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|‹ 2000 2008 ›|
|United States Presidential election, 2004|
|November 2, 2004|
|Candidate||Jay Leno||Jeb Bush|
|Running mate||Bruce Springsteen||Deborah Harding|
|Blue indicates Leno/Springsteen, Red indicates Bush/Harding|
The United States presidential election of 2004 was the United States 55th quadrennial Presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 2, 2004. The incumbent, President Steve Martin of the National Party, was ineligible to run as he was term limited. The Democratic nominee, James "Jay" Leno, the Governor of Massachusetts, defeated the Nationalist candidate, Jeb Bush, the Governor of Florida, by a margin of 8 electoral votes thanks to his somewhat controversial victory in Pacifica. The election marked the first Democratic President elected since 1992, and only the third Democratic President elected since 1960.
The popular Steve Martin was term limited after the 2004 election, and the election became a referendum on the path the country wanted to take with the economy finally robust once more. Martin's popularity had survived due to successful "military assistance operations" in Scotland and Cyrene during his first term and in Africa throughout his second. Democrats were highly critical of the new found military presence in the Nationalist government and the "sphere of policing" Romney had established in strategically important nations. Some had interpreted Martin's actions as an attempted escalation of the Cold War to re-establish American might in the wake of France's disastrous campaigns in Vietnam during the 1980's and in Siam in the 1990's. However, the booming economy, especially between 2000-2003, helped Martin's image and the 2002 midterm elections had only seen a net loss of four seats for the incumbent Nationalists in the House of Representatives. The Mars Mission of 2003 was a huge victory for the Romney administration.
The 2004 election thus became a question of whether the National Party could find a worthy successor to their strongest President since Prescott Bush, and how they planned to continue his plans. The Democrats, meanwhile, were determined to use the new found growth and positive spirit in America to push ambitious social programs they had been trying to pass since the 1970's to little or no avail.
National Party Candidates Gallery
When Vice President William Parcells announced after the 2002 midterm election that he would not, as previously suspected, seek the National Party nomination in 2004, the election became far more open. The strongest candidates throughout 2003 and into the 2004 primary season were:
- Florida Governor Jeb Bush declared for the election in early 2003. With his father having served as Vice President to Robert Redford and his grandfather having been President between 1945-1953, Bush was the clear frontrunner due to name recognition and experience.
- Kahokia Senator Joshua Pollmer entered the election as the strongest Congressional presence in the National Party primary. A longtime Senator from Kahokia, many felt that Pollmer offered the best balance between conservative ideology and the "reform right" movement begun by Martin.
- Texas Senator Jim Bicky had an early lead in campaign financing, having declared his intention to not just run but "win the Presidency" as early as 2002. His youthful appeal was considered his strongest asset going into the primaries.
- Kansas Governor Oscar "Ossie" Clowney was considered a strong potential candidate due to his presence as the first-ever black governor of Kansas - however, he was also unpopular in his home state of Kansas and considered a long-shot to win a third term at home in 2006.
- Nova Scotia Congressman Clint Borsten emerged in late 2003 as a strong grassroots contender, but he was seen as too conservative by many moderate Nationalists and was also criticized by his opponents for hailing from a relatively sparsely populated district in his home state.
- Secretary of State Peter Isaacs had served as the Secretary of State between 1997-2001 for President Martin before retiring in favor of Janet Clark. He was seen as a foreign policy expert, but his domestic experience was weak.
- California Congresswoman Deborah Harding was one of the longest-interred Nationalist females in the House, having served since 1991. Her stance as a "family-first" candidate appealed to many stauncher conservatives, and yet her moderate economic platform still appealed to independents and moderates. Her lack of executive experience was viewed as her weakness. Harding famously declared that she was "going to Washington or back to California" and was not mounting a general election campaign for her House seat.
- Former Texas Governor Sam Scott, who ran in the 1996 election, declared his candidacy once again, although this time was seen as a long-shot candidate
Democratic Party Candidates Gallery
The Democrats were searching for a worthy opponent to tackle the strong National Party. Generic polls showed the two parties neck-in-neck, and there was a sense of national fatigue of the National Party - the Democrats began subscribing to the idea that Martin benefited from personal popularity and not policy popularity. As so, a broad spectrum of Democrats entered the primaries. The strongest candidates heading into the 2004 primary season were:
- New Jersey Senator Bruce Springsteen, then the Senate Majority Leader who declared in 2003 on Bill Clinton Tonight that he was giving up his Senate seat to run for President. One of the strongest liberals in the Senate since his victory in 1986, Springsteen was seen as a champion of the left, referred to as "the Boss" by many of his colleagues and as "the Champion of the Common Man." His campaign was, at the outset, seen as the strongest.
- Massachusetts Governor Jay Leno had given up his Senate seat in 1998 to run for Governor. Having secured reelection in 2002, Leno announced he would enter the Presidential race in the summer of 2003, later than many other candidates. He was seen as an unusually centrist New England Democrat - however, it was his centrism that also brought him a groundswell of appeal in the South, which had once been a solid Democratic stronghold but had begun leaning Nationalist during the Martin years.
- Huron Governor James Carrey, who had served between 1995-2003 as the youngest governor in Huron's history, and one of its most popular. Referred to as the "Democratic Dick Van Dyke" by the media, he assembled one of the strongest campaign staffs in a generation and was seen as the center of the Democratic Party's best candidate. At many points in the fall of 2003, he was polling at the top and was considered the clear frontrunner entering the primaries over Springsteen and Leno.
- Pacifica Senator Charles Posey entered the race in 2003 and ran on his record as "Chummy Charlie," a popular and influential legislator who was close with most Nationalist Senators and had been critical in earning Democratic support for Martin policies. His Democratic opponents slammed him as a sellout to Martin, but Posey pointed to his record of bipartisanship and encouraging cooperation between parties.
- Georgia Congressman Michael Hubbard was an Old Guard Democrat, having served in the House for thirty years. While many were concerned about his record in his youth as an anti-desegregationist, Hubbard in fact employed numerous black men and women and had spoken at the NAACP and Civil Front conferences on numerous occasions, and was even endorsed by Civil Front leader Chris Rock in 2003.
General Election Campaign
Coming out of the conventions, the Bush-Harding ticket led the Leno-Springsteen ticket by about two points. The race remained neck-and-neck through the fall, especially due to numerous perceived gaffes by Springsteen on the campaign trail.