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Bill Clinton presidential campaign, 1992


Bill Clinton presidential campaign, 1992

Bill Clinton presidential campaign, 1992
Campaign U.S. presidential election, 1992
Candidate Bill Clinton
Governor of Arkansas 1979–1981, 1983–1992
Al Gore
United States Senator from Tennessee 1985-1993
Affiliation Democratic Party
Status Won election, November 3, 1992
Slogan For people for change, Putting People First, It's the economy stupid.

George H. W. Bush, who had been viewed as politically invincible just a year earlier.


  • Candidate background 1
  • Timeline 2
    • Primaries 2.1
    • Arsenio Hall Show appearance 2.2
    • Running mate selection 2.3
    • The Convention 2.4
    • Election Night 1992 2.5
  • Campaign strategy 3
    • The Southern lock 3.1
    • President Bush's approval ratings 3.2
    • Reasons for victory 3.3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Candidate background

Clinton was the governor of a traditionally conservative Southern state, Vice-President, seemed all but inevitable as the president, many turned to Clinton as the next Southern leader of the party. Bill Clinton was seen as a potential candidate as he was a popular Democratic Governor in a state that had voted for Republicans in four of the last five presidential elections.



The candidates in 1992 were considered one of the weakest starting grids the Democrats had ever chosen. Most of this was due to President George H.W. Bush's sky-high approval ratings in the wake of Operation Desert Storm. The press anointed front-runners for 1992 included Bill Bradley, then a New Jersey Senator, Jesse Jackson, who finished second in 1988, Dick Gephardt, Al Gore, and Jay Rockefeller, a Senator from West Virginia. But each bowed out early. Neither Bradley nor Rockefeller considered themselves ready to run, Gephardt seemed to accept Bush's re-election as a sure thing, and Gore had opted to spend more time with his family in the wake of a tragic accident that threatened the life of his young son. The most notable front-runner Mario Cuomo, decided not to run on December 20, 1991, the final day to apply to run in the New Hampshire primary.

When the early straw polls were finished, Bill Clinton was the candidate on the rise. The other primary contenders were Douglas Wilder, Bob Kerrey, Tom Harkin, Paul Tsongas, and Jerry Brown. Clinton's victory in the Florida straw poll over Harkin made him the early front-runner in the post-Cuomo vacuum.

In the recent past, the George H. W. Bush a scare on the Republican side, with second place medals on top of a victory stand while Bush and Tsongas stood with gold medals off to the side pouting.

There was actually a third accusation of Clinton smoking marijuana while in college in England. His, now famous, response was "I only tried it once and never actually inhaled."

Jerry Brown upset Tsongas in the Maryland primary. Brown later upset Clinton in the Connecticut primary, but Clinton's road was relatively easy after the March 3, 1992 win in Georgia.

Arsenio Hall Show appearance

Clinton was a guest on Bush in the polls.[4]

Running mate selection

In June and July 1992, speculation grew about who Clinton was going to pick as his running mate. Possible candidates included Kerrey, Indiana congressman Lee Hamilton, Missouri congressman Richard Gephardt, Tennessee Senator Al Gore, New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley, Florida Senator Bob Graham and Pennsylvania Senator Harris Wofford. On July 10, 1992, Clinton selected Gore as his running mate in the State Mansion at Little Rock.

The Convention

During the '92 Democratic Convention, the convention hall was plagued by the fact that independent candidate Ross Perot was tied with or beating Clinton in opinion research polls. This caused a moderate turn of events at the convention to win back Perot Voters from the Perot Campaign. This led to the selection of such speakers such as Representative Barbara Jordan from Texas to deliver a bipartisan keynote address to the convention delegates. Also speaking was the Vice-Presidential nominee Al Gore who appealed to the center as he was, at the time, a Southern Moderate Democrat from Tennessee.

However, on the last day the convention convened on July 16, 1992, Ross Perot dropped out of the presidential race and left a gap for both Bush and Clinton to scramble for newly undecided voters. This greatly led to the advantage of Bill Clinton who gave his nomination acceptance speech that night.

Election Night 1992

Throughout election night, Clinton over performed in rural areas of the country such as in the mountain west, winning Iowa (57 Electoral Votes).

In addition, in a number of crucial states, independent Ross Perot, running as a Fiscal Conservative, targeted many of the same voters as Presidential Spoiler by detracting votes from Bush/Quayle allowing Clinton/Gore victories in Conservative strongholds such as Kentucky and Montana. Also, Bush/Quayle underperformed in states such as Vice-Presidential Nominee Dan Quayle's home state of Indiana (12 Electoral Votes) allowing Clinton/Gore to come within striking distance on election night.

Campaign strategy

The Southern lock

A source of frustration for Democrats through the years was the increasing Republican lock on the electoral votes of the Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, and, to a lesser extent, Hubert Humphrey. Additionally, Gore's prior military record removed a lot of the criticism Clinton had received earlier.

Besides Gore, several names were rumored to be in contention for the second spot, including Florida Senator and former Governor of Florida Bob Graham, Indiana Congressman Lee H. Hamilton, Nebraska Senator and former Governor Bob Kerrey, Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, and newly elected Pennsylvania Senator Harris Wofford.

President Bush's approval ratings

For most of 1991, the incumbent president, Persian Gulf War. His approval rating was above 90 percent at one point that year because his war had helped erase the Vietnam Syndrome America had felt since the 1960s, and into the post-Vietnam War 1980s when many Vietnam veterans were just starting to get recognition. But because of a growing public perception of an economic downturn, Bush's popularity began falling throughout late 1991, and by January 1992, his approvals fell below 50%. Bush's approvals would stay low for the rest of the campaign season.[7]

Reasons for victory

Presidential candidate Bill Clinton in front of Rackham School at the University of Michigan on October 19, 1992, flanked by Michigan Senator Carl Levin, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Chelsea Clinton and Michigan Senator Donald W. Riegle, Jr.

Clinton's charisma combined with an impressive campaign staff to achieve victory. Organizational theorists have proposed that his campaign structure adopted an effective blend of informality with clear goal definition, which allowed for structured creativity. The exploitation of key strategic blunders by the Bush campaign, including violating a no new tax promise, also allowed for impressive gains.


  1. ^ "Declaration of Gennifer Flowers".  
  2. ^ Stout, David (March 21, 1998). "TESTING OF A PRESIDENT: THE OTHER WOMAN; Flowers Acknowledges Earning $500,000 From Scandal". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  3. ^ "Gov. Bill Clinton plays saxophone on "The Arsenio Hall Show" June 3, 1992". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2011-07-31. 
  4. ^ a b c
  5. ^ Shapiro, Walter (June 15, 1992). "Clinton Plays It Cool". Time. Retrieved 2011-07-31. 
  6. ^ "Bill Clinton".  
  7. ^

External links

  • Bill Clinton announcement speech
  • Bill Clinton acceptance speech
  • , January 17, 1993.Clinton: Portrait of Victory interview with P.F. Bentley on Booknotes
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