U.S. Senate office     Bills (Thomas) - 107th - 108th  Bob Graham for President
Interview   Images  Organization   Finances   IA | NH
Withdrew Oct. 6, 2003

 Unlike some of the other Democratic presidential prospects, Florida Senator Bob Graham did not engage in pre-presidential campaign activity during 2001 and 2002.  There were no early visits to Iowa or New Hampshire.  However, in late December 2002 he began to express interest in a campaign.  In a January 12, 2003 letter to close supporters, Graham  wrote, "Our country enters 2003 in serious need of a more strategic understanding of the world and America's role in it."   Specifically, he stated that, "[T]his administration's dominant focus on Iraq diverts important attention and resources from our domestic security and the actions required to win the War on Terrorism."  Graham also decried President Bush's "misplaced priorities" on the economy, stating that they "threaten not only to widen this [economic] disparity and balloon the national debt, but they also place at risk the fundamentals that drive economic expansion..."

Graham was prepared to announce his campaign on February 3, 2003, but his plans were dealt a temporary setback.  After some medical tests, doctors recommended surgery to replace a damaged valve in his heart (aortic valve replacement).  On January 31, Graham underwent the procedure at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.  By February 26 he was back at work and on February 27 he filed papers with the Federal Election Commission establishing a committee.  Graham offiicially declared his candidacy on May 6 in Miami Lakes, Florida. 

Graham waged a solid campaign. He participated in the debates and forums, stumped in key states, and built credible field organizations in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. On July 17 he introduced an economic plan, "Opportunity for All," which called for major investments in infrastructure, nearly $100 billion a year, and repeal of Bush's dividends and capital gains tax cuts.  Among the Democratic candidates, Graham was one of the more sharply critical of President Bush, particularly on his Iraq policy.

Graham continued the workdays he had begun in 1974, including three in New Hampshire--teaching at Oyster River High School in Durham (May 9), working as a conductor on the Conway Scenic Railroad in North Conway (July 5), and working as a stage hand on "Prairie Home Companion" in Gilford (Aug. 17)--and three in Iowa--busing tables at the Drake Diner in Des Moines (May 11), working at Little Sioux Ethanol Plant (Aug. 2), and helping out on the Middleswart Farm in Indianola (Aug. 30).  By the end of September, Graham had spent 31 days in Iowa and 18 days in New Hampshire; he spent a lot of time in South Carolina as well.   In July, the campaign sponsored a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series entry, car number 50 driven by Jon Wood; this effort to reach out to rural and Southern voters generated considerable news. 

Despite his impressive credentials and a sound campaign, Graham's candidacy failed to generate much support and he withdrew from the race exactly five months after he officially announced, on October 6, 2003. 

Readings and Resources
Manuel Roig-Franzia.  "Changed By Terror, A Nice Guy Converted: New 'Outrage' Drives Graham." Washington Post, July 26, 2003.

Nick Anderson.  "Bob Graham: Florida senator, who blends liberal stances with strong national security record, tries to shed image as a longshot."  Los Angeles Times,  June 29, 2003.

Bob Edwards.  "The Candidates: Sen. Bob Graham."  NPR Morning Edition interview.  May 20, 2003. >>

Michael Grunwald.  "Running Scared."  The Washington Post Magazine, May 4, 2003.

Todd S. Purdum.  "An Elder Statesman Offers Steadiness, Not a Jolt."  New York Times.  March 4, 2003.

Speeches and Statements
Statement announcing the end of his campaign, October 6, 2003.

Stump speech from the Des Moines Register "Soapbox" at the Iowa State Fair, Des Moines, Iowa, August 7, 2003.

Declaration of candidacy, Miami Lakes, Florida, May 6, 2003.

Letter to supporters, January 12, 2003.

Copyright © 2003  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action