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Governors for President

Lehigh political scientist Saladin Ambar discusses his latest book and how its themes bear on the GOP primary and the upcoming general election.

In his latest book, Saladin Ambar, assistant professor of political science at Lehigh University, explicitly credits governors with transforming the way we think presidents should act.

"How Governors Built the Modern American Presidency" uncovers neglected aspects of the evolution of the nation's executive branch, placing American governors at the heart of what the presidency has become.

Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin D. Roosevelt demonstrate how gubernatorial experience made the difference; Wisconsin’s Bob La Follette and California’s Hiram Johnson demonstrate how these governors reshaped the presidency through their activism. Ambar explodes the idea that the modern presidency began after 1945, instead placing its origins squarely in the Progressive Era.

In the following interview, Ambar discusses his book and how its themes bear on the GOP primary and upcoming general election. The rise of executive power is evident in the recent parade of ex-governors inhabiting the White House, including Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, he says. And now, the GOP's front runner, Mitt Romney, is a former governor of Massachusetts. Ambar shares why gubernatiorial experience is what Americans want and how that will play into their voting decisions come November.

Story by Sally Gilotti

Posted on Thursday, April 05, 2012

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