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Theodore the Pure

March 21, 2018

Theodore Roosevelt did not believe in opposition research.  When he criticized opponents, he discussed their worldview or their proposals, not their personal lives.  During the 1912 campaign someone told him that Woodrow Wilson had been unfaithful to Mrs. Wilson.  Not only did Roosevelt reject the use of such information, he also ridiculed the notion that Wilson could behave in such a manner or that the voters would believe it.  According to Roosevelt, “No evidence could ever make the American people believe that a man like Woodrow Wilson, cast so perfectly as the apothecary’s clerk, could ever play Romeo.”

Roosevelt had no skeletons in his own closet.  One biographer said:  “It is impossible that there can ever have been a more clean-living man than Theodore Roosevelt.”  In a book of eulogies issued by the State of New York, the Chancellor of the University of Syracuse gave the following assessment.

“He was clean.  No bribe stuck to his hand…  His domestic life required no apology.  There were never whispers of impure liaisons in his neighborhood.  He never led two lives, nor had two homes.  His personal life required no explanation nor apology.  When he was away from home his face was always set homeward and you could no more face him in other directions than you could change the instinct of a carrier pigeon…  The noblest thing about Roosevelt is his home life.  It was a holy example.”

Roosevelt played hard but fair.  He had no skeletons in his closet.  But that did not keep him from becoming the victim of fake news during the 1912 campaign.




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