James M. Cox

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James Middleton Cox (1870-1957) was the Democrat nominee for president in 1920. He had served previously as governor of Ohio, and as member of the House of Representatives.

Cox was born in Butler County, Ohio, and held a wide variety of jobs in teaching and the newspaper business before turning to political office. He was first elected to the House in 1908, where he served until 1913, resigning because he had won the Ohio governorship in 1912. Cox was re-electeed in 1916.

Cox had strongly supported Woodrow Wilson for president in both 1912 and 1916, and backed Wilson's idea for the League of Nations. In 1920, he was nominated by his party for president, running against fellow Ohioan Warren Harding. Cox's running mate was Franklin D. Roosevelt, then known as Wilson's Assisstant Secretary of the Navy.

In the campaign, Cox assailed Harding as a lightweight who spoke in meaningless platitudes. Cox's most famous quote described one Harding speech as "an army of pompous phrases, marching over the landscape in search of an idea." But Cox went down to a disasterous defeat, losing the popular vote 60-34, and losing in the electoral college 404-127. Cox became the first Democrat since 1876 to lose a southern state (Tennessee). In analyzing his defeat, the New York World newspaper speculated that weariness for international affairs and a reaction against the modernism of the machine age had led to the defeat of the progressive Cox.

Cox returned to the publishing business after his defeat, managing the Dayton Daily News for some time before his death in 1957.

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