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Twenty Five Years of GOP Presidential Nominatio n s examines the presidential nominees of the Republican Party.




The Republican Party has now nominated, including their most recent candidate Mitt Romney in 2012, twenty-eight men to represent their party’s national views. Of these twenty-eight men, eighteen were elected to serve and represent our country. Two of these men were elected, but with controversy and cynicism following them to the White House—Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876 and George W. Bush in 2000. The unique nature of these men can be matched to their counterparts in the opposite party, the Democratic nominees—thirty-three men in all. However, in the past twenty-five years, the Republican Party has followed a path of presidential nominations that has contradicted the rhetoric and voting behavior of a conservative House and Senate. The Reagan era ended in 1989 presumably to continue with the election of his vice president George H. W. Bush. However, the conservative hopes for four more years were dashed by the moderation and compromise witnessed in the Bush presidency.
Jeffrey J. Volle

Chapter One. 1988–89—The End of the Yellow Brick Road

The finality of the Reagan presidency at noon on January 20, 1989, marked the end of the wonderful trip the Republican Party had taken with their conservative icon Ronald Reagan. The end of the yellow brick road landed the Republican Party at the end of an enchanted time in a land ruled by the great wizard himself President Reagan. Reagan’s presidency did not destroy liberalism as did Dorothy and the wicked witch with a bucket of water. However, liberalism was in hibernation and the election of 1988 was their chance to strike back at the political party that had dealt them a losing hand for almost eight years. The stage was set for a new chapter in the Republican Party. A leadership void now needed to be filled. But let’s first take a walk back through the Reagan presidency and consider not only its highs and lows but also its political ramifications, which spilled forth.
Jeffrey J. Volle

Chapter Two. 1989–93—Read My Hips!

“I, George Herbert Walker Bush do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” On January 20, 1989, at noon, Vice President George H. W. Bush became the forty-first president of the United States. On January 20, 1989, the moderation of future presidential nominees had taken hold.
Jeffrey J. Volle

Chapter Three. 1993–96—The War Hero

The bravery of Robert Joseph Dole has been well-documented throughout his life. A bravery found in thousands of men who fought during World War II. As a second lieutenant in the infantry US Army’s 10th Mountain Division, Dole had been wounded in Italy weeks before the fighting would end in Europe. In his autobiography, Dole describes his injury: “I didn’t know it at the time, but whatever it was that hit me had ripped apart my shoulder, breaking my collarbone and my right arm, smashing down into my vertebrae, and damaging my spinal cord.”1
Jeffrey J. Volle

Chapter Four. 2000–08—Choosing Normalcy

Perhaps no presidency has produced as much debate in the past forty years as that of Barack Obama. However, the rise of Barack Obama was directly related to his predecessor George W. Bush, whose detractors from the political left were just as intense as the political right’s dislike of Obama. The story of the Republican Party’s moderation in their nominees over the past twenty-five years tried to take a right turn off the middle of the road. As the Clinton/Gore administration came to an end in 2000, the Republican Party looked to another Bush to answer the party’s call. The answer from the primary and caucus voters was Governor George W. Bush of Texas.
Jeffrey J. Volle

Chapter Five. 2008—The Maverick Is Tamed

The end of the Bush presidency was near as the economy tanked and Wall Street scandals dominated the political landscape in 2008. An unpopular President George W. Bush was about to leave a country, ready to head in another direction. The irony in the president’s dismal poll ratings was that he became a liability to the Republican nominee Senator John McCain, his chief rival for the 2000 Republican nomination. McCain was no strong supporter of the president—only when it came to the president’s handling of the Iraq war and the infamous “surge.” McCain had to put on a facade like a painted veil during the 2008 campaign for a president whose campaign team had only eight years previously destroyed his presidential ambitions with a vicious smear campaign in the South Carolina primary. Perhaps in the end John McCain felt that bad karma had done its justice on the Bush presidency.
Jeffrey J. Volle

Chapter Six. 2012—Moderation Becomes One Man’s Vice

If ever a Republican candidate felt victory was in the palm of their hand, Willard Mitt Romney surely was that candidate. President Barack Obama was vulnerable as an incumbent could be in early 2012. The economy was on the road to recovery, but for some this road was a dead end. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare for some) had been passed in 2010 by a Democratic majority, but repeal of this act was the glue for Republican bonding. The Republican primary voters had an important decision to make in 2012 as the course of the nation could take a fast right off the road of Obama with the ideal candidate. Unfortunately, the Republican nominee was not to the right in ideology, but a moderate with conservative phrases only.
Jeffrey J. Volle

Chapter Seven. 2014—The New Triumvirate

President Obama had dealt the right wing of the Republican Party a stinging defeat in 2012. The victory that the Republican Party establishment had seemed to have worked so hard for during the four years of the Obama presidency was gone. What had happened? The public relations of the right had certainly put out the message concerning President Obama: this president was a deeply flawed individual whose economic policies were expanding the welfare rolls, whose identity as a legitimate citizen was suspect, and who was a sympathizer to all that were not American Christians. If this is not a correct assessment of their game plan then the Republican Party needs to decide who will be their spokesperson. Who will be the one voice that the “Establishment” Republicans, moderate Republicans, and the Tea Party enthusiast can rally around?
Jeffrey J. Volle


Going into the 2016 presidential election, the split in the Republican Party is growing. There is an ideological fissure of serious magnitude, and further the demographics do not support the Republican Party. Whoever secures the Republican nomination in 2016 will have to thread the needle like no other Republican candidate since Richard Nixon in 1968. If the past twenty-five years are any preview, the Republican primary voters will need to be decisive as to what path their party will take. Time is not on their side. The conservative takeover of the Republican Party by Barry Goldwater and his followers in 1964 did not see immediate results. Until the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, the moderates still maintained strong power within the party. Since the Reagan presidency, the conservative right has not had that true candidate to revere.
Jeffrey J. Volle


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