Theodore Roosevelt has some old letters to share, The New York Times doesn't think the Progressives amount to much, and Woodrow Wilson doesn't pay attention to size. (An introduction to our The 1912 Project.)
Roosevelt's History Lesson The biggest get in political journalism right now is a statement of some sort from Theodore Roosevelt declaring himself a candidate. Even though he's being touted as the leading contender to win the Republican nomination from President Taft, the man himself is saying as little as possible about his intentions. Yesterday, he hosted a gaggle of reporters at the Manhattan offices of The Outlook — the opinion journal where he's been working as an associate editor since he left office in 1909 -- and fended off their queries by reading them long passages of Abraham Lincoln's writing. It's kind of a game of code in which the reporters transcribed as much as they could and then sifted for meaning later. As The New York Times reports in today's paper, "It was a sort of class in political history that the Colonel had framed up for his inquisitors, the newspaper reporters, when they besieged him yesterday. When it was all over no one seemed to be any wider regarding the Colonel's plans. He neither said he was willing nor unwilling to be a candidate, but he left the impression that he regarded all the suggestions that he make an announcement of his position at this time as coming from his enemies."
The dominant lesson the reporters seemed to take away from the session is that Roosevelt feared his coverage in the press if he announced too early. One letter from Lincoln, written when he was a presidential candidate, complained, "I have had men to deal with, both North and South. Men who are eager for something new upon which to base misrepresentations; men who would like to frighten me, or at least to fix upon the character of timidity and cowardice. They would seize upon almost any letter I should write as being 'an awful coming down.'" To make sure the message got across, after finishing the passage, Roosevelt provided some analysis.