Bob Dole, senator from Kansas, the 1996 Republican presidential nominee, lost the election to President Bill Clinton. Twenty years earlier, Dole had been the vice-presidential candidate when President Gerald Ford lost to Jimmy Carter. These two losses make Dole the only major party candidate in U.S. history to have been nominated for both president and vice president without winning either office. Dole’s use of the sunflower, the Kansas state flower, was reminiscent of buttons from another Republican presidential campaign sixty years earlier. Alf Landon, governor of Kansas, lost that race too.
The election of 1912 was a four-way contest between incumbent president William Howard Taft (Republican), New Jersey governor Woodrow Wilson (Democrat), former president Theodore Roosevelt (Progressive), and labor activist Eugene V. Debs (Socialist). Several Taft items from this campaign promoted his re-election as the safe choice. Voters apparently disagreed as he finished behind both Wilson and Roosevelt, the only sitting president seeking re-election to finish third. Debs was a distant fourth.
In his acceptance address at the 1932 Democratic National Convention, Franklin D. Roosevelt pledged himself to “a new deal for the American people.” This promise to respond to the problems of the Great Depression catapulted FDR to victory over President Herbert Hoover, the Republican candidate. FDR’s domestic program, in place from 1933 to 1939, came to be known as the “New Deal.”
Alton Parker was the 1904 Democratic nominee for president. His running mate, 80-year-old Henry Davis, is the oldest person to have ever been nominated for president or vice president by a major party. Parker lost in a landslide to incumbent president Theodore Roosevelt (running mate Charles Fairbanks) but finished ahead of Eugene V. Debs (running mate Benjamin Hanford) who ran as a Socialist, the first time that party appeared on the national ballot.
Portrait buttons were popular during the campaigns of William McKinley in part because they required less explanation than some of the buttons and pins keyed to his economic policies. The last Civil War veteran to be elected president, McKinley was governor of Ohio when he ran his first national campaign. The Republican nominee in 1896 and again in 1900, McKinley defeated his Democratic challenger William Jennings Bryan both times.