You, too, could be a loser someday

By A. James Memmott

October 16, 2007 at 7:09am

The script has changed.

Pointing to Al Gore, parents throughout the country may be telling their children that if they study hard, lead good lives and not become president they could be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Gore is the co-winner of this year’s Peace Prize for sounding the alarm on global warming. He shares the prize with the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

While Gore may have fashioned a grand comeback, a look at the post-defeat careers of other recent unsuccessful presidential wannabes shows that there can be life, a good life at that, after losing. All have found things to do, sometimes lucrative things, and many have held elective office, most often in the U.S. Senate.

All have continued in public life and some have remained in politics, most especially in the U.S. Senate.

And if Gore should ever want to try again for the presidency, he can take hope from Richard Nixon, a true comeback artist.

Like Gore, Nixon served as vice president for eight years.

Like Gore, he lost a close race for the presidency.

And then, eight years later, Nixon was elected president.

But a look at the list of presidential losers from the major parties since 1960 shows that Gore has other options. Here’s those who didn’t make it and how they fared post-defeat:

2004: John Kerry, Democrat. After losing to George H.W. Bush, he has remained in the U.S. Senate. First elected to that body in 1984, he won a fourth term in 2002.

2000: Al Gore, Democrat. He won the popular vote, but lost the electoral vote to George W. Bush. Since losing, he has taught journalism in college, served on corporate boards (Apple) and starred in the award-winning documentary on climate change, An Inconvenient Truth.

1996: Bob Dole, Republican. He gave up his seat in the Senate to concentrate on the presidential race, which he lost to President Bill Clinton, a Democrat. After his defeat, Dole has practiced law and given speeches. He has been a spokesperson for several products, most notably Viagra.

1992: George H.W. Bush, Republican. Vice president under Ronald Reagan, he served one term as president and lost a re-election bid to Clinton. Since leaving the presidency, he has given speeches and written books. He and Clinton lead an effort to raise funds to help relief efforts after the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia.

1988: Michael Dukakis, Democrat. Governor of Massachusetts when he lost to Bush, he served the final two years of his third term as governor. Since then, he has taught, been on the board of Amtrak and written on health care policy.

1984: Walter Mondale, Democrat. A former senator from Minnesota and a former vice president, he lost to President Ronald Reagan.

Since losing, he has practiced law and taught. He was ambassador to Japan from 1993 to 1996. He has served on several corporate and not-for-profit boards. He unsuccessfully ran for the Senate in 2002, having replaced Sen. Paul Wellstone on the ballot in Minnesota after Wellstone died in a plane crash just 11 days before the election.

1980: Jimmy Carter, Democrat. After losing his bid for re-election, he has devoted himself to humanitarian and diplomatic efforts. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

1976: Gerald Ford, Republican. He served a little more than two years as president after Nixon’s resignation. After losing to Carter, he remained active in political affairs and national affairs. He died in December 2006.

1972: George McGovern, Democrat. After losing to Nixon, he remained in the Senate until January 1981. From 1998 to 2001, he served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Agency.

1968: Hubert H. Humphrey, Democrat. After losing to Nixon. He was elected to the Senate from Minnesota in 1970, returning to a body where he had once served. He was re-elected in 1976 and served until his death in January 1978.

1964: Barry Goldwater, Republican. He was finishing his second six-year term in the Senate in 1964 and did not seek re-election because he was running for president. Two years after his loss to President Lyndon Johnson, he ran for the Senate from Arizona again in 1968 and won the first of three more terms. He died in 1998.

1960: Richard Nixon, Republican. He lost to John F. Kennedy after serving eight years as vice president under Dwight Eisenhower.

He was elected president in 1968, re-elected in 1972 and resigned in 1974, in the wake of the Watergate controversy. He died in 1994.

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