In the past fifty years, since the Kennedy-Nixon election of 1960, we have had a total of 12 losing Vice Presidential nominees of major parties, not including Vice President Walter Mondale under President Jimmy Carter in 1980, and Vice President Dan Quayle under President George H. W. Bush in 1992.
What ever became of these 12 losing Vice Presidential nominees?
Henry Cabot Lodge, who ran with Richard Nixon in 1960, went on to be Ambassador to South Vietnam for President Kennedy in 1963-1964, a sign of bipartisan cooperation, even though Lodge had lost his US Senate seat to President Kennedy in 1952. He then was a candidate for the Republican nomination for President in 1964, but did not get very far in the race. Lodge had had a distinguished career as Senator from Massachusetts from 1937-1953, played an influential role in drafting Dwight D. Eisenhower for President in 1952, and served as Ike’s United Nations Ambassador for eight years, before becoming Nixon’s running mate in 1960. Overall, a very distinguished career, to say the least!
William E. Miller, who ran with Barry Goldwater in 1964, served as a member of the US House of Representatives from upstate New York from 1951-1965, and was Republican National Chairman from 1961-1964. His public career ended with the Goldwater defeat, but his daughter, Stephanie Miller, is a comedian and radio talk show host, and also on Current TV five mornings a week. Interestingly, she is very liberal, while her father was a solid conservative.
Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine ran with Hubert H. Humphrey in 1968, after having served in the US Senate for ten years, and continued to serve in the Senate until 1980, when he agreed to be President Jimmy Carter’s Secretary of State for one year. He also sought the Presidency himself in 1972, was considered a front runner, but his candidacy floundered.
Senator Thomas Eagleton of Missouri was George McGovern’s first running mate in 1972, but was forced out over revelations that he had undergone shock treatments and taken psychiatric medication. Despite that, he served in the US Senate for 18 years from 1969-1987, and served with distinction, with whatever mental problems he had not interfering with his performance.
Sargent Shriver, the brother in law of President Kennedy, replaced Eagleton, and was well known as the head of the Peace Corps under Kennedy, and as head of the War on Poverty under President Lyndon B. Johnson. Then he served as Ambassador to France under Johnson and Richard Nixon, before running for Vice President. He also ran for President unsuccessfully in 1976, and became the head of the Special Olympics. His daughter, Maria Shriver, became an NBC reporter and the wife of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California. His decline due to Alzheimer’s Disease had an impact on publicity about that disease. He died a much beloved public servant.
Gerald Ford had Senator Bob Dole of Kansas as his running mate in 1976. Dole had been a member of the House of Representatives from 1961-1969, and served in the Senate from 1969 until his resignation in 1996, when he became the Republican nominee for President. He remains active today, and is highly honored for his public career, and his wife Elizabeth also served as a United States Senator from North Carolina. Additionally, Dole had served as Republican National Chairman from 1971-1973 under Richard Nixon. He also was, at different times, Senate Majority Leader and Senate Minority Leader.
Geraldine Ferraro was Walter Mondale’s running mate in 1984, becoming the first woman to run for Vice President. She had been a Congresswoman from Queens County, New York City from 1978-1984, and was later US Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights under President Bill Clinton from 1993-1996. She ran unsuccessfully for the US Senate in 1992 and 1998, and later was involved in the Hillary Clinton Presidential campaign of 2008.
Senator Lloyd Bentsen of Texas was the running mate of Michael Dukakis in1988. He served in the House of Representatives from 1949-1955, and as US Senator from 1971-1993, winning his seat the first time over future President George H. W. Bush, He was also Senate Finance Committee Chairman, and Treasury Secretary under BIll Clinton in 1993–1994.
New York Congressman Jack Kemp, a former football player for the San Diego Chargers and the Buffalo Bills of the American Football League, served in the House of Representatives from upstate Buffalo, New York, from 1971-1989. He ran for President unsuccessfully in 1988, before agreeing to be Bob Dole’s running mate in 1996. He also served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under the first President Bush from 1989-1993. He was a major supporter of economic conservatism, and a follower of President Ronald Reagan. He continued to advocate his views after losing the Vice Presidency.
Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman was Al Gore’s running mate in 2000, and was the first Jewish nominee for Vice President. He had served in the Senate since first being elected in 1988, and will retire from the Senate in 2012, after four complete terms, as a controversial independent Democrat, progressive on social issues, but hard line conservative on foreign policy. He was called conservative intellectual William F. Buckley, Jr’s “favorite Democrat”.
In 2004, North Carolina Senator John Edwards was John Kerry’s Vice Presidential running mate. He served in the Senate for one term from 1999-2005, and sought the Presidency in 2008, and when his campaign failed, he was revealed to have a consensual affair with a woman while his wife was sick with cancer, and the liaison produced a daughter, and now has led to a trial that might lead to his imprisonment on charges of illegal use of campaign funds to cover the affair and the needs of the child and mother. This is truly a sad situation, still to be played out.
And finally, who could forget Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who came out of obscurity as the second woman to run for Vice President, with John McCain in 2008. She became a lightning rod, and many blamed the debacle of the McCain campaign on her, and her obvious ignorance of the issues and the facts of American politics and history. She has remained a controversial figure, who has made millions writing some books and giving speeches,and is seen by many as a major factor in the conservative wing of the Republican Party. Her future is still ahead of her, and we will not be able to ignore her, as she will be part of political news for a long time.
So who stood out among these losing VP candidates?
Clearly, Lodge, Muskie, Eagleton, Shriver, Dole, Bentsen, Kemp, and Lieberman had a positive effect on American history.
The same cannot be said for Miller, Ferraro, Edwards, and Palin.
However, all of them contributed to our history, and should be remembered!