February 16, 2007
The Presidential Voice,Part Four: The Birth of America
Though the constitution says that the President must be a natural born citizen of the United States, the first several presidents were well along in life when the birth of the nation took place, but they have all been born on what would ultimately become U.S. soil. The nine candidates that I've been tracking in the race for the White House in 2008 have some potential for some firsts. John McCain was born on a Naval Base in the Panama Canal region and if elected would be the first president to be born outside of the continental U.S.; also his home state of Arizona has never been represented in the Oval Office. Speaking of the continental U.S., Barack Obama was born on Hawaii (yes, it was already a state at the time of his birth) and would be the first U.S. President to be born on Hawaii, though his residence and constituency is Illinois and Lincoln was born and raised there, and Ronald Reagan was born in Illinois though represented California. Hillary Clinton was born in Illinois, established residency in Arkansas, but ultimately wound up in New York and New York has produced both President Roosevelt's, Van Buren and Grover Cleveland (though born in New Jersey). Sam Brownback would be the first president to be born and represent Kansas (Eisenhower lived there in his childhood, but was elected representing New York); Kansas has been the representative state of two defeated presidential candidates in Bob Dole (1996-Clinton) and Alf Landon (1936-Roosevelt). Mike Huckabee could follow Bill Clinton's lead being born in the same town in Arkansas and being governor of that same state. Mitt Romney's dad endured some buzz because he was born in Mexico (though his parents were U.S. citizens) when he ran for President, but one of his Republican opponents Barry Goldwater was born in Arizona before it was a state. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts was born in Michigan, so no controversy there as Gerald Ford represented Michigan when he was president. Rudy Guiliani was born and raised in New York and still represents New York in his run for the White House. John Edwards was born in South Carolina but represents North Carolina, Andrew Jackson was born in South Carolina but represented Tennessee while James K. Polk and Andrew Johnson both were born in North Carolina but represented Tennessee. No president has represented North Carolina. Joseph Biden of Delaware would be the first president to represent that state, though he shares his birth state of Pennsylvania with James Buchanan. We're a long way off from having all 50 states represented in the White House, we have the distinct possibility of a new state to be added to the list.