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Gary Hart

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Gary Hart

Gary Warren Hart (born Gary Hartpence on November 28, 1936) is a politician and lawyer from the state of Colorado. He formerly served as a Senator representing Colorado, and ran in the U.S. presidential elections in 1984 and again in 1988, when he was considered a frontrunner for the Democratic nomination until withdrawing from the race because of a scandal. Since retiring from the Senate, he has emerged as a consultant on national security, and continues to speak on issues such as homeland security.

Contents

Biography

Hart was born in Ottawa, Kansas. He changed his last name to "Hart" in 1961. He grew up in and attended the public schools of Ottawa. He also attended Bethany (Okla.) Nazarene College, graduating in 1958. He graduated from Yale Divinity School in 1961 and Yale University Law School in 1964.

He became an attorney for the United States Department of Justice from 1964 to 1965, and was admitted to the Colorado and District of Columbia bars in 1965.

He was special assistant to the solicitor of the United States Department of the Interior from 1965 to 1967. He then engaged in private law practice in Denver, Colorado on and off over the next seven years, while managing U.S. Senator George McGovern's presidential campaign in 1972. He ran for and was elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate in 1974 and was reelected to a second term in 1980 before he began his own presidential runs.

George McGovern's 1972 presidential campaign

Hart occasionally calls himself the inventor of the Iowa caucuses, and there is actually some truth to his claims. At the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, U.S. Senator George McGovern of South Dakota chaired a committee that revised the Democratic presidential nomination structure, moving power away from party bosses in the proverbial "smoke-filled room" in favor of Democratic primary voters and caucusgoers. For the next presidential election, in 1972, McGovern decided to run himself, using his advanced knowledge of the new primary structure to his advantage. Indeed, McGovern started his campaign at the bottom of the polls behind more prominent frontrunners like Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine. McGovern named Hart his campaign manager, and together they decided on a strategy to focus on the newly important Iowa caucuses, predicting that a strong showing in Iowa would give the campaign momentum that would propel them to the nomination. Indeed, Hart's strategy worked - setting a trend of focusing on the Iowa caucuses that has continued to this day - and the McGovern campaign took advantage of the Iowa results (and Muskie's perceived meltdown) to win the nomination.

Unfortunately, Hart could not steer McGovern to the presidency. Due to a series of campaign missteps, McGovern's perceived liberalism, and the Nixon campaign's illegal break-in at the Watergate Hotel, McGovern only carried Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.

1984 presidential campaign

In the summer of 1983, during his second term, Hart announced his candidacy for president in the 1984 presidential election. At the time of his announcement, Hart was a little-known Senator and barely received above 1% in the polls against better-known candidates such as Walter Mondale and John Glenn. To counter this situation, Hart started campaigning early in New Hampshire, making a then-unprecedented canvassing tour in late September, months before the primary. This strategy attracted national media attention to his campaign, and by late 1983, he had risen moderately in the polls to the middle of the field, mostly at the expense of the sinking candidacies of John Glenn and Alan Cranston. Mondale won the Iowa caucus in late January, but Hart polled a respectable 16%. Two weeks later, in the New Hampshire primary, he shocked much of the party establishment and the media by defeating Mondale by ten percentage points. Hart instantly became the main challenger to Mondale for the nomination, and appeared to have the momentum on his side.

The two men swapped victories in the primaries, with Hart getting exposure as a candidate with "new ideas" and Mondale rallying the party establishment to his side. The two men fought to a draw in the Super Tuesday primaries, with Hart winning states in the West, Florida, and New England. Mondale fought back and began ridiculing what he perceived to be the emptiness of Hart's campaign. In the most famous moment of the campaign, he ridiculed Hart's "new ideas" by stealing a line from a popular Wendy's television commercial at the time: "Where's the beef?". Mondale's remark is credited with slowing the momentum of Hart's campaign, leading to Mondale's victory in the delegate-rich states of New York and Pennsylvania. Hart recovered slightly and later won primaries in Ohio and California, but Mondale had already amassed enough delegates to seal the nomination. Mondale later was trounced in the election against Ronald Reagan, winning only his home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia.

1988 presidential campaign and the Donna Rice affair

Hart declined to run for a third term in the Senate, leaving office in early 1987 with the intent of running for president again. In early 1987, he was the clear frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in the U.S. presidential election, 1988.It seemed that only Democratic party efforts to recruit New York Governor Mario Cuomo could thwart his nomination. Hart had put in a strong showing in the 1984 presidential election, and had refined his campaign in the intervening years.

Hart officially declared his candidacy on April 17. Rumors began circulating nearly immediately that Hart was having an extramarital affair. In an interview that appeared in the New York Times in late April, Hart responded to the rumors by daring the press corps: ""Follow me around. I don't care. I'm serious. If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead. They'll be very bored." [1] (http://www.tvrundown.com/polhart1.htm). After an anonymous tip, two reporters from the Miami Herald took up Hart's challenge and observed an attractive young woman coming out of Hart's Washington, DC townhouse on the morning of May 2[[2] (http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/4069344.htm?1c)]. The Herald published the story on Sunday, May 3, and the scandal spread rapidly through the national media. Hart and his allies attacked the Herald for rushing the story into print, claiming that it had unfairly judged the situation without finding out the true facts. Hart claimed that the reporters had not watched both entrances to his home and could not have seen when the young woman entered and left the building. Hart was dogged with questions regarding his views on marital infidelity. In public, his wife Lee supported him, claiming the relationship with Rice was innocent. A poll of voters in New Hampshire for the New Hampshire Primary showed that Hart's support had dropped in half, from 32% to 17%, placing him suddenly ten points behind Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis.

On May 5, the Herald received a further tip that Hart had spent a night in Bimini on a sailboat called the Monkey Business with a woman who was not his wife. The Herald obtained photographs [3] (http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/4069344.htm?1c). of Hart aboard the Monkey Business with then-29-year-old model Donna Rice, sitting in over-50 year-old Hart's lap. The photographs were subsequently published in the National Enquirer. On May 8, 1987, a week after the Donna Rice story broke, Hart dropped out of the race. At a press conference, he lashed out at the media, saying ""I said that I bend, but I don't break, and believe me, I'm not broken." [4] (http://www.tvrundown.com/polhart2.htm). A Gallup Poll found that nearly two-thirds (64%) of the U.S. respondents it surveyed thought the media treatment of Hart was "unfair." A little over half (53%) responded that marital infidelity had little to do with a president's ability to govern.

In December of 1987, Hart returned to the race. He competed in the New Hampshire primary and received 4,888 votes, approximately 4%. He stayed in the race through mid-spring, making his best showing in Puerto Rico, where he received approximately 7.5% of the primary vote.

Later career

After withdrawing from the race, Hart resumed the practice of law. He remained moderately active in politics, serving on the bipartisan Hart-Rudman Commission, commissioned on behalf of Bill Clinton in 1998 to study U.S. homeland security. The commission issued several findings calling for broad changes to security policy, but many were not heeded until the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack made the vulnerabilities in U.S. defenses obvious.

He earned a D.Phil. degree at Oxford University in 2001.

Hart was considering a run in the 2004 presidential election, but decided against seeking the nomination in May 2003.

On his own website he has modestly described himself, without a trace of irony, in these terms: "Gary Hart - statesman, scholar, attorney, writer - is a Renaissance man of new ideas". Since May 2005 he's been a contributing blogger at The Huffington Post.

Hart is a resident of Kittredge, Colorado.

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