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Draft (politics)

In elections in the United States, political drafts are used to encourage or pressure a certain person to enter a political race, by demonstrating a significant groundswell of support for the candidate. A write-in campaign may also be considered a draft campaign.


  • Political history of draft movements 1
    • The movement to draft Dwight D. Eisenhower 1.1
    • The movement to draft Barry Goldwater 1.2
  • Recent political draft movements 2
  • References 3

Political history of draft movements

The movement to draft Dwight D. Eisenhower

Movements to draft five-star general Dwight D. Eisenhower to run as a candidate for President of the United States appeared in both the Democratic and Republican parties in 1948 and again during 1951. Eisenhower did his best to ignore them, but Henry Cabot Lodge entered Eisenhower in the 1952 New Hampshire Republican primary without the general's authorization. Eisenhower won all the Republican delegates and defeated Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio, who had campaigned intensively in the state, by a vote of 50% to 38%. Eisenhower told a reporter, "Any American who would have that many other Americans pay him that compliment would be proud or he would not be an American", and announced his candidacy the next day. He defeated Adlai Stevenson — himself drafted as the Democratic nominee — in November 1952.

The movement to draft Barry Goldwater

Also, in the early 1960s two volunteers started a movement to draft Barry Goldwater, an unlikely and unwilling candidate back then. Goldwater initially gave such remarks as "I'm not a candidate. And I'm not going to be. I have no intention of running for the Presidency", and "'Draft' nothing. I told you I'm not going to run." However, the effort eventually convinced Goldwater and won him the Republican nomination in 1964 in the face of the self-financed campaign of Nelson Rockefeller, the ridicule of the national press, and the refusal by Goldwater to run.

Recent political draft movements

The candidacy of General Wesley Clark resulted from a draft. Clark, who had recently retired from the military and taken a job as a CNN military analyst, had no intention of running until multiple "Draft Clark" sites appeared on the web urging Clark to run. Over about a two-month period the draft became a nationwide effort due to TV coverage and the use of the internet. In September 2003, Clark said he would make up his mind on whether to accept the draft or not in the near future. Soon after that statement, Clark announced his candidacy in his hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas, citing that he was pulled in by the people to run for the presidency.[1]

There was a draft campaign for former Vice President Al Gore prior to the 2008 election. Al Gore, who had won the Nobel Prize while out of office, repeatedly ruled out running for president in the 2008 election. Gore eventually endorsed Senator Barack Obama after he became the presumptive nominee.

Also worthy of notation are the unsuccessful draft campaigns of Gary Hart (former Colorado Senator) and Steve Jobs (Founder & CEO of Apple Computer), and in 1995 there was a notable attempt to draft retired four-star general (and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) Colin Powell for the Republican presidential nomination in 1996.

Prior to the 2008 election, a group of citizens tried to draft Washington Times and the Boston Herald reported on a campaign to draft Joe Wurzelbacher to run against Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio's 9th congressional district.[1][2] The draft campaign began with the website, joewurzelbacher2010, created by Trevor Lair, presently the chairman of the Massachusetts College Republicans.[3][4] Since the draft campaign began, Wurzelbacher has stated that he is interested in running in the 2010 election for Ohio’s 9th congressional district.[5][6] Laura Ingraham asked Wurzelbacher, on October 24, 2008, if he would run against Rep. Marcy Kaptur. Wurzelbacher responded that he had considered the run and would be “up for it.”[7] [8][9]

From 2013 to 2014, polls were conducted by media sources such as The Washington Post which suggested that if the 2012 US Presidential election were held then, incumbent Barack Obama would lose in a landslide to challenger Mitt Romney.[10] Later on, from the middle of 2014 to 2015, polls that included the former nominee showed an overwhelming double digit lead over even Jeb Bush,[11] who was and is still considered to be a front runner of the party. This data combined helped to spark a movement to draft Mitt Romney into the race, the most notable example was found in the Draft Mitt Campaign. Initially Romney always denied any possibility of a third run, however he did end up flirting with the idea. In the end, in late January 2015, Romney confirmed that he would not be making another campaign for the Presidency,[12] stating "I've decided it is best to give other leaders in the Party the opportunity to become our next nominee". However, even now there are still movements that are actively trying to convince Romney to change his mind, such as the Draft Romney Campaign.

In 2015, the Democracy for America said they would support efforts to draft Elizabeth Warren into the 2016 US Presidential race.[13] The two groups created and run the website, Run Warren Run website.[13] Some Republicans see her as potentially weakening Hillary Clinton's campaign. Some Democratic hope that the threat will push Clinton towards more populist stances on issues. Libertarians share Warren's disdain for the bank bailout, but for different reason.[13] In Iowa, where she is largely unknown, an October 2014 poll showed that 44% of likely Democratic caucus goers have a favorable opinion of her, though more feel favorably about Clinton. Warren denies interest in running.[13]


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