Wednesday, August 28, 2019

President Dwight Eisenhower

Kevin and Pat Surbaugh at the
Eisenhower Center in Abilene, Kansas.
Photographer Unknown
Abilene, KS - With a population of 6,380 the city of Abilene is a small town in North Central Kansas.
There is no college in the town Yet it has a lot to offer.  Most notably it was the boyhood home of our 34th President Dwight D. "Ike" Eisenhower.  It is also the home of the Presidential Library and Museum of the only President to have grown up in Kansas.
The Eisenhower Center is the home of five buildings.
1) The Visitor Center, which houses the gift shop and is where you enter, to purchase your tickets (Currently tickets are $12 for the museum and $8 for the boyhood home).
2) The chapel, which houses the graves of the former President and the First Lady.
3) The Library, which like other Presidential Libraries is a full research library.
4) The boyhood home of the president.  It is the actual home and sits on the original site of the home.  The home where he, his other five brothers, one sister and parents all lived as he grew up.
5) The fifth building is home of the museum itself.
Photographer Kevin Surbaugh
When we arrived in Abilene, we were able to secure a coupon, allowing us into the Eisenhower Museum, for half price.  Well to be more precise, it was a buy one get one (BOGO) offer, but the effect is the same.  Ticket prices for the museum are $12 each and for the home, they are $8 each.  For both that is a total of $20.  We chose to see both and the coupon got us tickets for both the museum and the house for the price of just one of us.   The receipt served as our tickets for the museum, but the house had actual tickets for a specific time to go through the house with a tour guide.  The house was our first stop after leaving the visitor center.  The tour was interesting, even though it was my second time at the museum, it was my wife's first visit.  The tour guide was able to provide useful information, that even I hadn't learned or remembered about the only President from Kansas. The Eisenhower Family Home is the only historic home in the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) system. Most of the presidential homes and birthplaces are operated by the National Park Service or a state agency.

Photographer Kevin Surbaugh
After we left the Boyhood Home of the 34th President, we headed over to the museum. In the museum, we saw a lot of items from his days in the military.  The museum told his story from that of a child growing up in Kansas, after their move from Texas, through both World Wars, and into the Presidency.  I must say the museum was very fascinating.  The exhibits were well laid out.  For me, the presidential years were the most interesting, but my love for World War II history had me enthralled by those exhibits as well.  Like General Eisenhower's car in the photo on the right of this paragraph.

Finally, when we left the museum, we made a stop by the chapel to complete our trip.  Also known as the Place of Meditation, it is the final resting place of President Dwight David Eisenhower, his wife Mamie Doud and their fist born son Doud Dwight.  Doud who was three, when he died in 1921, was originally buried in Denver, thirty-two years before President Eisenhower took the oath of office for the Presidency.  In this memorial chapel, you can see the two graves and three markers for the presidential couple and their firstborn child.

Photographer Kevin Surbaugh
We did not visit the library portion of the complex. If we were on a research trip, we would have visited this portion of the center, where the papers of the thirty-fourth president of the United States are housed.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Challenges to Incumbent Presidents

This year former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld announced he was running for President in the Republican primary against President Donald Trump. He may not be alone. Former Ohio Governor John Kasich is reportedly considering running as well. The last time an incumbent President was challenged by someone from within his own party, was 1992.  That was when former Nixon and Reagan aide Pat Buchannan challenged President George H. W. Bush.
Since 1916, when the presidential primary system began there has only been a few times an incumbent has been challenged.  Historically speaking, no President has won re-election, even if he successfully fends off a challenger in the primary, he loses in the November general election. There has, however, been one time when this rule didn't hold true.  In 1940, incumbent Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt. was challenged by his vice-president.  Consequently, the vice-president was replaced at the convention.  Below we will look at each of those primaries.

The Challenges

Year President Challenger Challenger #2
2020 Donald Trump (R) Bill Weld (R) ---
1992 George H. W. Bush (R) Pat Buchannon (R) ----
1980 Jimmy Carter (D) Ted Kennedy (D) ----
1976 Gerald Ford (R) Ronald Reagan (R) ----
1968 Lyndon B Johnson (D) Eugene McCarthy (D) Robert Kennedy (D)
1952 Harry Truman (D) Estes Kefauver (D) ----
1940 Franklin Roosevelt (D) John Garner (D) ----

2020 - Taking on President Trump

The Republican primary has yet to begin, but already there has been a candidate declare himself as a candidate in the GOP primary. That challenger, former Massachusetts Governor Weld, which some are saying that Weld won't be a serious challenge.  The fact is they don't know, but they are saying this because of a claim that no serious primary challenge has been overcome by the incumbent.  In other words, they are saying that President Trump will easily win in the 2020 General election.  While I have my own personal view regarding the election, I am staying neutral, in my writing.  In short, I am taking a wait and see attitude.  Though, I do think it will be a fascinating election to watch. Will the Republicans retain the White House, or will the Democrats regain control?  Who will the president be, come 2021?

1992 - Wins all 50 States in Primary, but loses in November

George H. W. Bush, was the President this year. Considered by some as a third term, to former President Reagan's presidency. His challenger former Nixon aide Pat Buchannon. Buchannon never won a single primary but drew enough descent that the father of a future two-term President, lost his reelection bid to Bill Clinton.

1980 - the President, Falls to an Actor 

Jimmy Carter had been elected President four years earlier against the nations only unelected President. He was relatively unknown when he was elected. In 1980, however, he was unpopular and he was challenged by Ted Kennedy. Kennedy the brother of the late President John Kennedy and presidential candidate Robert Kennedy, ended up losing to Carter in the primary. However, Carter lost to former California Governor Ronald Reagan.

1976 - Future President Falls to the Incumbent

The 1976 Republican primary saw Ronald Reagan come very close to denying renomination to Gerald Ford.  President Ford had been appointed as vice-president after the resignation of Spiro Agnew, then ascended to the presidency when Richard Nixon resigned in 1974. Ford went on to lose narrowly to Jimmy Carter in the general election, and Reagan succeeded Carter four years later.

1968 - Incumbent Withdraws After Narrow Primary Win

This is one I debated with myself, whether to actually include. Even though it is included in my research on the topic, the President actually withdrew from campaigning and was replaced by his Vice-President.
That year, Minnesota senator Eugene McCarthy held Lyndon Johnson to a surprisingly narrow victory in New Hampshire; with polls showing McCarthy would likely defeat Johnson in the next major primary in Wisconsin, and with LBJ focused on the Vietnam War’s damage to his legacy, he folded his tent. With his withdrawal, and the assassination of Robert Kennedy his Vice-President Hubert Humphrey jumped in the race and won the Democratic nomination, but the Democrats lost the White House.

1952 - Incumbent Loses New Hampshire and Withdraws

In 1952, Harry Truman was running for reelection, Tennessee senator Estes Kefauver beat Truman in the New Hampshire primary which, lead to Truman deciding not to continue to seek a full term.

1940 - the President versus the Vice-President

The 1940 Democratic Presidential primaries saw incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt was selected, as the nominee through a series of primary elections and caucuses culminating in the 1940 Democratic National Convention held from July 15 to July 18, 1940, in Chicago, Illinois. He faced the opposition of Vice President John Garner in the primaries. Garner lost the primaries and during the convention was excluded from vice-presidential nomination in favor of Henry Wallace.

  1. Washington Post
  2. Business Insider
  3. CBS News
  4. NPR
  5. 1976 Republican Primary
  6. 1980 Democratic Primary
  7. 1982 Republican Primary
  8. NPR - The Unthinkable 
  9. 1940 Democratic Presidential Primary