The Republican leaders really didn’t want Roosevelt as President. As a young Bull Moose Republican in politics, TR had angered top GOP honchos by refusing to appoint Republicans to bureaucratic positions. Party bosses Mark Hanna and Thomas Platt were able to “kick Roosevelt upstairs” as the vice presidential nominee in 1900 for the incumbent President, William McKinley. Roosevelt agreed because he was thinking of running for President in 1904. No one thought that Roosevelt would take over for McKinley later in 1901.
I must admit up front that Teddy Roosevelt is my kind of Republican. He and Abe Lincoln, both Republicans, are two of my heroes. What happened to the GOP that they have moved so far right of their original founders? If someone like Teddy came along in the GOP today I would jump at the chance to vote for him but given the crop of 2016 likely candidates that seems very far from reality right now.
I am currently reading albeit slowly for some reason ( maybe I am just relishing each words of the author) a book about Teddy by Doris Kearns Goodwin so the quote above did not surprise me too much. I am sure that if Teddy were around today the current GOP would tar and feather him if they got a chance, kind of like they did with Colin Powell. Teddy Roosevelt was plain and simple a progressive Republican. I know that combination of words are total foreign to us a hundred years later. Teddy, even though he was part of the New York aristocracy always felt a kinship with the guy that struggled to take care of his family.
Teddy fought the then Republican establishment throughout his political career. None of them liked him too much because he was just too unpredictable when it came to making decisions between the rich and the poor. He simply sided with the poor much too often for them. Deja Vu all over again right? Almost from the beginning he was very popular with the masses of people. They loved his bravado and showmanship. One of the reasons that Teddy was so popular was that he made it almost his life’s purpose to make good friends among the reporters and media of his day. They simply loved him and therefore wrote many favorable things about him.
Like all my heroes Teddy had his dark side. He loved killing things and to some degree that also included people. He often said his most pleasant memories were of his war time on San Juan Hill in Cuba. It seems he simply got a huge rush from extinguishing life. But as usual we have to take some bad to get the good from our heroes.