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The Complicated History of Former Presidents Attempting to Regain the White House

The White House (Credits: TheCollector)

Donald Trump is not the first former US president to attempt a comeback to the White House. Six other presidents have tried before him, with only Grover Cleveland succeeding. Martin Van Buren, Millard Fillmore, Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, and Herbert Hoover failed to regain the presidency.

Martin Van Buren, who lost his reelection campaign in 1840, attempted a comeback four years later but was thwarted by his opposition to the annexation of Texas, which allowed slavery. He later became the nominee of the Free Soil Party in 1848 but received only 10% of the popular vote and no electoral votes.

Millard Fillmore, who became president after Zachary Taylor’s death, declined to seek a full term in 1852 but later accepted the nomination of the Know-Nothing Party in 1856. He lost the election but received over 20% of the popular vote, winning Maryland’s electoral votes.

Donald Trump (Credits: NBC New York)

Ulysses S. Grant attempted to gain the Republican nomination in 1880 but was denied on the 35th ballot. He was concerned about the rise of ex-Confederates in the South and wanted to give the US a more international role.

Grover Cleveland, who lost his reelection campaign in 1888, initially seemed indifferent about a political comeback but later became increasingly worried about government spending and the passage of the McKinley Tariff and Sherman Silver Purchase Act. He defeated Benjamin Harrison in the 1892 election and became the only president elected to discontinuous terms.

Joe Biden (Credits: The New Yorker)

Theodore Roosevelt, who declined to run again in 1908, later became frustrated with his successor, William Howard Taft, and launched a third-party campaign in 1912. The split in the Republican vote allowed Democratic nominee Woodrow Wilson to win the election.

Herbert Hoover, who lost his reelection campaign in 1932, attempted to gain the Republican nomination in 1936 and 1940 but was unsuccessful. Donald Trump’s attempt to regain the White House may succeed like Grover Cleveland’s or fail like the other five presidents. Only time will tell.

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