Only ex-president to win back White House offers lessons from Trump, biographer says

Joe Biden is both the number 46 President of the United States and the 45th person to be President of the United States.

Responsible for the paradox is Grover Cleveland, the only one to have served as president for two non-consecutive four-year terms (1885-89 and 1893-97).

For this reason, he is officially considered the 22nd and 24th president, a condition that no other occupant of the White House has, since re-elected to subsequent terms remain the same number.

In four years, this obscure late-19th-century leader could be gaining company if Donald Trump’s plan to return to the 2024 election, which he appears to have already sparked, worked. In this case, Trump will be considered the 45th and 47th presidents.

In American history, there are several cases of former presidents far more relevant than Cleveland who tried unsuccessfully to return to the White House, from Civil War hero Ulysses Grant to Teddy Roosevelt one of the most popular to hold the position.

But Cleveland was the only one to succeed because, according to his biographer Matthew Algeo, he followed two basic rules of politics, which appear to be strictly enforced by Trump: not to abandon public debate and to maintain strict control over his party. .

“Trump is ready to follow the same model established by Cleveland, to remain politically active after he leaves office. Several presidents, after leaving office, will play golf and lecture to earn a lot of money. They don’t get too involved in politics, ”Algeo told Folha.

He is the author of the biography “The President is a Sick Man” – the title refers to a famous episode of the Cleveland presidency, in which he set up a covert operation to cover up cancer.

In his first weeks after his loss to Biden, Trump showed signs that he will not allow the emergence of competitors in the Republican Party and the American right. His reinstatement in politics came at the close of Cpac, a conservative conference held in late February, when he gave a strong indication that he would attempt to return in 2024.

“They [democratas] lost the White House in November. And who knows, who knows, I can decide to defeat them for the third time, ”he said, referring to alleged frauds that occurred during the elections.
Trump also opened fire on one of the biggest Republican leaders, Senate party leader Mitch McConnell, now disaffected.

“To be reelected, it is important to keep control over the party. That’s what Trump is trying to do, and that’s what Cleveland did, ”Algeo says.

The US Constitution allows the same person to be elected president twice, whether consecutively or not. In other words, if Trump wins in four years, he will not be able to try to be re-elected.

This rule came into effect after an amendment passed in 1951. Previously, the number of elections had been published, but the only one to win more than twice was Franklin Roosevelt, who had triumphed four times, between 1932 and 1944.

Back in Cleveland’s day, Twitter was the countless newspapers that proliferated in urban centers across the country and were extremely polarized, like social media today.

“Cleveland cultivated relationships with newspaper owners, who gave him the space he wanted to comment on the day’s events, make statements. It was not common for former presidents to talk about current affairs, so he signaled that he would be back in four years, ”says the biographer.

His target was the government of the President who defeated him in 1888 and who four years later would get the change, Republican Benjamin Harrison.

The big theme back then, as in many elections before and after, was the economy. Democrat Cleveland was a champion of a lean state, while Republican Harrison was more interventionist. Interestingly, both parties changed their ideological position during the 20th century.

“This is why many Republicans today consider Cleveland, who was a Democrat, a great president,” said the journalist.

Defending a reduced role for the state in the economy is just one of the similarities between Cleveland and Trump, according to the biographer. Both can be defined as politically based conservatives in New York State, which was already considered progressive by the end of the 19th century.

Both also had much younger first ladies. In Cleveland’s case, the age difference for his wife, Frances, was even greater than Trump’s for Melania (28 to 24).

“Frances was the daughter of a deceased friend of hers. The first lady played a very important role in the image of the president. The two were married in the White House and had a child soon after their first term. It helped him keep up with the news and come back later, ”says Algeo.

An anecdote difficult to prove, but often repeated by historians, is that when the couple left the White House for the first time, she asked the staff at the residence to take care of everything, because in four years, they would be back. .

Fake news is another point of contact with Trump. Cleveland had a reputation for honesty, but was marked by a lie discovered years later, the subject of Algeo’s book title.

In order not to lose further popularity amid the deteriorating economy during his second term, he underwent an operation to remove a tumor from the roof of his mouth inside a ship, to frighten people away. curious. The published version was that it was a simple tooth extraction.

There are also some important differences between the two. The first is that Cleveland, despite criticism from his successor, was far from Trump’s verbiage. “He never attacked Harrisson personally, the two had a good relationship,” says the biographer.

But most importantly, for the scholar, is that Cleveland has won by popular vote all three presidential elections he contested, including the one he lost to Harrison in the Electoral College. “Trump won none,” says the author, recalling that Hillary Clinton had more votes than the Republican in the 2016 election.

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