Thursday, Jan. 21, 2010

Grover Cleveland

When Grover Cleveland was the Democratic nominee for President in 1884, reports surfaced that the then unmarried politician had fathered an illegitimate child with a widow named Maria Crofts Halpin. The New York governor publicly ignored the scandal but told his close supporters to "tell the truth" — that he may have been the father of 10-year-old Oscar Folsom Cleveland. Even Halpin didn't know for certain who Oscar's father was; the boy had been named after Cleveland because he was the only unmarried possibility. Without admitting paternity, Cleveland paid child support for many years.

Republicans accused Cleveland of immorality. He countered by maintaining that despite his indiscretion, he had kept his professional integrity — while painting his opponent, James G. Blaine, as a corrupt official at the mercy of Wall Street.

Cleveland won by a wide electoral margin, although the popular vote was considerably closer. And while he got the last laugh, his supporters may have had the best. When Republicans jeered at Cleveland's rallies, chanting, "Ma, Ma, where's my pa?" Democrats would respond, "Off to the White House, ha, ha, ha!"