To a Presidential Notion: Sorry, Mr. Bush, but No

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“I may be the only person, the only presidential candidate who never carried the state in which he was born,” President Bush said Monday.

Uh, no, Mr. President. There have been quite a few, actually. Some are known only to historians, while others are famous. You might even call one a household name, Mr. President, depending on which household.

... Al Gore, for instance. History buffs will remember that he failed to carry Tennessee in 2000. But while Tennessee is often called his “home state,” he was born in Washington, D.C., which he carried overwhelmingly.

George McGovern unambiguously joins Mr. Bush as a candidate who failed to carry the state of his birth. Mr. McGovern, a South Dakota native, carried only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia against President Richard M. Nixon in 1972.

Hubert H. Humphrey, of course, was a giant in Minnesota politics. But he was born in South Dakota, a state he lost to Nixon in 1968.

Others on the list include Adlai E. Stevenson, born in Los Angeles, who did not carry California (or Illinois, where he was governor) against Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952 or 1956.

There was Gov. Alfred E. Smith of New York, who grew up in Manhattan, but failed to carry the Empire State against Herbert Hoover in 1928. Let us not forget James W. Cox, who was born in Ohio but lost to another Ohioan, Warren G. Harding, in 1920. And surely we must recognize Alton B. Parker, born in Cortland, N.Y., who lost the 1904 election to another New Yorker, Theodore Roosevelt.

When he won the White House in 1844, James K. Polk did not carry the state of his birth, North Carolina, or the state where he had been governor, Tennessee. Fast-forward to the time of Abraham Lincoln, who failed to carry his birth state, Kentucky, in 1860 or 1864. (His 1864 opponent, George B. McClellan, did not carry Pennsylvania, even though he was born in Philadelphia.)

Let us close with some familiar names of our time. Another presidential candidate who did not carry the state where he was born was Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, who was born in Colorado.

And the household name, Mr. President? That would be your father, George Herbert Walker Bush, born in the town of Milton in eastern Massachusetts, a state he lost twice.

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