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Adamses and Bushes, U.S. political families

WASHINGTON, Nov. 2 (Reuters) - If elected, George W. Bush would be only the second president to successfully follow his father to the White House.

The eldest son of former President George Bush hopes to emulate the 1824 election of John Quincy Adams, son of former President John Adams.

Like Bush, Adams' father was elected president after two terms as vice president and failed in his bid for re-election.

But despite such surface similarities, the Adams family may not provide an ideal dynastic model.

"John Quincy Adams was somebody who was carefully nurtured by his father," said Stephen Hess, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of "America's Political Dynasties."

He said George W. Bush "hasn't had a long track record in public life the way John Quincy paralleled or followed in his father's footsteps."

Considered a learned president, Adams spent most of his life in government, serving in the U.S. Senate and as secretary of state, while Bush entered politics relatively late in life.

"I don't sense that he felt a great political calling," Hess said.

Known as "Old Man Eloquent" to friends -- and the "madman from Massachusetts" to enemies -- Adams bested a field of four in 1824, winning a presidential election that was eventually decided by the House of Representatives.

But winning that way made governing difficult and Adams had a relatively ineffectual presidency.

Running again in 1828, Adams was tarred by opponents as a member of the elite class who did not represent the true interests of the American citizenry and he lost to Andrew Jackson.

Adams was returned to Washington within two years when Massachusetts voters elected him to the House, where he served until his death in 1848.

Bush emerged as the Republican standard-bearer within a few years of his father's defeat, while Adams waited 24 years to run for president -- doing so as a member of the party that in 1800 vanquished his father from the White House.

"I don't think there is any payback element with John Quincy, at least as much as there may be with the Bushes," Lynn Parsons, a history professor at the State University of New York at Brockport and author a recent Adams biography, said in an interview.

Adams considered the presidency an "entitlement," a logical progression in a career that included time as a senator, diplomat and secretary of state, Parsons said.

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 



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Thursday, November 2, 2000


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