Here Are Each of the Presidential Candidates’ Very Revealing First Appearances in the New York Times

Here Are Each of the Presidential Candidates’ Very Revealing First Appearances in the NYT

Here Are Each of the Presidential Candidates’ Very Revealing First Appearances in the NYT

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Aug. 6 2015 3:30 PM

Here Are Each of the Presidential Candidates’ Very Revealing First Appearances in the NYT

Jeb Bush
Jeb Bush is interviewed at a Miami Radio Station, WIOD, in March, 1980.

Photo by Tim Chapman via Getty Images

This week, the Internet rediscovered the very first New York Times mention of Donald Trump: an article about an ugly housing discrimination case in the 1970s that now seems like foreshadowing of controversies to come. So we decided to take a look at the paper of record’s first mention of all the other candidates in the race. Not just biographical footnotes, many feel like time capsules of debates and elections long forgotten.

(Note: A few context-less mentions in lists of election candidates have been excluded.) 


Donald Trump

Date: Oct. 16, 1973

Mention: At the corporation’s main office, 600 Avenue Z in Brooklyn, Donald Trump, president, denied the charges. “They are absolutely ridiculous,” he said. “We have never discriminated and we never would.”


Context: The bombastic former real estate magnate who still has a penchant for racially-charged rhetoric first made waves when his company was charged with violating the Fair Housing Act for, as the Times put it, refusing to rent or negotiate rentals “because of race or color.” requiring different terms for renters based on race, and misrepresenting “to blacks that apartments were not available.”

Hillary Clinton

Date: July 3, 1978


Mention: “Finally, the attack focused on the fact that Mr. Clinton’s wife, a politically active lawyer he met at Yale, has retained her maiden name,” Howell Raines wrote at the time. Raines quotes Bill Clinton as saying: “They talk about ‘Clinton’s wife’… and then they’d say ‘Ms. Hillary Rodham’ in a sneering tone. That was probably the biggest mistake by my opponents—thinking the could use her against me.”

Context: At the time of the article, which profiled a new breed of southern politician, Bill Clinton (aka the “whiz kid of Arkansas politics”) was the attorney general of Arkansas and in his first run for governor. The couple may have brushed off the attacks about Hillary keeping her name at the time, but by Bill’s 1982 gubernatorial campaign she was going by Hillary Clinton.

Jeb Bush

Date: Feb. 18, 1980


Mention: “Hernan Padilla, the mayor of San Juan, attributed Mr. Bush’s success to several factors. He said Mr. Bush had appeared charismatic and intense early in the campaign, especially in his television advertising, and he said it was important that Jeb Bush, Mr. Bush’s 26-year-old son, had spent nearly two months in Puerto Rico. The Mayor said that some of Mr. Bush’s success could be attributed to the fact that Jeb Bush speaks fluent Spanish.”

Context: Jeb’s fluency, acquired on a teaching stint in Mexico where he also met his future wife, might have helped his dad win the 1980 Puerto Rico primary, but Ronald Reagan would take the nomination.

Bernie Sanders


Date: March 8, 1981

Mention: “Olive branches and soothing balm seemed in order, and so Bernie Sanders, a 39-year-old, self-styled Socialist from Flatbush who surprised Vermont on Tuesday by narrowly being elected Mayor of its largest city, was being careful to sound conciliatory.”

Context: Sanders got the full article treatment when he was elected mayor of Burlington, Vermont in 1981, pledging to govern with a “definite class analysis.” The olive branches evidently didn’t work on the Democrat he defeated, who predicted that people would soon “be paying $10 a head to see the freak Mayor of Burlington.”

George Pataki

Date: June 27, 1982

Mention: “Anyone with a fondness for the Hudson would have welcomed the scene Wednesday evening at Riverfront Green, an eight-acre park and docking area on Peekskill's waterfront. There, the city's Mayor, George Pataki, broke a bottle of champagne over the hull of the Commander, a ferryboat built in 1917 that will now cruise the river as a commercial passenger liner.”

Context: Pataki served as mayor of Peekskill from 1981-1984 before entering the New York State Assembly.

John Kasich

Date: Sept. 5, 1982

Mention: “In Ohio's redrawn 12th District near Columbus, Bob Shamansky, a first-term Democrat, now finds himself in a strong Republican area and campaigning against John Kasich, an aggressive State Senator who led the fight to reinstate the state's death penalty.”

Context: Kasich won the election and served in the House until 2001, later going on to be governor of Ohio.

Ben Carson

Date: Sept. 8, 1987

Mention: “After the operation, which ended at 5:15 a.m. Sunday, the extensive head wounds, which measured approximately 16 inches in circumference, continued to ooze blood, according to Dr. Ben Carson, the pediatric neurosurgeon who had surgically divided the brain tissue shared by the babies.”

Context: The now retired surgeon first gained wide renown for successfully separating two Siamese twins who were joined at the head.  

Rick Perry

Date: Nov. 8, 1990

Mention: “ Jim Hightower, a two-term incumbent known as an advocate of enlightened farming as well as one of the funniest figures in American politics, was defeated Tuesday by Rick Perry, a 40-year-old rancher and farmer.”

Context: Hightower might have been taken down on Perry’s rise to power, during which the eventual governor of Texas served as Commissioner of Agriculture, but he went on to a career as a political humorist and author of titles like There’s Nothing in the Middle of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos.

Rick Santorum

Date: Jan. 4, 1991

Mention: “A freshman Republican, Representative Rick Santorum of Pittsburgh, was sworn in with his young nieces, Elizabeth Kusturiss and Alyssa Thornburg, on his arms, and said, ‘I need more information to be convinced that we need to take offensive action at this time.’”

Context: Santorum was sworn in during the build up to the first Gulf War, which Congress authorized several days later. Whatever doubts he had about military force in 1991, he later went on to be a strong supporter of the second Iraq war as senator.

Bobby Jindal

Date: Dec. 9, 1991

Mention: “JINDAL, Piyush Robert, Baton Rouge, La., Brown University.”

Context: Brown student Piyush Robert Jindal was first mentioned in a list of Rhodes scholars. Also on the list is one Cory A. Booker of Harrington Park, New Jersey.

Mike Huckabee

Date: Nov. 4, 1992

Mention: “Senator Dale Bumpers, the popular three-term incumbent, trounced his Republican challenger, Mike Huckabee, a 37-year-old minister and broadcast executive.”

Context: The Arkansan lost his first race, for senator, the same year Bill Clinton was elected president, but was elected lieutenant governor in a special election the following year. 

Jim Gilmore

Date:  June 7, 1993

Mention: “In fact, [Michael P.] Farris's dominance of the convention was so complete -- his supporters began packing local delegate caucuses months ago -- that the nominee for governor, former United States Representative George F. Allen, and the nominee for attorney general, James S. Gilmore 3d, a Richmond-area prosecutor, both took pains to find a few kind words about him and his agenda and not to anger him or his supporters.

Context: The article noted how the resurgence of the Christian right was splitting the southern GOP between “rock hard conservatives” like Allen and Gilmore, and “diamond hard” ones like Farris, a candidate for lieutenant governor. Farris lost the general election, while Allen and Gilmore won.

Chris Christie

Date: April 27, 1995

Mention:  “‘It was really just an absolute oversight, a totally unintentional thing,’ said Freeholder Chris Christie.”

Context: Christie, who had been elected as a freeholder (essentially, a county legislator) for Morris County, New Jersey, got his first mention in the Times for defending the Board of Chosen Freeholders (the county legislature) for violating a law on holding open public meetings—something that still seems to be an issue in the state.

Lindsey Graham

Date:  June 29, 1995

Mention: "‘If you need to burn something, burn your Congressman in effigy,’ Representative Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, exhorted on the House floor with the passion that typified this culturally divisive debate. ‘But don't burn the flag.’”

Context: The freshman congressman’s first quote in the Times was from a debate on an ultimately unsuccessful effort to pass a constitutional amendment banning flag burning. It was the ’90s. 

Carly Fiorina

Date: Aug. 6, 1996

Mention: “‘We're trying to create a venture capital mentality, a Silicon Valley feel,’ said Carly Fiorina, an executive vice president for corporate operations at Lucent. ‘We're trying to bring the marketplace and the technical talent closer together.’”

Context: The future Hewlett Packard CEO was quoted in an article on the consequences of AT&T’s decision to lay of 60,000 employees and divide into several companies, including the tech-focused Lucent. It wouldn't be the last time Fiorina's name was mentioned in connection with layoffs.

Scott Walker

Date: Jan. 22, 1999

Mention: “SCOTT WALKER, Wauwatosa, Wis.”

Context: The first appearance of Walker, then a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly, was a letter to the editor by him responding to Bill Clinton’s 1999 State of the Union address. “If we cannot get a cut in our income taxes when the Government actually has a surplus, when will we get one?” he asked.

Martin O’Malley

Date: Aug. 8, 1999

Mention: “Howard P. Rawlings, the State General Assembly delegate, was determined to go forward with his role as a political kingmaker. He called on this gritty city's black majority to support the leading white mayoral contender, Martin O'Malley, a city councilman. ‘O'Malley is a new generation of white political leadership,’ Mr. Rawlings, who is black, declared after he retreated from the hooting and hollering demonstrators.”

Context: O’Malley would shock many by winning the mayor’s race in the predominantly black city after securing some key endorsements from the city’s political leaders. Part of HBO’s The Wire were loosely based on the election.

Ted Cruz

Date: Oct. 14, 2001

Mention: “Ted Cruz, 30, director of the Office of Policy Planning, Federal Trade Commission”

Context: Cruz’s first mention was a feature on five couples who had met while working on George W. Bush’s campaign. The then-director of the FTC’s Office of Policy Planning won over his future wife Heidi with nightly phone calls after he got home between 2 and 4 a.m.

Marco Rubio

Date: Oct. 31, 2006

Mention: “The incoming speaker of the House, Representative Marco Rubio of Miami, is close to Mr. Arza but has stripped him of any future leadership position and asked him to resign.” 

Context: Hialeah Rep. Rafael Arza eventually resigned after admitting to using an unspecified derogatory term for black people in a message to a fellow legislator and on several other occasions. Then Governor Jeb Bush also called for his resignation.

Rand Paul

Date: Dec. 6, 2007

Headline: Reinventing the Revolution

Mention: “For those who could not make it in person, the campaign streamed live video of the event, which included a speech by the candidate’s son, Dr. Rand Paul.”

Context: The most recent candidate to enter the public eye, Paul was first mentioned in a post on the Times’ Caucus blog covering one of his father’s presidential campaign events.