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Tuesday, November 02, 2010


by Gary Lehmann

In 1896, running for President of the United States was simple for Republican William McKinley.  All he had to do was sit on his front porch in Canton , Ohio and answer reporters’ questions as diplomatically as possible.  The idea was not to offend anyone.

He was the clear front-runner and had few opponents.  Grover Cleveland, the Democrat who held the presidency before him, had ushered in a period of economic depression.  The nation was tired of Democratic Depression.  Time for a change.

McKinley carefully engineered his campaign so that he didn’t need to take a stand on any of the burning issues of his day.   Why should he speak up on the currency question and take the chance of offending people who were already set to vote for him?

McKinley’s campaign was over-funded and lacked any real opposition.  Like James Garfield and William Henry Harrison before him, McKinley sat on his front porch and said, if the press wants to talk with me, they know where I live.  Stop by and have a chat.

While McKinley’s opponent, William Jennings Bryan gave over 600 speeches and traveled the country over by train, McKinley ran a winning campaign by doing nothing.  He sat back in his rocking chair, smoked a few cigars, and talked nice to people.

McKinley’s campaign organizer, Mark Hanna, spent millions of dollars putting up posters all over America.  A vote for McKinley is a vote for Republican Prosperity.  Who’s going to vote against that? This running for President is a breeze.

Twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Gary Lehmann’s essays, poetry and short stories are widely published. Books include The Span I Will Cross [Process Press, 2004], Public Lives and Private Secrets [Foothills Publishing, 2005], and American Sponsored Torture [FootHills Publishing, 2007].