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|‹ 1992 2000 ›|
|United States presidential election, 1996|
|November 5, 1996|
|Nominee||Colin Powell||Bill Clinton|
|Home state||New York||Arkansas|
|Running mate||Pete Wilson||Al Gore|
The United States presidential election of 1996 was the 52nd quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 5, 1996. Republican Party nominee and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell and his running mate, Governor Pete Wilson, defeated Democratic Party nominee President Bill Clinton and his running mate, Vice President Al Gore, in the general election, becoming the first African-American nominated for a major party's candidacy as well as the first African-American elected president. Powell also joined previous Republican presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Herbert Hoover, and William Howard Taft, as having never held elected office prior to the presidency.
Powell ran as a moderate, pragmatic Republican, famously repudiating the conservatism of House Speaker Newt Gingrich and the 1995 government shutdown in a speech on March 3rd, 1996. Powell consistently polled ahead of Clinton throughout the general election. In June of 1996, after clinching the Republican nomination, Powell's vice presidential shortlist was leaked to the media; it contained California Governor Pete Wilson, Arizona Senator John McCain, and businessman Steve Forbes of New York. The news media discussed these three names fervently for the next few weeks, until Senator McCain announced that he had pulled himself out of consideration for the position. On July 9th, 1996, Powell announced that Governor Pete Wilson would be his running mate, citing Wilson's capable governance of California and solid domestic credentials. Comparisons were made to the 1952 presidential ticket of Dwight Eisenhower / Richard Nixon, in which a moderate general from New York with a primary interest in foreign policy chose a high-ranking California official as vice president with an express intention to allow them to focus on domestic issues.
Although the popular vote was extremely close on election day, Colin Powell defeated President Clinton, 50.2% to 49.1%. Powell also became the first Republican to ever win Washington, DC's electoral vote.