Why you should care
Because you can’t understand today’s candidates without listening to yesterday’s.
Learn more about the men and women who have run the ultimate political gauntlet in pursuit of the most powerful job on Earth by watching THE CONTENDERS: 16 FOR ’16, a new TV series from OZY airing every Tuesday at 8 p.m. EST this fall on PBS.
Their politics are wildly different, but Howard Dean and Pat Buchanan both ran for President hell bent on restoring the America they thought was lost. With heated rhetoric that gave the establishment a black eye but stirred and excited the fringes on the left and the right, these two were flamethrowers like no others.
In 2003, Dean, a five-term Vermont governor and trained physician, set out to challenge his party from the inside on issues such as the war in Iraq, becoming a political phenomenon and major force in Democratic politics as he pursued the presidency in the 2004 election. Dean, a fiscal conservative and social liberal who had signed the nation’s first civil unions law, energized his party’s base and millions of young Americans and his innovative campaign would break new ground with its online organizing and fundraising.
Before the fire from his more establishment rivals, and his own self-inflicted wounds, sank his candidacy, culminating in the famous “Dean Scream” following the Iowa caucuses, Dean’s insurgent run would help bring political campaigning into the digital age, paving the way for the successful 2008 and 2012 campaigns of Barack Obama.
As a political columnist, television and radio commentator, and Republican official, Patrick J. Buchanan had already worked for two presidents and established himself as one of conservative America’s leading spokesmen, before he first threw his hat into the presidential ring. Buchanan would run for president three times—in 1992, 1996 and 2000—and the impact of his candidacy was far greater than just the number of votes he received.
In 1992, a polarizing year in American politics dominated by a struggling economy, Buchanan first ran for president, launching his own revolt against the political establishment and challenging a sitting president in his own party, George H.W. Bush, whom he felt had betrayed the party’s principles by breaking a “no new taxes” pledge. Promising to “Make America First Again,” and railing against free trade and illegal immigration, Buchanan finished a strong second to Bush in the New Hampshire primary and would take his campaign all the way to the Republican Convention in Houston, where his crusading “Culture War” speech would fire up the party’s base and set the tone for the political battles of the 1990s.