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Children of the Presidents
Political Junkie
Send your questions about campaigns and elections.

By Ken Rudin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Friday, August 10, 2001

Question: What has become of the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt's children? How many of them are still alive?
– Tony Starman, Maquoketa, Iowa

Button Button
FDR's sons achieved a modicum of political success. (Collection of Ken Rudin)

Answer: FDR had one daughter and five sons, and all are deceased. Anna, born in 1906, died in 1975; James, born in 1907, died in 1991. Franklin, born in March of 1909, died before he was eight months old. Elliott, born in 1910, died in 1990. Franklin Jr., born in 1914, died in 1988. And John, born in 1916, died in 1981. James, Elliott and FDR Jr. all went into politics.

James Roosevelt sought the California governorship in 1950 but lost in a landslide to incumbent Republican Earl Warren. In 1954 Roosevelt was elected to the House, winning the seat vacated by Sam Yorty, who lost a bid for the Senate. Re-elected easily five times, Roosevelt ran for mayor of Los Angeles in 1965 against a now-Mayor Yorty, a Democrat who was on bad terms with party liberals. Yorty won that race handily. In September of that year Roosevelt resigned his House seat, having been appointed by President Johnson to serve as the U.S. delegate to the United Nations Economic and Social Council. In 1972, he was chairman of "Democrats for Nixon."

Before embarking on a political career of his own, Elliott Roosevelt became an issue in the 1940 presidential campaign. A year before Pearl Harbor, Elliott entered the Army Air Corps with the rank of captain, and many Republicans charged that he received special favors because of his father.

Wendell Willkie buttons during that campaign proclaimed, "I Want to Be a Captain Too." But Elliott became a heralded pilot, flying 300 combat missions during the war and was wounded twice. In the 1960s, he was elected mayor of Miami Beach and served as Florida's Democratic committeeman.

FDR Jr. was spurned by Tammany Hall in his bid for the Democratic nomination in a 1949 special congressional election in Manhattan, so he ran as the candidate of the Liberal Party and won. Serving with the Democrats, he easily won re-election in 1950 and '52. In 1954 he lost the Democratic gubernatorial nomination to Averell Harriman at the state Democratic convention, at which he was tapped as the party's candidate for attorney general. In a generally Democratic year, Roosevelt lost to a fellow Manhattan congressman, Republican Jacob Javits. Once again seeking the governorship in 1966, and once again not about to get the nomination, he bolted the Dems and ran as the Liberal Party nominee, siphoning a half million votes away from the Democratic candidate.

By the way, your question arrived just days before the death of Maureen Reagan, daughter of former President Ronald Reagan. That leaves 24 children of former presidents still alive:

• TRUMAN: Margaret Truman Daniel (77 years old)
• EISENHOWER: John (78)
• KENNEDY: Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg (43)
• JOHNSON: Lynda Robb (57), Luci Nugent (54)
• NIXON: Tricia Cox (55), Julie Eisenhower (53)
• FORD: Michael (51), Jack (49), Steven (45), Susan Vance (44)
• CARTER: Jack (54), Chip (51), Jeff (48), Amy (33)
• REAGAN: Michael (55), Patti Davis (48), Ronnie (43)
• BUSH: George W. (55), Jeb(48), Neil (46), Marvin (44), Doro Koch (41) • CLINTON: Chelsea (21)

For more about Maureen Reagan's political career, see the Feb. 9 column.

Question: In 1964, Jed Johnson, Jr. (D) was elected to Congress from Oklahoma, making him at that time the youngest man ever elected to the House. Does he still hold that distinction?
– Pat Robinson, Wolcott, Conn.

Answer: Johnson was elected in 1964 at the age of 24 years and 11 months. At the time, he was the youngest member of Congress but not the youngest of all time. That distinction goes to William Charles Cole Claiborne. Born in 1775, he was elected from Tennessee in 1796 and re-elected in 1798, "in spite of the fact that he was still initially under the constitutional age requirement of twenty-five years," according to the Biographical Directory of the American Congress. The youngest current member is Adam Putnam of Florida. The Republican freshman, born July 31, 1974, was 26 at the time of his election last fall.

Question: Can you tell me which Democrats crossed over to cast their votes in favor of adopting drilling in the Arctic Refuge area, and backing the full Bush/Cheney energy bill?
– Janet Lenihan, Monterey, Calif.

Answer: The vote to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska was 223-206, with 36 Democrats voting in favor:

Baca (Calif.), Berry (Ark.), Bishop (Ga.), Boyd (Fla.), Brady (Pa.), Carson (Okla.), Clyburn (S.C.), Cramer (Ala.), Dooley (Calif.), Edwards (Texas), Green (Texas), Hall (Texas), Hilliard (Ala.), Jefferson (La.), John (La.), Kanjorski (Pa.), Lucas (Ky.), Mascara (Pa.), Mollohan (W.Va.), Murtha (Pa.), Oberstar (Minn.), Ortiz (Texas), Peterson (Minn.), Phelps (Ill.), Reyes (Texas), Ross (Ark.), Sandlin (Texas), Shows (Miss.), Skelton (Mo.), Stenholm (Texas), Tanner (Tenn.), Taylor (Miss.), Thompson (Miss.), Towns (N.Y.), Traficant (Ohio) and Turner (Texas).

The vote on the full energy bill was 240-189, with 36 Dems on board. Every Democrat on the above list voted for final passage except Berry, Boyd, Oberstar, Peterson, Reyes, Skelton, Stenholm, Tanner and Taylor. The remaining Democrats who voted for final passage but not the drilling in ANWR were Barcia (Mich.), Boucher (Va.), Dingell (Mich.), Doyle (Pa.), Holden (Pa.), Jackson-Lee (Texas), Lampson (Texas), Matheson (Utah) and Visclosky (Ind.).

Question: Who is the Supreme Court Justice who made the comment about pornography -- the one that went something like, "I don't know how to define it, but I know it when I see it." The expression has become part of the American vernacular and I find myself referring to it when I teach, so I want to give credit where credit is due.
– Carolyn Engelhard, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.

Years before joining the Court, Potter Stewart was a local GOP official in Cincinnati. (Collection of Ken Rudin)

Answer: It was the late Justice Potter Stewart. The 1963 case Jacobellis v. Ohio involved the arrest of a Cleveland Heights movie theater manager over a scene in a French movie that some found objectionable. The Court voted to overturn the conviction, with Stewart saying that prosecutions for obscenity must be limited to "hardcore pornography." Stewart concluded, "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that."

Question: In her August 3rd Washington Post article, "Senate Panel's Democrats Approve Election Reform," Helen Dewar wrote, "The approved bill, drafted by committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) and co-sponsored by all 51 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus ..." Was this a simple misprint, or is Jim Jeffords a member of the Democratic Caucus?
– Kevin J. McColaugh, Xenia, Ohio

Answer: What gave Democrats control of the Senate was not simply Jeffords leaving the Republican Party to become an independent, but his decision to caucus with the Democrats. His vote, added to the 50 the Dems already had, is what made Tom Daschle the majority leader and put Democrats in charge of all the committees.

Got a question? Ask Ken Rudin: junkie@washingtonpost.com

Ken Rudin, political editor at National Public Radio, is also the creator of washingtonpost.com's ScuttleButton contest.

© Copyright 2001 Ken Rudin


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