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Putting Obama's 'decisive' victories in historical context

To the editor: In arguing that Hillary Rodham Clinton should run “a liberal campaign,” Jamelle Bouie skews electoral history. ("The changing face of centrist campaigning," op-ed, June 13)

It's true that Bill Clinton “never won a majority of the vote,” but that's because there was a third-party candidate (Ross Perot) in 1992 and 1996, not because of his “centrist message.” Perot ran on a conservative, debt-reduction platform.

Despite that, in 1996, Clinton routed Bob Dole by 49.2% to 40.7%. This was more than twice the popular-vote margin by which President Obama defeated Republican Mitt Romney in his 2012 reelection campaign.

Moreover, Obama's election victory in 2008 (52.9% to 45.7%) was modest considering the GOP's stewardship over our worst economic collapse since 1932 and the senseless war in Iraq. To provide some real context, in 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt smashed GOP incumbent Herbert Hoover, 57.4% to 39.7%.

History shows that, in 2000, it was liberal “purism” that prompted 97,000 Floridians to vote for Ralph Nader instead of Al Gore, who lost to Bush there by fewer than 600 votes.

We all know the dire consequences of that.

Mark E. Kalmansohn, Santa Monica

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