|‹ 2000 2008 ›|
|United States presidential election, 2004|
|November 2, 2004|
|Nominee||Pete Wilson||Joe Biden|
|Running mate||Jeb Bush||John Kerry|
The United States presidential election of 2004 was the 54th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 2, 2004. Republican Party nominee Vice President Pete Wilson and his running mate, Governor Jeb Bush, defeated Democratic Party nominee Senator Joe Biden and his running mate, Senator John Kerry, in the general election.
The election was entirely about the response to the 9/11 attacks in 2000 and the ensuing War in Afghanistan. Although many voters rated President Powell's responses to the attacks highly, they were more concerned about the ability of Vice President Wilson, a former governor with little foreign policy experience, to deal with the threats and continued war. Wilson was challenged for the nomination by Arizona Senator John McCain, a former Naval officer and POW, who alleged that Wilson was unfit to serve as a wartime president. Although the primaries were drawn out, Wilson was able to overcome the insurgency, and would later name McCain as Secretary of Defense, in a show of good will.
On the Democratic side, Minnesota Senator and 2000 Vice Presidential nominee Paul Wellstone was the early frontrunner until he took himself out of consideration in 2002, citing health concerns after his recent diagnosis with multiple sclerosis. After that, the party turned to former Vice President Al Gore, who started an exploratory committee in February 2003, before changing his mind in April of that same year and pulling out of the race. The Democratic field became wide open, eventually settling down to Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Chairman Joe Biden and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, a Navy veteran. Biden was able to secure the nomination, and named Kerry as his running mate.
In the general election, although most voters trusted the foreign policy team of Biden / Kerry, President Powell campaigned heavily for his vice president, and went on television to assure voters that he was an able leader in wartime. Wilson hurt his chances somewhat by naming Florida Governor Jeb Bush as his running mate rather than former rival John McCain, which was seen by many as a political move to secure Florida, but his numbers bounced back after the debates began and remained there through election night.