Such was not the case the second time around. Almost immediately after announcing his candidacy in April of '87 the whispers began and allegations surfaced that he was not exactly the ideal husband. Hart, unexpectedly on the defensive right out of the campaign gate, lost his composure and issued a dare to the media in an attempt to kill the story before it overtook his campaign: "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." Little did the former Senator from Colorado know that the Miami Herald had already done just that. On May 3, the same day his 'dare' hit the media, so did the Herald's story that they had witnessed a young woman leaving his D.C. townhouse the night before. The young woman's name was Donna Rice. The Hart campaign went into crisis mode issuing denials and long-winded excuses that sounded insincere and desperate. Hart's wife, Lee, stood by her man but it didn't matter, the damage was done.
Hart's poll numbers took a nosedive though he vowed to slog on. But on May 5 the Herald learned that Hart had taken a recent overnight sojourn to Bimini with a woman that was not his wife. They also came into possession of a photograph that would allegedly confirm it all. Hart, apparently able to finally see the writing on the wall, dropped out of the race on May 8 blaming everything on the media. On June 2, 1987 the National Enquirer published the now infamous photo of Hart in Bimini with Rice draped over him. They were there it seems to spend the night on a luxury yacht named, of all things, "Monkey Business" (you couldn't make this stuff up). Indeed, in the photo Hart is seen wearing a T-shirt with the words "Monkey Business Crew" on it.
Just like that the political landscape changed dramatically. Democrats scrambled to find another candidate they could rally behind with Michael Dukakis eventually claiming the mantle. For his part, Hart re-entered the race after laying low for about six months hoping it would all blow over. It didn't, and he withdrew again for a second and final time on March 8, 1988.
Hart's meteoric downfall would provide valuable lessons in how not to handle allegations of marital infidelity four years later to a similarly inclined Democrat presidential hopeful named Bill Clinton.
|It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.|