Updated Sept. 30,
Gary Hart served as U.S. Senator for Colorado from 1975 to 1987.
In 1984 Hart sought the Democratic presidential nomination running on the
theme of "new ideas," but the Democratic establishment threw its backing
behind former Vice President Walter Mondale. Hart was caught engaging
in some Monkey Business in 1987 and his 1988 campaign fizzled. Since
then, however, Hart has been toiling in the vineyards of democracy, producing
five nonfiction books (as well as a couple of novels) and serving on the
U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century. His name emerged
as a possible 2004 candidate in November 2002. An article in the
December 30, 2002 issue of The New Republic detailed how a couple
of university students prompted Hart to think about running.
A Primary of Ideas
Hart explained his thinking about a presidential bid in a January 2003
visit to Capitol Hill. "I think I've got something to say; I know
I've got something to say. I know what I have to say is different
from everybody else and I want to make a contribution and that's all I'm
trying to do is figure out how to do that. If it means running for
President I'll do it; if it means doing something else I'll do something
By the third week of January he was starting to look very much like a candidate.
A web site went up on January 18. On January 21, he delivered the
first of four major policy speeches, on national security. In subsequent
speeches he addressed foreign policy (February 10), restoring the Republic
(end of February) and the new economy (March 4).
Hart did not form an exploratory committee or a campaign committee,
but in mid-March he began a more formal "testing the waters" phase, forming
an entity, GaryHartNews, Inc., to manage his activities. He continued
traveling and speaking until on May 7 he ruled out a presidential campaign.
Writing in the Denver Post, he stated, "I have absolutely no doubt
that I can compete with any Democrat in this race on the level of ideas
and policies and communicating those to the voters... However, the
issue for me is one of process - all the filters, such as money, media
and polls, through wich a national vision must pass." Hart endorsed
Sen. John Kerry on September 30.
Website went up on Jan.
(Hart launched his own blog
this site on March 28, 2003).
Strengths and Weaknesses
+ Hart offers a fresh face,
since he has not been much in the public eye in the last dozen years or
so, and at the same time has experience as a U.S. Senator and presidential
+ Running an unconventional
campaign, Hart could distinguish himself from the rest of the field.
+ Very knowledgeable about
homeland security and national security issues.
- Two words: Monkey Business.
Whether the media and the public will be able to get past that episode
from Hart's past to examine the ideas he is offering remains to be seen.
Readings and Resources
John Tierney. "Gary
Hart Weighs Strengths Against Past Embarrassment." The New York
Times. January 24, 2003.
Michelle Cottle. Comeback
Kids: The Strange Return of Gary Hart." The New Republic.
December 30, 2002. >
Books by Gary Hart:
Restoration of the Republic:
The Jeffersonian Ideal in 21st-Century America. Oxford University
Press (July 2002).
The Minuteman: Restoring
an Army of the People. The Free Press (May 1998).
The Patriot: An Exhortation
to Liberate America from the Barbarians. The Free Press (December
The Good Fight: The Education
of an American Reformer. Random House (May 1993).
Russia Shakes the World:
The Second Russian Revolution and Its Impact on the West. HarperCollins
with William S. Lind. America
Can Win: The Case for Military Reform. Adler & Adler Pub
A New Democracy.
William Morrow & Co. (1982).
Right from the Start:
A Chronicle of the McGovern Campaign. Times Books (June 1973).
as John Blackthorn. I,
Che Guevara. William Morrow & Co. (2000).
as John Blackthorn. Sins
of the Fathers. William Morrow & Co. (1999).
The Strategies of Zeus.
William Morrow & Co. (1987).
with William Cohen. The
Double Man William Morrow & Co. (1985).
Speeches and Statements
of May 7, 2003 -- "Thank you all - I intend to keep fighting"