Herman Cain’s rise to front-runner status in the race for the Republican presidential nomination is facing a few obstacles as of late.
But Cain’s seemingly out-of-nowhere leap to the top of the GOP heap prompts us to note that it’s been quite some time since a president has sported a mustache, as the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO proudly does.
In fact, it’s been about a century. The last president to don a ‘stache was William Taft, who lost his reelection bid in 1912. (To find the last bearded president, you have to go back to Benjamin Harrison, who exited the White House in 1893.)
After Taft, the presidential mostaccio has fared poorly at the polls, with Republican Thomas Dewey in 1948 the last major-party nominee to carry a hairy upper lip.
Dewey lost in an ironic stunner to Harry Truman — who true to his name grew the occasional temporary stubble when safely away from Washington.
Since Dewey’s loss in ’48, the race for the White House has been devoid of any champion for facial hair (aside from Gerald Ford’s flirtations with sideburns).
Cain’s “smoking-ad” sideshow and allegations of past impropriety may prove the undoing of his nascent front-runner position. But we are left to wonder, is America ready for a mustache back in the White House?
And while we’re pondering presidential whiskers, we’ve retrofitted some White House portraits to see how the 10 most recent presidents would have looked with some ‘stache action. Would you have voted for these commanders in chief hailing from an alternate timeline where most gentlemen still groom mustachios?