The Art of the Presidential Announcement, From Lincoln to Obama

How do candidates announce their run for the country's most powerful office?

Nowadays, candidates are more subtle. In a modern, media-frenzy society, potential candidates will be under intense scrutiny and faced with legal limitations on campaign funding. Therefore, one can’t be expected to make such an important decision until you “dip your toe in the water.”

Declaring a run for the presidency is tricky business, an art form really, to strategically time the announcement that will maximize a candidate's preparation time without overwhelming public scrutiny and the constraints of campaign laws.

As the presidential announcement season for 2016 is fast approaching, here’s a look back through some of the more memorable ones in history:


Election Year: 1860

Abraham Lincoln is widely regarded as one of the greatest American presidents. He started campaigning in 1860 but did not officially announced his candidacy until May 9 at the Illinois Republican State Convention at Decatur. As a self-taught lawyer and an anti-slavery supporter from Illinois, Lincoln would then go on to be a beloved, savvy leader during perhaps the darkest chapter of our country’s history.

Election Year: 1912

Vice President Teddy Roosevelt became president in 1901 after William McKinley was assassinated, and served two terms. “My hat is in the ring,” Roosevelt said, announcing his third run in February 1912. Abandoning the Republican party after William Taft won the nomination, Roosevelt joined the newly formed Progressive party, known as the “Bull Moose” party.


Election Year: 1932

Election Year: 1952

According to the book "Harry and Ike," Eisenhower announced his candidacy June of 1952 in his hometown of Abilene, Kansas, after Americans pushed the five-star general to get into politics for years. “I believe we can have peace with honor, reasonable security with national solvency,” Eisenhower said to a crowd of 50,000. “I believe in the future of the United States of America.”


Election Year: 1960

Then a senator, JFK announced his candidacy in January for the most powerful office from the U.S. Senate Caucus Room saying, “In the past 40 months, I have toured every state in the Union and I have talked to Democrats in all walks of life. My candidacy is therefore based on the conviction that I can win both the nomination and the election.”


Election Year: 1976

Georgia Gov. Carter declared that he wanted to be the next president and he wanted to win the Democratic Party’s nomination at the Atlanta Civic Center in 1974, nearly two years before the general election. “I intend to win; I intend to be your next President,” Carter said.


Election Year: 1968

Robert Kennedy, the brother of former President John F. Kennedy was appointed attorney general in 1960. Years after the assassination of JFK, he declared in March of 1968 his intention to run for president. Kennedy made his announcement in the Senate Caucus Room, where JFK had made his announcement 8 years earlier.


Election Year: 1976

Richard Nixon resigned, leaving Vice President Ford with the most powerful elected office in the land. Ford announced his candidacy for his next term in June 1975 to reporters in the Oval Office at the White House.


Election Year: 1980

A former actor, Reagan stepped in front of the screen again in 1979 to announce his bid for the White House. His announcement was televised in New York City, a notably private setting compared to that of other candidates.


Election Year: 1988

As vice president in the Reagan administration, George H.W. Bush announced his second presidential candidacy and continued to campaign throughout his vice presidency. During the week of his announcement in October of 1987, a Newsweek magazine issue came out with a cover photo with a headline that read “Fighting the Wimp Factor.”


Election Year: 1992

In a more unique setting, Bill Clinton announced his candidacy on the steps of the historic Old State House Museum in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1991. Clinton would go on to win a second term in 1996, allowing him to preside over the longest peacetime economic expansion in our nation’s history.


Election Year: 2000

Texas Gov. Bush announced his candidacy June 1999 while on a three-day tour to early primary states New Hampshire and Iowa. “There's no turning back, and I intend to be the next President of the United States.” Bush said. “I'm running, and I'm running hard.”


Election Year: 2000

Then-Vice President Al Gore officially launched his presidential campaign in his hometown of Carthage, Tennessee, in front of a crowd of 8,000. In light of the nation’s robust economy, his speech shifted the focus on strengthening the American family, “We must make family life work in America,” he said on June 16, 1999.


Election Year: 2008

In 2006, in his second try for the White House, Edwards took a different approach -- announcing his candidacy from the yard of a home in New Orleans that was being rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina. His unusual choice of location highlighted his concerns for this country’s growing economic disparity.


Election Year: 2008

Clinton announced her candidacy on her official website in January of 2007 -- posting a web message -- or as she put it, “in to win.” Seated in a comfy, cozy living room setting, the former first lady declared she was “not just starting a campaign though, I’m beginning a conversation with you, with America.”


Election Year: 2008

Choosing to make his announcement in February 2007 in his home state of Illinois, then-Sen. Obama addressed a giant crowd, “And that is why, in the shadow of the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln once called on a divided house to stand together, where common hopes and common dreams still, I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for President of the United States.”


Election Year: 2008

President Obama’s 2008 GOP opponent informally announced his candidacy in February 2007 during a live taping of the Late Show with David Letterman. Then two months later, the Arizona senator formally announced in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.


Election Year: 2012

On a rather windy day on June 2011, surrounded by supporters and hay bales, Romney announced his second try for the presidency at Bittersweet Farm in Stratham, New Hampshire, to a crowd of supporters. According to a local paper, the farm has hosted many Republican rallies and events.


Election Year: 2012

The former House Speaker made history by being the first major candidate during that election cycle to announce a run for the White House with a tweet May 2011. “I'm announcing my candidacy for President of the United States because I believe we can return America to hope and opportunity,” Gingrich said in a Web video linked to the tweet.