Weird History
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Here's What Every Notable Presidential Election Loser Ended Up Doing With Their Life

Updated October 21, 2021 22.9k views57 items

You thought finding a job in your field was hard?  Try running for president. President is arguably one of the most difficult gigs to land in the entire world. The whole country votes every four years on a single person, so the title is pretty hard to come by. As impressive as landing the presidency may be, the people who've lost presidential elections have accomplished some pretty amazing things, too.

Those who lost their bid for the presidency are a lesson in perseverance; many became movers and shakers who changed the world despite their initial failure. They're proof that you can achieve greatness beyond your biggest disappointments. And, hey, maybe that dream job really will be yours if you try over and over again like Ralph Nader. These losers, much like their winning counterparts, have shaken up history.

Photo:
  • Photo: Ralph Alswang / Flickr / CC-BY-ND 2.0

    Campaign: 2004

    Party: Democrat

    Platform: Kerry vowed to make the country "safer, stronger and more secure." He supported legal abortion, advocated repealing tax cuts for the wealthy, and planned to offer a new tax cut for employers who created jobs. He also wanted to implement the 9/11 Commission's anti-terrorism blueprint.

    What He Did Next: In 2013, Kerry became Secretary of State after Obama's nomination. He retired in 2017 and is considering the idea of a 2020 presidential run.

    • Age: 77
    • Birthplace: Aurora, Colorado, USA
  • Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    Campaign: 2004, 1988

    Party: Democrat

    Platform: Former Vice President Al Gore famously held a 36-day Florida recount in his race against George W. Bush. His last presidential campaign focused on creating jobs, improving healthcare and educational opportunities, as well as protecting the environment.

    What He Did Next: Al Gore has dedicated his life to battling climate change and won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for his activism. Later that year, he was the runner-up for TIME's Person of the Year. Gore is a best-selling author, whose novel An Inconvenient Truth landed him a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album. It was later optioned as an Academy Award-winning documentary by the same name. He's currently the founder and chair of the Alliance for Climate Protection.

    • Age: 73
    • Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States of America
  • Campaign: He's been running regularly since the '90s. Most notably, he ran for the Green Party in '00.

    Party: Green Party

    Platform: Ralph Nader is a champion of car safety reform and well-known consumer advocate. He's an activist who initiated the Wholesome Meat Act, which gave slaughterhouses federal regulations.

    What He Did Next: Nader published the various letters he wrote to serving presidents about finance reform, minimum wage, and Supreme Court nominations. His book, Return to Sender: Unanswered Letters to the President 2001-2015, hit stores in 2015. He hoped it would inspire Americans to question their legislators and contact their representatives.

    • Age: 87
    • Birthplace: Winsted, Connecticut, USA
  • Photo: United States Congress / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    Campaign: 1996

    Party: Republican

    Platform: Bob Dole aimed to stop deficit spending and affirmative action, expand clean and renewable energy, and tighten immigration restrictions.

    What He Did Next: After losing the presidency to Bill Clinton, Dole focused on political activism, philanthropy, and his booming career in law. He endorsed Mitt Romney for president in 2012 and lobbied for the Convention of Persons with Disabilities legislation.  Dole is also an author and wrote a number of books including the memoir One Soldier's Story.

    • Age: 98
    • Birthplace: Russell, Kansas, United States of America