Gary Hart

I’ve answered more personal questions than anyone in public life.

Tracking Gary Hart's Rise in 1984 Democratic Candidate Gary Hart's meteoric rise in popularity is discussed. Early in the 1988 Democratic primary, presidential candidate Gary Hart experienced a week unlike any other in American politics. One of the Colorado senator’s campaign staffers went on vacation for a week, leaving while he was the frontrunner and returning to see her boss, dogged by rumors of adultery, had exited the race. That’s how quickly a presidential candidate’s fortunes can change, but Hart’s brief run in that election still reverberates through American politics today.

Raised in a working class family on the Kansas prairie, Gary Hart was the first in his family to graduate from college, and high school. One of the Democratic Party’s rising stars, he entered the U.S. Senate in 1974 after running nominee George McGovern’s losing 1972 presidential campaign. Considered by many to be the JFK of his generation, Hart was a different kind of politician—a forward-looking thinker who anticipated everything from the threat of terrorism to the rise of the information economy.

After a surprising presidential run in 1984 that saw the young Senator win 26 contests but lose in delegates to the party’s nominee Walter Mondale, Hart threw his hat back into the ring in early 1987. In the early days of his campaign, he looked like he might well be the next president, running well ahead of Democratic rivals in the polls as well as sitting Republican Vice President George H. W. Bush. Then, in May 1987, reporters for the Miami Herald staked out Hart’s Washington, D.C., townhouse and published a front-page story claiming that he had been spotted leaving with a model named Donna Rice who, it was alleged, also spent the night.

The allegations of infidelity would drive Hart from the race a week later, and would usher in a new era of American politics in which the personal lives of politicians were in play as never before. After exiting national politics, Hart would turn his attention to political theory and foreign policy, earning a doctorate from the University of Oxford and penning several books on political theory. In 2014, he was appointed the U.S. Special Envoy for Northern Ireland. 

Timeline

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