Secrets of Past Elections Revealed! (1996)

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After every presidential election since 1984, Newsweek has printed the best gossipy stories, revealing all the whining and backbiting of America's greatest spectacle. Linda Rodriguez has gone through Newsweek's archives to pick out some memorable moments from recent elections, and we'll be posting her stories throughout the week.

This election saw President Bill Clinton "“ on the heels of several big time scandals, including that whole Gennifer Flowers thing "“ soundly trounce former Senator Bob Dole, even after the senator resigned his position to demonstrate his commitment to the campaign. Texas businessman Ross Perot, who once described himself as "an albino monkey," ran again, this time with more sideshow antics than when he tried in 1992. In the end, Clinton became a second-termer "“ and went on to some even bigger scandals!

Unpredictable, that's Bob Dole

From the outset of his campaign, Bob Dole staffers routinely complained that they didn't know what Dole was going to say at a given speech until he said it, even after he had been carefully groomed, rehearsed, and coached. Dole seemed to take a petulant delight in off-the-cuff remarks "“ like accusing President Clinton of cheating at golf "“ or even flubbing his lines. Dole also liked to prepare for speeches while tanning on hotel roofs and eating chocolate ice cream.

The age factor

One of the biggest perceived differences between Bob Dole and President Bill Clinton was their respective ages. Clinton represented a younger generation, someone who could appeal to the recently named "soccer moms," while Bob Dole was from an era before America had even heard of soccer. When the press asked the two candidates what had been their respective favorite TV shows growing up, Clinton named Bonanza. Dole said TV hadn't been invented yet.

Down and on his way out

Bob Dole's campaign was broke "“ so broke that by the spring of 1996, the campaign was holding rallies in outdoor spaces in order to avoid renting a hall. That wasn't the worst of his troubles "“ after he resigned the senate in a bid to focus on his floundering campaign and to divorce himself from his Washington insider image, reporters started calling his campaign plane, "Citizen's Ship," the "Sinking Ship." Incidentally, the press plane had its own great name "“ the "Bullship."

Slogans are always better when they rhyme

One bumper sticker slogan batted around the Dole camp was luckily shot down: "Our goal, your soul, Bob Dole." Catchy.

Oops

By the time election night rolled around, Bob Dole had largely accepted defeat. Still, he wanted to make sure that California's votes were in and counted before he officially conceded the election. Even that was bungled, however, after a campaign staffer accidentally released Dole's concession statement, which was promptly picked up by all the major networks and reported. The campaign issued a retraction, though it might not have mattered at that point.

The dance of winners!

There was much celebrating in the Clinton camp the night before the election, after Clinton ended his final campaign speech of his elected career. Flying Air Force One back to Little Rock, Clinton entertained the troops by dancing the Macarena.

Previously: 1988, 1984, 1992

January 8, 2009 - 8:00am
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