The Political Experience: Democratic Party
As an incumbent, Wilson (campaigning at top right) ran nearly unopposed in the 1916 Democratic primaries. Senator William Jennings Bryan and Senator Champ Clark were the only other possibilities championed by factions within the party; however, Bryan stepped aside early and Clark (portrait at bottom right)announced that he would not run under any circumstances if Wilson wished for reelection. Wilson actively shaped the campaign from the start; he helped to write the party platform and appointed delegates to the Democratic convention.
Democrats decided early in the campaign to focus on the liberal legislation record they achieved under Wilson's administration. The 1916 party platform endorsed rural credit legislation for farmers' benefit, adoption of national child labor laws, a living wage and workman's compensation for federal employees, a nonpartisan tariff commission, and federal aid to highway construction. Rural credits and child labor were directly addressed by Wilson's administration during the campaign: Wilson signed the Federal Farm Loan Act in July 1916, opening banks and providing low-interest loans to independent farmers. In September, Wilson signed both the Adamson Act, federally mandating an eight hour work day for first time, and the Keating-Owen Child Labor Act, prohibiting interstate commerce on goods produced by child labor. As the campaign drew to a close, Democrats increasingly relied on the peace issue, declaring that Wilson had "kept the country out of war."
By emphasizing Wilson's liberal legislation record, Democrats attempted throughout the campaign to draw Progressive votes away from the Republicans. George Creel, a public relations advisor to Wilson, penned a weekly newsletter, "The Bulletin," specifically highlighting Wilson's Progressive qualities. To win more Progressive western votes, Democrats devoted extra campaign time and money to the West and stressed the fact that the Democratic platform of 1912 had been honored by Wilson
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