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    Political Junkie
    Send your questions about campaigns and elections.
    Junkie Mail: Readers Set the Record Straight

    By Ken Rudin
    Special to
    Friday, August 28, 1998

    The way I see it, this column is a two-way street. As long as everyone participates, there will be no need to name an independent counsel. Thus, part of this week's column is devoted to what I'll call "junkie mail" – the interesting things I've learned reading your comments.

    Question: Regarding the Supreme Court justices who have also been interested in the presidency (see the July 31 and Aug. 7 columns), you should also mention John McLean of Ohio, who served on the Court from 1829 to 1861, having previously served in the House and as Postmaster General.

    The High Court: Cradle of presidents? (Ray Lustig – The Post)
    McLean was constantly on the lookout for a presidential nomination, and was willing to trade parties multiple times to get one. He was, at various times, a Democrat, Whig, Free Soiler and Republican, and flirted with the Anti-Masons and Know-Nothings. He came closest at the 1856 Republican convention, finishing second to John Fremont. He also received a few votes in the 1860 convention that nominated Abraham Lincoln. – Brad Poston, Tucson, Ariz.

    Question: FDR was not the only unsuccessful vice-presidential candidate who later won the presidency (see the Aug. 21 column). At the 1956 Democratic convention, presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson left the choice of his running mate to the delegates. John Kennedy was among those candidates who declared for the V.P. nomination, but the convention chose Estes Kefauver. – David Kuhn, Rockville, Md.

    Answer: David is right, of course. The '56 convention was unusual in the fact that there was a wide-open contest for the vice-presidential spot on the ticket. But Roosevelt was the only unsuccessful vice presidential nominee to later become president.

    By the way, in my column on whether Arizona Sen. John McCain could become president because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone (see the July 9 column), I mentioned the case of George Romney, who sought the 1968 GOP nod even though he was born to American parents in Mexico. David Kuhn, as well as Mike Dowling of West Palm Beach, Fla., pointed out that then-Sen. Lowell Weicker (R-Conn.) made a brief stab at the 1980 nomination, even though he was born in Paris to American parents.

    Question: You mentioned that James Knox Polk was the only speaker of the House to later become president (see the Aug. 14 column). Wasn't Millard Fillmore also speaker before he became vice president under Zachary Taylor? – Bill Nelson, Glenview, Ill.

    Answer: Fillmore was a leading member of Congress and chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. He never became speaker, although he was runner-up in the speaker's race in 1841 to John White, a Whig from Kentucky.

    Question: Is it true that Congressman John Scott Harrison of Ohio was both the son and father of a president? – Ray Reynolds Graves, Farmington Hills, Mich.

    The long line of Harrison descendants in Congress ended in Wyoming's 1968 GOP primary. (Collection of Ken Rudin)
    Answer: You are right. His father was William Henry Harrison, the ninth president, who died just 32 days into his administration. John Scott Harrison was, like his father, a congressman from Ohio. He died in 1878, ten years before his son Benjamin Harrison was elected 23rd president.

    By the way, John Scott was also the grandson of another Benjamin Harrison, who was a member of the Continental Congress and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. And he was the great-grandfather of the late Rep. William Henry Harrison, a Wyoming Republican who served in the House in the 1950s and '60s.

    Got a question? Ask Ken Rudin:

    Ken Rudin, a former editor at NPR and the Hotline, writes the "Political Graffiti" column for The Hill, a Capitol Hill weekly. He is also the creator of's ScuttleButton contest.

    © Copyright 1998 Ken Rudin

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