Other presidential hopefuls swung through Sandusky

SANDUSKY The club is small but growing. Another member is inducted today. The club's
Cory Frolik
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

The club is small but growing. Another member is inducted today.

The club's membership comprises the major party presidential hopefuls who visited Sandusky while on the campaign trail. The exact number of members is unclear -- historical record is spotty -- but at least six candidates definitely blazed a path through the Erie County seat.

Make that seven today.

With his whistle-stop speech today on Washington Street, Sen. John McCain is on track to reverse Sandusky's long-standing tradition of being overlooked by presidential hopefuls.

He arrives at the Sandusky Gazebo sometime after 1 p.m.

Sandusky wasn't always so unappreciated. A century ago, it was a veritable hot spot of presidential political activity.

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Sandusky Library archives librarian Ron Davidson said a handful of presidential hopefuls actively seeking office have stopped here. Of course, far more presidents-later-to-be have visited for other reasons, such as visiting Cedar Point.

Possibly the earliest presidential candidate to visit Sandusky was William Henry Harrison, the Whig Party candidate, in 1840. Several Sandusky women embroidered a banner in honor of the campaign. It is now on display at the Follett House Museum.

On Sept. 2, 1908, William Howard Taft (27th president) spoke at what is now the Ohio Veterans Home, hoping to curry favor with local voters. Taft succeeded Theodore Roosevelt, who took a hiatus from American politics.

Four years later -- in 1912 -- Roosevelt made a another run for the White House. As part of his whistle-stop tour, Roosevelt spoke at Columbus Avenue in support of his presidency. By then, the voters had moved on and chose not to put him in office.

In September 1916 Republican presidential hopeful Charles Evans Hughes gave a speech on Hayes Avenue in front of what was the American Crayon factory. Hughes was unsuccessful in his bid.

A photograph in the Nov. 11, 1940, issue of Life Magazine shows presidential candidate Wendell Willkie campaigning in Sandusky. Willkie lost the election to Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Two elections later -- in October 1948 -- president Harry Truman passed through Sandusky, Davidson said. He was reelected in 1949.

McCain is not expected to give a long speech today. Speculation from GOP officials was that he would spend more time shaking hands with voters than he would outlining policy.

But his presence alone makes him part of a special club -- one that will reserve him a place in Sandusky's history books.