Just the Facts

Five Facts on Bipartisan Presidential Tickets Throughout History

By No Labels
September 10, 2018 | Blog

Throughout history the United States has been deeply polarized over issues ranging from military conflicts, to race relations, to financial policies.  At several of these junctures, the possibility of a bipartisan presidential ticket has often been proposed, and in some cases followed through on, in an effort to unite different ideologies and bring the country back together.  Here are five facts on bipartisan presidential tickets throughout history:

The first bipartisan presidential administration in American history occurred in 1797

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the country’s second president and vice president respectively, also shared the distinction of being the country’s first bipartisan presidential administration.  At the time, the Constitution stipulated that “The person having the greatest number of votes shall be the president…In every case, after the choice of the President, the Person having the greatest number of votes…shall be the Vice President.” This meant that the president and vice president were often adversaries in the general election, making it likely that they were to come from different parties. Adams, a Federalist, and Jefferson, a Democratic-Republican, worked in tandem for four years before Jefferson defeated his boss in the election of 1800, sending Adams back to his home in Massachusetts and Jefferson to the White House. 

In 1864 Republican President Abraham Lincoln chose Democratic Sen. Andrew Johnson as his running mate in an attempt to unite the country in the midst of the Civil War

The United States has never been more divided than it was during the Civil War. Disputes over states rights and slavery caused 11 states to secede from the Union, bringing about a deadly war that pitted fellow countrymen against each other.  In an attempt to unite the country, President Abraham Lincoln, a Republican from Illinois, a state that had remained in the Union, chose Andrew Johnson, a Democrat from Tennessee, which had seceded in 1861, as his running mate for the election of 1864. In choosing Johnson, Lincoln was both able to broaden his base of support in the Union, where he was facing a challenge from his former Gen. George McClellan, and was able to show the South that he was still willing to work with people who opposed many of his views.

In his recently released memoir, Every Day is Extra, John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee and former secretary of State, revealed that he was seriously considering picking John McCain as his running mate

The talks came as the U.S. was in the midst of a heated debate over the Iraq war that revealed deep divides within the country. In his memoir, Kerry states, “At the highest level of my campaign we had been approached by one of the people closest to John McCain. He suggested that John might be open to joining me. It was at least interesting—super-complicated, but interesting.” Both men had formed a bond while working closely together on issues relating to the Vietnam war, a conflict in which they had both served, but had very different views on, as Kerry had become a prominent critic of the war while McCain generally supported it.  However, the talks eventually feel apart and Kerry ended up choosing John Edwards, a Democratic senator from North Carolina.

In the 2008 presidential election John McCain wanted to name his close friend Joe Lieberman, a Democrat turned Independent, as his running mate

This past weekend former Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) described conversations about a bipartisan presidential ticket between he and his good friend, the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), while at McCain’s memorial service.  Lieberman described McCain’s support for the idea, stating McCain had pitched it by saying, “You’re a Democrat, I’m a Republican; we could give our country the bipartisanship leadership it needs for a change.” However, despite McCain’s wishes, once the idea was leaked, he faced serious blowback from his fellow Republicans, just as Lieberman received intense criticism from Democrats.  As a result, McCain picked former governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, a change of heart that both men agree was a mistake. In a recent interview Sen. Lieberman stated “Who knows whether we would have won? I think we would have done better than the McCain-Palin ticket did.”

Over the past few months several prominent politicians have been mentioned as part of a potential bipartisan ticket

A recent column suggested a bipartisan ticket in 2020 featuring former Vice President Joe Biden and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Both Biden and Kasich are leaders who have gained reputations for working across the aisle throughout their decades of public service.  However, this is not the first time that Gov. Kasich has been mentioned as part of a bipartisan presidential ticket.  He has also been connected with Colorado’s Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, with whom he has worked closely on issues such as health care.  The two have developed a strong relationship that garnered heightened attention after Kasich tweeted, “I see my friend @HickForCO is headed to Iowa. They say no one goes there by accident… .”

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