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The Contenders is a 14-program series that was produced and aired by C-SPAN in the fall of 2011. It looked at the lives and careers of 14 candidates for the presidency of the United States who were determined to have made significant impacts on U.S. politics despite not having won the presidency.[1] Most episodes were broadcast from a location of significance to the person being profiled, and featured interviews and discussion with a variety of experts.

The Contenders
Contenders logo.png
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes14
Executive producer(s)Mark Farkas
Original networkC-SPAN
Original releaseSeptember 9 –
December 9, 2011
External links

Selection of subjectsEdit

The list of persons profiled was selected by C-SPAN producer Mark Farkas and historian Richard Norton Smith, who was a consultant to the series.[2] Smith described the objective of their efforts as follows:

To give viewers an alternative school of American political history, in particular. It has famously been observed that the winners write the history books, and there's a lot of truth to that. But that means that we are deprived of... It's like the dark side of the moon. There's another whole story line... and even more, on the biographical level, there are 14 people in this series, many of whom I guarantee viewers may never have heard of. And all of whom I can pretty much guarantee they will find interesting to fascinating, and certainly surprising.[2]


Original air date
(Links to video of program)
Featured candidate Featured location Interviewees
September 2, 2011 Historians' Preview N/A Richard Norton Smith, Jean Baker, Carl Cannon
September 9, 2011 Henry Clay The Ashland Estate,
Lexington, Kentucky
James C. Klotter, Avery Malone, Alicestyne Turley
September 16, 2011 James G. Blaine The Blaine House,
Augusta, Maine
Elizabeth D. Leonard, Paul LePage, Neil Rolde, Earle G. Shettleworth Jr.
September 23, 2011 William Jennings Bryan Fairview,
Lincoln, Nebraska
Michael Kazin, L. Robert Puschendorf, William G. Thomas III
September 30, 2011 Eugene Debs Eugene V. Debs Home,
Terre Haute, Indiana
Ernest Freeberg, Lisa A.W. Phillips, Bernie Sanders
October 7, 2011 Charles Evans Hughes United States Supreme Court Building,
Washington, D.C.
Paul D. Clement, Bernadette A. Meyler, Robb W. Patryk, David Pietrusza
October 14, 2011 Al Smith Chamber of the New York State Assembly,
New York State Capitol,
Albany, New York
John J. Evers, Beverly Gage, Sheldon Silver, Alfred E. Smith IV
October 21, 2011 Wendell Willkie Rush County Historical Society,
Rushville, Indiana
Richard Lugar, James H. Madison, Amity Shlaes, David Willkie
October 28, 2011 Thomas E. Dewey The Roosevelt Hotel,
New York City, New York
Thomas E. Dewey Jr., Richard Norton Smith
November 4, 2011 Adlai Stevenson Stevenson Family Home,
Libertyville, Illinois
Newton N. Minow, Richard Norton Smith, Adlai E. Stevenson III
November 11, 2011 Barry Goldwater The Goldwater Institute,
Phoenix, Arizona
Bill McCune, Darcy Olsen, Rick Perlstein,
November 18, 2011 Hubert Humphrey The Minnesota History Center,
St. Paul, Minnesota
Mick Caouette, Juan Williams
November 25, 2011 George Wallace The Alabama Governor's Mansion,
Montgomery, Alabama
Dan T. Carter, Peggy Wallace Kennedy, Joe L. Reed
December 2, 2011 George McGovern McGovern Center for Leadership,
Dakota Wesleyan University,
Mitchell, South Dakota
Scott Clark Farris, Jules Witcover (Note: McGovern himself had been scheduled to be part of this program, but fell and injured himself on the way into the building where the program was being filmed.[3])
December 9, 2011 Ross Perot Washington, D.C. Carolyn Barta, Douglas Brinkley
December 16, 2011 Historians' Retrospective N/A Richard Norton Smith, Jean Baker, Carl Cannon

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "'The Contenders' a Nod to Failed Candidates Who Still Changed History". PBS Newshour. 1 September 2011. Archived from the original on 2 September 2011. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  2. ^ a b "The Contenders, Historians Preview". C-SPAN. 2 September 2011. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  3. ^ Friedman, Chandler (2 December 2011). "George McGovern taken to South Dakota hospital after fall". CNN. Retrieved 7 March 2016.

External linksEdit