It’s uncommon for an ex-president to campaign for another term, but when it happened a century ago, Columbus played a small role.
Context: Then-Vice President Teddy Roosevelt ascended to the presidency after Ohioan William McKinley was assassinated in 1901, serving two terms before being replaced by another Ohioan, William Howard Taft.
- In an age before presidential term limits, he later regretted leaving office, and newspapers speculated he might challenge Taft in the next election.
Flashback: Those rumors reached a fever pitch as thousands greeted Teddy’s arrival in Columbus on Feb. 21, 1912, for a speech at the Statehouse.
- Supporters hoped he would use the opportunity to announce his candidacy, but Teddy instead gave a more general speech advocating for progressive policies.
- Then he visited a friend’s Town Street home for lunch before heading back to New York.
What he said: The next day, a reporter asked how Ohio treated the former commander in chief.
- “Bully,” Roosevelt replied. “I had a first-class time.”
- “Your Columbus speech has aroused a good deal of comment,” the reporter continued.
- “Good, sound doctrine,” he coyly answered.
The intrigue: The visit was his last major public appearance before jumping in the presidential race five days later.
- Whereas former President Trump announced his 2024 candidacy in an hour-long address, Roosevelt issued only a six-word statement: “We’re in the fight. That’s all.”
- He wound up losing the election that year while running for the Progressive “Bull Moose” Party.
More Columbus stories
No stories could be found
Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Columbus.