Draft (politics)

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In elections in the United States, political drafts are used to encourage or pressure a certain person to enter a political race, by demonstrating a significant groundswell of support for the candidate. A write-in campaign may also be considered a draft campaign.

Political history of draft movements[edit]

The movement to draft Dwight D. Eisenhower[edit]

Main article: Draft Eisenhower

Movements to draft five-star general Dwight D. Eisenhower to run as a candidate for President of the United States appeared in both the Democratic and Republican parties in 1948 and again during 1951. Eisenhower did his best to ignore them, but Henry Cabot Lodge entered Eisenhower in the 1952 New Hampshire Republican primary without the general's authorization. Eisenhower won all the Republican delegates and defeated Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio, who had campaigned intensively in the state, by a vote of 50% to 38%. Eisenhower told a reporter, "Any American who would have that many other Americans pay him that compliment would be proud or he would not be an American", and announced his candidacy the next day. He defeated Adlai Stevenson — himself drafted as the Democratic nominee — in November 1952.

The movement to draft Barry Goldwater[edit]

Also, in the early 1960s two volunteers started a movement to draft Barry Goldwater, an unlikely and unwilling candidate back then. Goldwater initially gave such remarks as "I'm not a candidate. And I'm not going to be. I have no intention of running for the Presidency", and "'Draft' nothing. I told you I'm not going to run." However, the effort eventually convinced Goldwater and won him the Republican nomination in 1964 in the face of the self-financed campaign of Nelson Rockefeller, the ridicule of the national press, and the refusal by Goldwater to run.

Recent political draft movements[edit]

The candidacy of General Wesley Clark resulted from a draft. Clark, who had recently retired from the military and taken a job as a CNN military analyst, had no intention of running until multiple "Draft Clark" sites appeared on the web urging Clark to run. Over about a two-month period the draft became a nationwide effort due to TV coverage and the use of the internet. In September 2003, Clark said he would make up his mind on whether to accept the draft or not in the near future. Soon after that statement, Clark announced his candidacy in his hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas, citing that he was pulled in by the people to run for the presidency.[1]

There was a draft campaign for former Vice President Al Gore prior to the 2008 election. Al Gore, who had won the Nobel Prize while out of office, repeatedly ruled out running for president in the 2008 election. Gore eventually endorsed Senator Barack Obama after he became the presumptive nominee.

Also worthy of notation are the unsuccessful draft campaigns of Gary Hart (former Colorado Senator) and Steve Jobs (Founder & CEO of Apple Computer), and in 1995 there was a notable attempt to draft retired four-star general (and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) Colin Powell for the Republican presidential nomination in 1996.

Prior to the 2008 election, a group of citizens tried to draft Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for president. The group went so far as to buy television and radio time in Iowa, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Florida, and even roadside billboards. Though Rice had publicly declined to run, the groundswell of support for this cause continued to gain notoriety in national and international media. The most prominent "Draft Rice" group, called Americans for Rice, claimed more than 4000 active members in the U.S. and abroad, and showed up at major events, organizing local cell groups, and made the preparations to put Rice's name on the ballot in 2008. Another group, The United States Students Committee, or TUSSC, has set their ambitions on gaining support among college and high school students for the same cause.[2][3] Rice eventually did not run in 2008.

In the fall of 2008, the Washington Times and the Boston Herald reported on a campaign to draft Joe Wurzelbacher to run against Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio's 9th congressional district.[1][2] The draft campaign began with the website, joewurzelbacher2010, created by Trevor Lair, presently the chairman of the Massachusetts College Republicans.[3][4] Since the draft campaign began, Wurzelbacher has stated that he is interested in running in the 2010 election for Ohio’s 9th congressional district.[5][6] Laura Ingraham asked Wurzelbacher, on October 24, 2008, if he would run against Rep. Marcy Kaptur. Wurzelbacher responded that he had considered the run and would be “up for it.”[7] [8][9]


  1. ^ "GOP group says Joe the Plumber is the right guy to unclog Washington". Boston Herald. 2008-10-18. Retrieved 2008-10-23. 
  2. ^ "Joe the Plumber for Congress?". Washington Times. 2008-10-17. Retrieved 2008-10-23. 
  3. ^ "Campaign to ‘plunge the crap out of Washington’". CNN. 2008-10-17. Retrieved 2008-10-24. 
  4. ^ "Congressman Joe the Plumber?". MinnPost. 2008-10-17. Retrieved 2008-10-24. 
  5. ^ "Joe the Plumber open to 2010 run". CNN. 2008-10-24. Retrieved 2008-10-26. 
  6. ^ "'Joe the Plumber' talks about running for Congress". ABC News. 2008-10-24. Retrieved 2008-10-26. [dead link]
  7. ^ "Now, Joe the Plumber wants to be a Congressman!". Asian News International. 2008-10-25. Retrieved 2008-10-26. 
  8. ^ "'Joe the Plumber' Considers Run for Congress". Fox News. 2008-10-25. Retrieved 2008-10-27. [dead link]
  9. ^ Shipman, Tim (2008-10-27). "Joe the Plumber says he may run for Congress". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2008-10-27.