On Winning Elections

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Coolidge biographer Claude M. Fuess recounts this amusing and illustrative anecdote from Cal’s White House days, looking back on his thorough experience in campaigning for office. Fuess writes:

“[A] group of apprehensive Republican leaders went to the White House to seek his counsel on how to win certain impending state elections. ‘Funny’ said the President after listening in unflustered silence to the unfolding of difficulties, ‘what a lot of trouble you fellows have getting elected. [Slight pause.] I don’t.’

“James W. Wadsworth, Jr., then United States Senator from New York and facing a hard contest for reelection, sought explicit advice, saying, ‘Just what would you do, Mr. President?’

‘When you going home?’

‘Very soon.’

‘Then,’ said Mr. Coolidge, ‘hitch up a buggy and drive around the state.’ ”

Sometimes what is most needed is to get out there, put in the hours, and travel your state, not merely to talk but to listen.

Another Coolidge insight, something especially useful as we watch while candidates begin to quit the Presidential race, comes from his experiences early in politics, “People will judge of me by the men who are willing to be known as my supporters.” Whoever you support for President in 2016, that will remain true. We not only reflect the values of the one we endorse but the candidate is known by the kind of people he or she attracts.

Read more Coolidge insights to examine all our candidates in the coming year by picking up a copy of Keeping Cool on the Campaign Trail: 101 of “Silent” Cal’s Insights on Voting, Campaigning, and Governing.

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