A tremendously successful businessman, Herbert Hoover is widely regarded as one of the worst presidents in U.S. history, whose economic policies and slow intervention exacerbated the country into the Great Depression. Decades later, today's lagging economy and stagnant unemployment rate have led to a demand for a new kind of thinking in Washington, paving the way for the increasing popularity of a familiar breed, the businessman-turned-politician. With two former CEOs vying for presidential nominations, we take a look back at CEOs whose economic and business success failed to translate in the political arena.
Businessman Al Checchi, former co-chairman of Northwest Airlines, spent more than $40 million of his own money running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination for California in 1998 but ended up a distant second to Gov. Gray Davis. Stereotyped as the "rich" candidate, the mega-millionaire participated in the transformation of three major American companies -- Marriott, Walt Disney and Northwest Airlines -- and is now the author of a new book, "The Change Maker: Preserving the Promise of America." Read more about Checchi's new book
Publisher and editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine, Steve Forbes, entered the presidential race in 1996 and 2000. Forbes' campaigns primarily dealt with, of course, economics, touting the idea of a flat income tax for all Americans. Despite winning the Arizona and Delaware primaries in 1996, he never secured the Republican nomination and dropped out early in 2000. A Time magazine editorial later likened his stiff campaign style to that of a "dork robot" constructed by a "mad scientist."
Billionaire Ross Perot, founder of Electronic Data Systems and Perot Systems, ran for president as a third party candidate in 1992 and 1996. Perot was at one point a front-runner in the 1992 election, but his unwillingness to listen to his campaign advisers or follow their advice caused his poll numbers to slip phenomenally fast, and he withdrew his candidacy in July. The Texas native ran again four years later, but lost once more to Bill Clinton.
Meg Whitman, former president of eBay, ran for governor of California in 2010 and spent more of her own money campaigning than any other self-funded political candidate in U.S. history, including Michael Bloomberg. Before eBay, Whitman had also served as an executive for the Walt Disney Co. (the parent company of ABC News), DreamWorks, Procter & Gamble and Hasbro. Despite her impressive corporate resume and personal expenditures that exceeded $140 million, Whitman lost to Jerry Brown. Whitman is now the president and CEO of Hewlett-Packard. Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard, ran for California's senate seat that same year but lost to Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer.
Linda McMahon, former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO, was a candidate for Connecticut's Senate seat in 2010, campaigning on a platform of fiscal conservatism. Like Whitman, McMahon ran a personally financed campaign, and her spending was often criticized by her opponents. McMahon secured the GOP nomination, but she lost to Democrat Richard Blumenthal in the general election. Despite her failed bid in 2010, McMahon has announced that she will run again for the Senate in 2012.
Real estate mogul Jeff Greene ran as a Democrat in Florida's 2010 Senate race. Marketing himself as a job creator, Greene financed his own campaign, shunned contributions from special interests and limited individual donations to $100. The billionaire investor touted his business savvy and outsider status in his campaign for the Senate seat. Despite his colorful profile - his infamous yacht parties have hosted the likes of Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Mike Tyson, who was also the best man at his 2008 wedding - Greene ultimately lost in the primaries to Rep. Kendrick Meek.
Blair Hull, former CEO of international trading firm the Hull Group, faced off against Barack Obama for the Democratic Party's nomination to serve as Illinois' senator in 2004. Hull is said to have spent more than $24 million of his personal wealth on the campaign, and he emerged as an early front-runner for the nomination. Later in the campaign, allegations that Hull had abused his ex-wife were reported to the media, stifling his quest for senator. Obama won the Illinois Senate seat, and four years later, the U.S. presidency.