Arlen George Howard, Jr. was born on August 23, 1942 to Arlen Howard Sr. and Mary-Anne George in Savannah, Georgia. Arlen, Sr. was an auto mechanic before going to fight in the Pacific front of World War II. However, the elder Arlen never met his son, as he died at the Battle of Iwo Jima. After his father's death, Howard, his sister, and his mother were forced to move in with his mother's family in Orlando, Florida. Howard's mother died in 1957, followed by his grandfather in 1958, leaving Howard without a legal guardian. Howard moved to Miami with his sister where he began selling drugs. After a close run in with the police and flunking out of high school, Howard found himself unable to get into college. Instead, he enlisted in the United States Navy. Howard was sent to Vietnam in 1966 and fought there until 1968, when he was shot in the lower abdomen and sent back home. He had attained the rank of commander in the Navy. He then attended the University of Central Florida, where played football and majored in political sciences.
In 1972, Howard worked on President Nixon's re-election campaign. Later that year, Howard decided to run for the Florida House seat of his native Orlando, successfully defeating the incumbent representative. Howard quickly gained a reputation for being one of the strongest Republican allies of Democratic governor Reubin Askew. Governor Askew cited him as a reliable man who able to see past party lines. His well known relationship with the governor aided him in winning the 1974 senate election. Many expected Howard to run for re-election to his class 3 seat in 1980, but he surprised his colleagues by announcing his candidacy for President.
1980 presidential campaign
At 37, Howard is the youngest person to ever run for the presidency. If elected, he would be the youngest elected president, displacing John F. Kennedy. Many theorize that Howard is only seeking to establish himself as a well known figure on the national stage so that he could make a more serious bid in 1984 or 1988. Howard quickly gained media attention for his youth and was contrasted to the much older Ray Walker.
Howard married Alice Greenfield in 1969. They have four children: Arlen III (born 1971), Thomas and Michael (born 1974), and Anne (born 1976).