John B. Anderson

John B. Anderson was elected nine times to the U.S. Congress before he ran for the Republican nomination for President in 1980. In one of the most embarrassing photo-ops in recent political memory (man, it was a pretty stiff competition too*), Anderson posed besides Lincoln for photographer Barry McKinley.

McKinley and Anderson chose the location because both Anderson and Lincoln came from the same town in Illinois.  People jokingly asked, “Why vote for a man who proves he can’t measure up to Lincoln?” His predictable loss was sad because Anderson was one of a handful of politicians who maintained their integrity throughout their public service. During the Republican decade, candidates were asked if there were any actions in their past that they had come to regret. Most of them, including Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush dodged the question, but Anderson took it head-on, repenting his vote for the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. His popularity increased dramatically overnight.

A Rockefeller Republican, Anderson ran as an independent when Ronald Reagan won the Republican nomination. He started out very strong for an independent with over 25%, with endorsements from both sides of the aisle. However the above photo and his reactionary 50 cent per gallon gasoline tax sank his campaign. That November, he received 6 million votes (7%) but failed to carry a single precinct.

(*My favorites include: Gov. Dewey’s maniacal grin with people dressed as cavemen, Dukakis in tank, Bush v. Scanner, Kerry at NASA, Palin at Turkey farm).

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