On Presidents’ Day, Americans take a day to recognize the office of the presidency – and to reflect upon the country’s best.
FrumForum asked freshman Republican members which president they admired the most, but excluded President Reagan from contention to give the other presidents a fair chance. The fourteen Republican members who responded gave a range of answers, but President Abraham Lincoln came out on top.
Interestingly, these freshman congressmen have something in common with President Obama, who has identified Lincoln as his favorite president. Independent voters also agreed – a new Gallup poll shows that Lincoln was their favorite president.
“President Lincoln’s ability to guide our country through our most difficult period in history stands as a testament to both his leadership, character and patriotism,” Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) told FrumForum.
“[H]e served as president during one of the most dangerous and trying times our nation has ever faced and he was able to keep our country from falling apart. Lincoln saved our democracy and is the reason our nation is still thriving today,” concurred Rep. Steve Chabot (OH-1).
That same Gallup poll predictably showed Reagan with a 24 point lead over the second place finisher, George Washington.
The congressmen who favored Theodore Roosevelt, the president who finished second in the FrumForum polling, cited his love for the environment and his respect for states’ rights. “Teddy Roosevelt is one of my favorites because of his can-do spirit, his respect for states’ rights, and his exemplary foresight to ensure that the beauty of our nation was left for future generations,” said Congressman Paul Gosar (AZ-01).
“Teddy Roosevelt… believed in and promoted American exceptionalism. In addition, he was instrumental in introducing the U.S. as a world power,” agreed Rep. Bill Flores (TX-17).
Thomas Jefferson was the non-Reagan favorite of Rep. Rick Crawford (AR-1): “Thomas Jefferson was a Renaissance Man. Not only did he write the Declaration of Independence, but he was an author, inventor, farmer, diplomat, and public servant, only to name a few. A true ‘man of the people.’”
Congressman Michael Grimm (NY-13) told FrumForum that he had served under George H.W. Bush – and that he was his choice for favorite non-Reagan president. “President George H. W. Bush was my Commander in Chief when I served as a Marine during Operation Desert Storm. He has the best experience any president can have from his service in the military, to his leadership as an ambassador, his time as a U.S. congressman, his role as the Director of the CIA, and his two terms as Vice President. President George H. W. Bush is the greatest and most dignified American I have ever had the privilege and honor to meet,” he said.
Rep. Chip Cravaack (MN-8) pointed to the economic accomplishments of the Coolidge administration to explain his choice: “During the Coolidge administration the federal budget shrank, the national debt was cut in half, unemployment stood at 3.6%, consumer prices rose just 0.4% and Americans personal wealth increased 17.5%,” he said.
Congressman Kevin Yoder (KA-3), on the other hand, proudly noted that President Eisenhower was from his home state. “He is a proud son of Kansas and a true American hero. Eisenhower worked his way to the highest level of service in the military and public office yet maintained his strong Kansas principles of humility and hard work… When he left office, he left our country with greater prosperity and through his service he made a lasting impression for future generations,” he said.
According to Gallup, 19% of all Americans view Reagan as the nation’s best president, with Lincoln, Clinton, Kennedy and George Washington trailing behind.
With files from Nicole Glass and Shawn Summers.