I am my own man is a relatively common phrase in the recent history of American politics. With so many people with familiar names running for the presidency, it becomes important to plant a flag of independence, however much that's possible.
Here, then, is a brief list of politicians worrying about whether they are their own men:
Gerald Ford. In his first address to Congress as president in 1974, Ford used the phrase, with a twist. "Frequently, along the tortuous road of recent months from this chamber to the president's house, I protested that I was my own man," he said. "Now I realize that I was wrong. I am your man, for it was your carefully weighed confirmation that changed my occupation." In other words: Thanks for making me vice president, Congress, after I assured you that I was not Spiro Agnew. I owe you one.
George W. Bush. Bush describes his discussions with Karl Rove that went into his selecting Dick Cheney as his running mate in 2000. "Choosing Dad’s defense secretary would make people question whether I am my own man," Bush writes, attributing the sentiment to Rove. Clearly, the concern was not a deal-breaker.
George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. In his book, former secretary of state (and Jeb adviser) James Baker assures readers that "President Reagan was his own man. So, too, was George H.W. Bush." Own man as opposed to whose man? As opposed to Baker.
Al Gore. When he accepted the presidential nomination in 2000, Gore sought to distance himself from his boss, Bill Clinton. "I stand here tonight as my own man, and I want you to know me for who I truly am," Gore said. He then went on to lose to George W. Bush, who was not George H.W. Bush, vice presidential pick notwithstanding.
John Edwards. When Edwards ran for the presidency in 2004, he was often compared to Bill Clinton. In an interview with PBS, Clinton distinguished between them. "We share a common culture, and there is some similarities in our roots, but he’s very much his own person and a distinctive person, and I spent most of my life in politics before I ran for national office," Clinton said. He later continued: "I think he’s his own man. As the people get to know him, I think they'll find him fascinating in both the similarities and the important differences."
People found one similarity fascinating.