Miller Center

Riding The Tiger

“I discovered that being a President is like riding a tiger. A man has to keep on riding or be swallowed.” Harry S. Truman

Huntsman ends candidacy

Huntsman with wife Mary Kaye

Jon Huntsman on campaign trail in New Hampshire. Photo courtesy of Patrick Gensel

Jon Huntsman, former Utah governor and Ambassador to China, dropped out of the race for the GOP presidential nomination today, citing "it is now time for our party to unite around the candidate best equipped to defeat Barack Obama."  

He went on to say that candidate is Mitt Romney, who he called "unelectable" as recently as last week.  

Flouting the RNC Rules

Red, White, and Blue Elephant

Photo by Jonathan McIntosh

In 2010, the Republican Party changed the rules that governed the schedules for primaries and caucuses in the 2012 presidential election. The changes included allowing states that award their delegates proportionally in either a primary or caucus to hold their contests in March, but winner-take-all states have to wait until April to hold their contests.

Romney Wins New Hampshire Primary

Mitt Romney on the campaign trail

Mitt Romney in Paradise Valley, AZ in December 2011.  Courtesy of Gage Skidmore.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney was the decisive winner in yesterday’s Republican primary in New Hampshire, garnering 39% of the vote with 97,532 votes. Congressman Ron Paul was the second place finisher, with 56,848 votes for 23% of the vote. Ambassador Jon Huntsman came in third with 41,945 votes for 17%, followed by Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Rick Perry.

Romney’s win in the nation’s first political party primary election marks back-to-back wins, putting his campaign on strong footing going into South Carolina’s primary, which is historically key to the GOP presidential nomination. Since 1980, every South Carolina primary winner has gone on to win the Republican Party nomination.

Bachmann Ends White House Bid

Bachmann news conference

Michele Bachmann drops out of the race.  Photo courtesy of

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has dropped out of the race after a disappointing sixth place finish in the Iowa caucuses.

Bachmann had a promising start in Iowa, winning the Ames Straw Poll in August, but her support eroded steadily over the summer despite an aggressive campaign and tour of the state. She did not endorse another candidate.

Romney—no, Santorum—the Winner of the Iowa Caucus (UPDATED)

Rick Santorum on the campaign trail in Iowa

Rick Santorum campaigns in West Des Moines, Iowa.  Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore.

In the official kick-off to the 2012 horse race, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney barely edged out rival former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania to win yesterday’s Republican Party Caucus in Iowa by the slimmest of margins. Romney won 30,015 out of 122,255 cast votes, narrowly beating Santorum’s 30,007 votes. Coming in a close third was Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, followed more distantly by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Governor Rick Perry of Texas, Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, and former Governor of Utah and Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman.

UPDATE, January 19:  After the official vote certification process, the Iowa Republican Party has declared Rick Santorum the winner of the Iowa caucuses by 34 votes.


Gerald L. Baliles

Gerald L. Baliles, Director of the Miller Center

I welcome you to our blog Riding the Tiger: The Presidential Election in Context. The Miller Center is a non-partisan research institution that seeks to expand understanding of the presidency, policy, and political history, providing critical insights for our nation’s governance challenges.

We intend to take the news and issues of the election campaign coverage and mine our resources to provide historical context to those issues. Our goal is to show when similar issues or situations have confronted presidents or presidential candidates, how they have responded—and how the lessons learned from those attempts, whether failed or successful, impact the decision-making by candidates today.

Why Are We Riding This Tiger?


So why did we title this blog, Riding the Tiger?

It is a take-off from a quote by President Harry S. Truman. In the first paragraph of Volume Two of his memoirs, Years of Trial and Hope (Doubleday, 1956), Truman wrote:

“Within the first few months I discovered that being a President is like riding a tiger. A man has to keep on riding or be swallowed. The fantastically crowded nine months of 1945 taught me that a President either is constantly on top of events or, if he hesitates, events will soon be on top of him. I never felt that I could let up for a single moment.”