It seems like ages ago, but the Obama-Romney presidential race of 2012 was, at the time, considered by some as one of the nastiest presidential elections in history.
There was Vice President Joe Biden telling a crowd that then-Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney would let big banks make rules and "Unchain Wall Street. He's going to put you all back in chains." And who could forget Romney's "binders full of women" statement, or his "47 percent" statement?
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what ... who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims," Romney was secretly recorded saying at a fundraiser.
So, here we are, four years later and people are again calling this, the 2016 election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the nastiest in history.
But while Clinton calling Trump supporters a "basket of deplorables" and Trump discrediting Clinton's political career because she's a woman (he said in April, "... without the woman card, Hillary would even be a viable person to even run for a city council position.") are signs of a heated election, it's quite common.
Historically, some of the dirtiest elections happened in the 1800's
- Many of the nastiest comments in years past came from surrogates of the presidential candidates. Take the 1800 election between founding fathers John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.
James Callender, a political pamphleteer who wrote anti-Adams articles, wrote that Adams had a "hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman."Adams' camp, in return, called Jefferson, "a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father."
- The 1828 election between John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson was one for the ages. Four years prior, in the first election between the two, Jackson lost despite winning the electoral and popular votes—a first in American history.
Jackson's camp ran a campaign based on the idea that Adams should never have been president in the first place. And that was just the start. Adams later openly attacked Jackson's wife, saying she married General Jackson while still legally married to her former husband.Adams' campaign also attacked Jackson's mother, Betty, stating in a pro-Adams pamphlet, "General Jackson's mother was a common prostitute, brought to this country by the British soldiers! She afterward married a mulatto man, with whom she had several children, of which number General Jackson is one!"
- Some of the most memorable moments in the 1860 election with Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas were the debates between the two. But the orators were also known for their digs on each others stature.
Douglas, who was 5-foot-4, was often criticized by the Lincoln campaign about his height. The camp once sent out a handbill depicting Douglas as a lost child who, "Answers to the name Little Giant. Talks a great deal, very loud, always about himself."Douglas fired back calling Lincoln "the leanest, lankest, most ungainly mass of legs and arms and hatchet face ever strung a single frame."
- There was also the 1884 election between Grover Cleveland and James Blaine that led to one of the most notorious chants in political history. After the Buffalo Evening Telegraph broke a story in 1884 that Cleveland, a bachelor at the time, fathered a son with a widow named Maria Halpin, Republicans chanting at rallies, "Ma, Ma, where's my pa?"The Democrats response to the chant? "Gone to the White House, ha ha ha."