Hoosier author explores presidential campaign cycles in Indiana

By Abrahm Hurt

INDIANAPOLIS — Many probably don’t remember the presidential campaigns of southern segregationist, George Wallace. Fewer will remember that he drew numerous votes and support in his campaigns through Indiana in 1964, 1968 and 1972.

“Campaign Crossroads: Presidential Politics in Indiana from Lincoln to Obama” by Andrew Stoner delves into the influences of technology, transportation and communication on the political process.

Stoner, a native of Goshen who now teaches at California State University Sacramento, is a lover of history and politics, and he was interested in discovering how campaigns had been conducted throughout the state.

Stoner drew motivation to write the book from an experience he had when he was 13, when he was allowed the opportunity to hear President Gerald Ford speak in 1977.

“Campaign Crossroads: Presidential Politics in Indiana from Lincoln to Obama” investigates the presidential campaign cycles in Indiana’s history. Hoosier Andrew Stoner wrote the book so Indiana communities can have a permanent record of their moment in the spotlight. Photo by Abrahm Hurt, TheStatehouseFile.com

“I was in awe of the spectacle of the event. More than 4,000 people showed up that night to hear from our former president,” Stoner said. “The audience included both Republicans and Democrats and reflected the respect and support Hoosiers grant our leaders.”

Since Indiana is a predominantly Republican state, Stoner was surprised to discover that Hoosiers are more important to the presidential political process than he ever expected.

“Several times the state was fully engaged politically, particularly so in past decades when Indiana was a swing state in the campaigns,” Stoner said. “We tend to think of Indiana as a solidly Republican state, but in 1932, 1964 and again in 2008, Indiana went for the Democratic nominee and reflected the landslide nature of those campaigns.”

Indiana has also hosted important moments in political history such as one of President Franklin Roosevelt’s last public speeches and then-presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy addressing the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Indiana is a perfect example of how retail politics will never go away, Stoner said. He used the example of the 2008 Democratic Primary between Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton. While they both spent large sums of money on television advertising, they also spent time on the ground talking to people one on one in places like Indiana.

Stoner gave the example of Obama campaigning in Indiana with not only his wife but also their two daughters which was rare to personalize his campaign in contrast to his large rallies with large crowds. He also said that Robert Kennedy, who could have easily drawn in thousands, employed a more one on one approach in Indiana in 1968.

While Indiana may not always be an important battleground state, Indiana does have some interesting presidential tales. President Harry Truman snuck off of his train at Union Station and went up to Noblesville in the middle of the night to attend a Mason initiation.

Stoner, a Franklin College graduate, will discuss his book on campus in September. An exact date has yet to be determined. His book is available for purchase from the Indiana Historical Society and through Amazon.

Abrahm Hurt is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.



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