Democracy Dies in Darkness

On Leadership

Karl Rove on what the Republican party today can learn from William McKinley

By Lillian Cunningham

June 19, 2016 at 8:19 PM

(Backgrounds by Craig & Karl for The Washington Post; Photo by Amy King/The Washington Post)

In the newest episode of the Presidential podcast, Republican political strategist Karl Rove dissects what was so transformative about William McKinley's 1896 presidential campaign.

"Political scientists have studied it for years as one of the great five realigning elections in America," Rove says. And yet President McKinley's record-setting fundraising and keen campaigning tactics—such as broadening the Republican base to more robustly include immigrants and working-class voters—go largely forgotten among most citizens today.

The episode also features Washington Post reporter Carol Leonnig, who won the Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of the Secret Service, discussing how McKinley's assassination prompted a new strategy for protecting the president.

Listen to the episode here or on iTunes:

In previous episodes of the Presidential podcast, we've explored topics like Abraham Lincoln's language and the violent life of Andrew Jackson. The podcast is hosted by Lillian Cunningham, editor of The Washington Post's On Leadership section.

As listeners tune in each week, the podcast reveals the ways in which our collective sense of what's 'presidential' has evolved over the years and how each president—esteemed, loathed or nearly forgotten—has something to tell us about what it takes to hold the nation's highest office.

A new episode comes out every Sunday. Here's how to follow along:

Subscribe for free on iTunes to automatically get new episodes when they launch
Check out our Presidential page on the Washington Post site for new episodes and the full series archive
* Follow us on Twitter for discussion about the episodes and upcoming teasers
* Follow us on Instagram for images from history and from behind the scenes of the podcast


Lillian Cunningham is the creator and host of the "Presidential" and "Constitutional" podcasts. She was previously a feature writer for and editor of The Washington Post's On Leadership section, for which she received two Emmy Awards for her interviews with leaders in politics, business and the arts.

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On Leadership

Karl Rove on what the Republican party today can learn from William McKinley

By Lillian Cunningham

June 19, 2016 at 8:19 PM

(Backgrounds by Craig & Karl for The Washington Post; Photo by Amy King/The Washington Post)

In the newest episode of the Presidential podcast, Republican political strategist Karl Rove dissects what was so transformative about William McKinley's 1896 presidential campaign.

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