cover image See How They Ran: The Changing Role of the Presidential Candidate

See How They Ran: The Changing Role of the Presidential Candidate

Gil Troy. Free Press, $27.95 (354pp) ISBN 978-0-02-933035-7

McGill University history professor Troy offers an original, fascinating and admirably focused account of American presidential campaigns from George Washington to George Bush. The author sees the evolution of campaigns as an attempt to balance the contradictions of republican and democratic principles inherent in our government since the nation was founded: ``The president was to be both king and prime minister, a national figurehead and the people's representative.'' Up to and including the candidacy of Andrew Jackson--whose election is said to have signaled the triumph of popular democracy--candidates ``stood'' for rather than ``ran'' for office. In 1880 James Garfield's single brief trip from his native Ohio to New York introduced ``stumping,'' which figured prominently in William Jennings Bryant's 1896 campaign. In Troy's view, Theodore Roosevelt was first to manipulate the press; Franklin Roosevelt used the radio to greatest advantage; and Dwight Eisenhower's aides made TV a potent weapon. Troy does not adopt the common view that the presidential election process has degenerated; instead he sees merely a shift in emphasis. (Nov.)