Muskie won the primary by a 46% to 37% margin, but he failed to achieve the 50% goal his campaign had set or the 60% the news media had expected.
Coming in fourth in the Florida primary in March sealed Muskie’s fate, and he withdrew the following month. McGovern would go on to take the Democratic nomination, only to lose in a landslide to Richard Nixon that November.

QUESTION: Which President had a fear of Friday the 13th?

ANSWER: Today is Friday the 13th. We are not superstitious but there was at least one President who tried to avoid this day. Franklin Roosevelt did not like the number 13 in general. He once counted 13 people at a dinner table, and insisted on finding someone else to join the group.
He thought 13 would bring bad luck. In the 1944 campaign he could not avoid traveling on Friday the 13th. His solution was to have his train leave at 12:50 pm on the 12th.
PHOTO: President Roosevelt is shown accepting the 1944 Democratic presidential nomination. He spoke from his private railroad car, the Ferdinand Magellan, in San Diego. The balding naval officer at left is Dr. Howard Bruenn, the cardiologist who saw FDR almost every day during the final year.
The President did not complain about the daily examinations but never asked one question about his health. FDR died on April 12, 1945.

QUESTION: Where was this man riding 236 years ago? Why was it important?


ANSWER: Despite ill health, Caesar Rodney rode 80 miles from Dover to Philadelphia on July 1st and 2nd, 1776. He had received an urgent summons and his vote was necessary to break the deadlock. He rode through thunder and rain and arrived at Independence Hall just in time to cast the deciding vote in the Delaware delegation for independence.
The image of Rodney on horseback riding for Philadelphia appears on the Delaware quarter, issued in 1999.
He told the delegates “As I believe the voice of my constituents and of all sensible and honest men is in favor of Independence, my own judgement concurs with them. I vote for Independence.”
Rodney’s vote was not initially popular and he was defeated for re-election to the Continental Congress. Public opinion soon shifted and they sent him back.
Rodney was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, served in the Revolutionary Army as a brigadier general, and was elected President of Delaware and served from 1778 to 1782.
This stature is in Rodney Square, Wilmington, Delaware.

QUESTION: Was a presidential election ever decided by one electoral vote?

Rutherford B. Hayes


ANSWER: It has happened three times. The first was the 1800 election, which revealed a serious flaw in the US Constitution. Thomas Jefferson and his running mate Aaron Burr each received 73 electoral votes.
The original wording of the Constitution didn’t distinguish between electoral votes for president and vice president, so the decision had to be made in the House of Representatives where each state had one vote.
The voting went on for several days, and in the first 35 ballots, Jefferson had the support of 8 states while Burr had 6. 9 states were needed to win and Jefferson obtained that on the 36th ballot. He would be the next president and Aaron Burr was declared vice president.
The dispute led to ratification of the 12th Amendment, which changed the way the electoral college functioned. The only time the amendment was used was 1824.
That year Andrew Jackson received a plurality, but not a majority, of electoral votes cast. Jackson received 99 electoral votes, John Quincy Adams 84, William H. Crawford 41 and Henry Clay 37.
All the candidates were members of the same party and each had fallen short of the 131 votes necessary to win. The election was again thrown to the House.
According to the 12th Amendment, the House had to choose the president out of the top 3 candidates. This meant Clay was eliminated and he endorsed Adams.
Crawford’s poor health following a stroke made his election unlikely. Because Adams later named Clay his Secretary of State, Jackson’s supporters claimed there was a “corrupt bargain.”
It came down to the vote of single representative from upstate New York, Stephen van Rensselaer III, the founder of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Once again, each state was given one-vote, and Adams had the support of twelve states, one short of what was needed.
When Congressman van Rensselaer entered the Chamber that day, he was ushered into the office of Speaker Henry Clay, who along with Daniel Webster tried to persuade him to vote for Adams. They were unsuccessful, but the combination of the best persuaders in American history may have had an effect.
Before voting, van Rensselaer bowed his head in prayer. When he opened his eyes the first thing he saw on the floor was a slip of paper with Adams’ name on it. Accepting it is a sign from God, he put the slip into the ballot box. Adams carried New York by one vote, and it was the final state needed for his election.
The election of 1876 saw the highest voter turnout in U.S. history, a whopping 82 percent. The nation was enduring a severe depression. Because of the economy, Democrats won a 74 seat majority in the House during the 1874 off year election, but the GOP would reduced that to just 9 seats two years later.
Gov. Samuel Tilden (D-NY) won the popular vote, and Gov. Rutherford B. Hayes (R-OH) initially conceded.
Then the electoral votes in three states were disputed. A single electoral vote decided the outcome in Hayes’ favor. A Democratic-controlled Congress had admitted Colorado in time to participate in the presidential election, when without its votes, Tilden would have won.
The story is told in “By One Vote: The Disputed Presidential Election of 1876” by Michael Holt

QUESTION: What was Tammany Hall?

Tammany Hall on the corner of 17th Street and Park Avenue South in Manhattan is now the Union Square Theatre.


ANSWER: It is back in the news today because of the death of Edward Costikyan, 87, its last real chairman. Tammany Hall was formed when the Constitution was adopted in 1789, and through patronage and corruption, this political machine was a major force in New York state politics.
Its best known leader was Boss Tweed in the Gilded Age. For 80 years it picked Democratic nominees and controlled New York City from 1854 until Mayor Fiorello La Guardia was elected in 1933.
Its highpoint was when Gov. Alfred E. Smith (D-NY) won the 1928 Democratic presidential nomination.
Tammany Hall is best remembered for numerous graft and election fraud scandals. Manhattan District Attorney Thomas Dewey received prominent national attention by prosecuting key leaders of Tammany Hall.
Dewey won dozens of bribery convictions and was able to link Tammany Hall to powerful organized crime figures such as Lucky Luciano and Frank Costello. His track record as a corruption and crime fighter was a key reason the GOP nominated Dewey for president in 1944 and 1948.
Reform efforts finally forced Tammany Hall to collapse in the early 1960s.

The Great Historical Trivia Quiz


QUESTION: Why are two rifles mounted on the wall of the Massachusetts State Senate chamber? Where did the American Revolution begin?

ANSWER: The rifles belonged to Captain John Parker who commanded the 80 man militia during the Battle of Lexington on April 19, 1775. The night before, over 800 British soldiers were on their way to Concord to search for weapons.
Parker and his men were alerted by the midnight ride of Paul Revere. Around 1 am, Revere arrived at the house of Rev. Jonas Clarke in Lexington where John Hancock and Sam Adams were staying.
The British had arrest warrants for both of them. The redcoats had to pass through Lexington where Parker’s men were waiting at 5 am.
This statue honoring him is on the Lexington Green where he said, “Stand your ground. Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.”
We do not know how the battle began but it was the first shot that finally brought Crown and Colonies into open and continuous conflict. There would be no peace until America had won its independence. Parker survived that day but eight militia men were killed and ten wounded.
One of the dead was his cousin Jonas Parker who was killed by a British bayonet. Parker, 46, was the father of seven children and later participated in the Siege of Boston. He was too ill to join his men in the Battle of Bunker Hill, and on September 17th, 1775, just five months after the stand at Lexington, he died of tuberculosis.
Historians are divided and some say the Revolutionary War began on Lexington Green while others maintain it was Bunker Hill.

The Great Historical Trivia Quiz


QUESTION: What was the most popular program in television history? How did it impact America’s popular culture?

ANSWER: In the book “TV’s Greatest Hits”, Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh rank Gunsmoke as America’s most popular show “by a wide margin.” In terms of yearly ranking, Gunsmoke is still the most successful weekly prime time drama.
The series was set in Dodge City, Kansas, during the 1870s when it was a wild frontier town of the Old West. The radio version of Gunsmoke ran from 1952 to 1961, and the TV program began in September of 1955.
It would remain on network television for 20 years with 640 episodes. Law and Order also lasted for 20 years but it lagged with 456 episodes.
Gunsmoke was the first of an avalanche of television westerns. At the peak, there were 30 prime time westerns on the air. Gunsmoke was the most successful while Bonanza had the number two slot.
As far as advertisers were concerned, Gunsmoke had terrible demographics. Most viewers were older and outside the age limit normally targeted by advertisers. Gunsmoke’s audience, however, was so large that according to “TV’s Greatest Hits,” “who cared if they all wore dentures?”
The series was off the air for 20 years when the Christian Broadcast Network (CBN) brought it back. The TV code today is different from the 1960’s, and some of the violent scenes are now censored. In 1995, CBN aired some never-before-syndicated Gunsmoke episodes. Why had these episodes not been seen since their original network airings in 1962-65?
They were in black and white, and stations preferred hour long episodes in color.