Robert Taft Jr.; U.S. Senator, Scion of Political Family
Robert Taft Jr., the reluctant heir to a political dynasty who served in the U.S. House and Senate, died Tuesday of a brain hemorrhage. He was 76.
Taft, a Republican, was the grandson of William Howard Taft, President from 1909 to 1913 and chief justice of the United States from 1921 to 1930, and the son of Robert A. Taft, also a former U.S. senator, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1952.
When his father died in office in 1953, “Young Bob” spurned entreaties to run for the Senate seat on his father’s name. He said he needed more experience and went on to serve four terms in the Ohio Legislature before becoming a congressman in 1962.
“I never tried to pattern myself after my father,” he once said.
He lost the race for a Senate seat in 1964, and after two years out of office was again elected to the U.S. House in 1966 and 1968.
In 1970, he made a second bid for the Senate, beating then-Gov. James Rhodes in the GOP primary and Democrat Howard Metzenbaum in the general election. He lost to Metzenbaum in 1976.
Both father and son were fiscal conservatives but were liberal on some issues.
In the House, Taft Jr. helped enact the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In the Senate, he helped write legislation to extend the National Labor Relations Act to health care workers. He served on the Senate Armed Services, Labor and Public Welfare, and Banking, Currency and Housing committees.
He is survived by his wife, Joan, four children and six grandchildren.