Gary Hart Blows His Shot at the Presidency

This picture of Gary Hart with 29-year-old model Donna Rice, taken aboard his yacht, Monkey Business, in 1987, helped sink the former senator's political career.

In 1987, Gary Hart had a very good chance of becoming the next president. Following two successful terms in the US Senate, Hart was the clear frontrunner going into the Democratic primaries, while the Republican party had yet to put its weight behind George H.W. Bush, Pat Robertson, or Bob Dole.

Follow me around. I don't care. I'm serious. If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead. They'll be very bored. - Gary Hart to the NY Times, 1987
Hart's campaign was cranking along on all cylinders until, in the lead-up to the primaries, rumors started to swirl that he had been cheating on his wife. When a New York Times reporter asked Hart about the rumors, the former Senator from Colorado unwisely dared journalists to dig up the dirt.

"Follow me around," he said "I don't care. I'm serious. If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead. They'll be very bored."

Unfortunately for Hart, the Miami Herald had been doing just that for weeks, documenting his meetings with a pretty young blonde named Donna Rice. The Herald broke the story the same day the Times ran Hart's double dog dare to reporters, adding insult to injury.

Gary Hart in 2008
Hart quit his campaign a week after the story broke in May of 1987, but made a half-hearted attempt to reenter the race in December. He ultimately rallied 4,888 votes in the New Hampshire primary (roughly 4%) and quit for good after a dismal showing in the 1988 Super Tuesday elections. Hart still actively participates in beltway politics, though his own political career never recovered.

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