Dick Gephardt

Dick Gephardt
House Minority Leader
In office
January 3, 1995  January 3, 2003
Deputy David Bonior
Nancy Pelosi
Preceded by Bob Michel
Succeeded by Nancy Pelosi
House Majority Leader
In office
June 6, 1989  January 3, 1995
Deputy Bill Gray
David Bonior
Preceded by Tom Foley
Succeeded by Dick Armey
Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus
In office
January 3, 1985  January 3, 1989
Leader Jim Wright
Preceded by Bill Gray
Succeeded by Gillis Long
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Missouri's 3rd district
In office
January 3, 1977  January 3, 2005
Preceded by Leonor Sullivan
Succeeded by Russ Carnahan
Personal details
Born Richard Andrew Gephardt
(1941-01-31) January 31, 1941
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Jane Gephardt
Alma mater Northwestern University (B.S.)
University of Michigan (J.D.)
Religion Baptist
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Air Force
Years of service 1965–1971
Unit Missouri Air National Guard

Richard Andrew "Dick" Gephardt (born January 31, 1941) is an American politician who served as a United States Representative from Missouri from 1977 to 2005. A member of the Democratic Party, he was House Majority Leader from 1989 to 1995 and Minority Leader from 1995 to 2003. He ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in 1988 and 2004. Gephardt was mentioned as a possible vice presidential nominee in 1988, 1992, 2000, 2004, and 2008.[1]

Since his retirement from politics, Gephardt has become a significant lobbyist. He founded a Washington-based public affairs firm, Gephardt Government Affairs, and an Atlanta-based labor consultancy, the Gephardt Group, as well as consulting for DLA Piper, FTI Consulting and Goldman Sachs.[2]

Early life

Gephardt was born into a family in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Loreen Estelle (née Cassell) and Louis Andrew Gephardt, a Teamster milkman; part of his ancestry is German.[3] He graduated from the former Southwest High School in 1958. Gephardt is an Eagle Scout and recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America. He earned his B.S. at Northwestern University in 1962 where he was president of Beta Theta Pi, the student senate, and his freshman class. He earned his J.D. at the University of Michigan Law School in 1965.

In 1965, he was admitted to the Missouri Bar. He then entered the Missouri Air National Guard, where he served until 1971.

He and his wife Jane have three grown children, Matt, Katie, and Chrissy. His brother, Donald L. Gephardt, is the Dean of The College of Fine and Performing Arts at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey.

Political career

Gephardt was Democratic committeeman for the 14th ward in St. Louis between 1968 and 1971, moving up to become 14th ward alderman between 1971 and 1976, as part of a group of young aldermen known informally as "The Young Turks." [4]

House of Representatives

In 1976, Gephardt was elected to Congress from the St. Louis-based 3rd District, succeeding 24-year incumbent Leonor Sullivan. He was elected 13 more times, opting not to run for reelection in 2004. For most of his Congressional career, Gephardt's National Political Director was St. Louis-based political consultant Joyce Aboussie.

1988 campaign for president

Gephardt was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 1988 presidential election. Gephardt ran hard and early in 1987–88 and finally started moving ahead in Iowa after running the "Hyundai ad" that criticized what he thought were unfair trade barriers by Korea and Japan. Gephardt won the Iowa caucuses and South Dakota primary in February while finishing a strong second in New Hampshire which made him one of the serious contenders for the nomination.[5]

His campaign ran out of money after losing badly in the March "Super Tuesday" primaries, when he won only the Missouri primary. An ad aired by the campaign of Governor Michael Dukakis focused on Gephardt's "flip-flopping" voting record, and showed a Gephardt look-alike doing forward and backward flips for the camera. Many felt that the ad killed any chance Gephardt had of winning the nomination. Gephardt dropped out after winning only 13% in Michigan, despite support from the United Auto Workers. Dukakis considered Gephardt for his running mate, but chose Texas Senator Lloyd Bentsen.

House leadership

Gephardt during the 1990s

In part due to the visibility gained from his 1988 presidential bid, Gephardt was elected majority leader by his House colleagues in June 1989, making him the second-ranking Democrat in the House, behind then-Speaker Tom Foley. Gephardt served in that position until January 1995.

After Foley was unseated in the Republican landslide of 1994 that gave the Republicans a 52-seat majority, Gephardt became the leader of the House Democrats, as minority leader, initially opposite Newt Gingrich and then, from 1999 onwards, Dennis Hastert. When Gingrich faced a coup within his own party in 1997, there was a possibility of Gephardt becoming Speaker if there had been a floor vote and he could gain the support of Republican Congressman dissatisfied with Gingrich, however Gingrich refused to resign and no vote occurred. In the 1996, 1998, and 2000 elections, Gephardt led the Democrats to gains in the House,[6] although they did not retake the majority until 2006, after Gephardt had left Congress.

Gephardt was considered a keen politician who worked hard at passing legislation, defending traditional Democratic principles, and for his home district in St. Louis. He became a prolific financial supporter of Democrats around the country in the early 1990s when he assembled a team of top fundraising staff who helped him support hundreds of candidates for local and federal office. Although Gephardt worked hard for many of President Bill Clinton's programs, he and his union supporters strongly opposed NAFTA and other "free trade" programs, so Clinton required Republican support to pass these initiatives. During the impeachment proceedings of President Clinton, Gephardt led a walkout in the House after a censure motion was ruled irrelevant to the impeachment debate.[7]

In 2000, Vice President Al Gore named Gephardt to his short list of possible vice presidential candidates. The other names on the short list were then-Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, then-North Carolina Senator John Edwards, then-Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, then-Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, and then-New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen.[8] Gore eventually selected Lieberman.

In the 2002 Congressional midterm elections, Gephardt campaigned on the issues of the economy and Social Security, however the continuing resonance of the September 11 attacks, the momentum for military action against Iraq, and President George W. Bush's popularity lead to Republican gains, with the Democrats losing four House seats. Harold Ford of Tennessee described the results an "absolute blowout" and called upon Gephardt to step down, saying that it was time for "new ideas and new faces". Due to his previous success, it has been said that Gephardt would have been easily returned as Minority Leader if he decided to stay on.[6][9][10] But Gephardt did not run for re-election as House Minority Leader, stepping down in January 2003. His leadership position was contested by the centrist Martin Frost, the outgoing Democratic Caucus Chair, and the liberal Nancy Pelosi, the Minority Whip, who was elected as Gephardt's successor. No longer having Congressional leadership duties freed up Gephardt to concentrate on a 2004 presidential bid.[11]

2004 campaign for president

Gephardt announced his second run for president on January 5, 2003. His successor as Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, endorsed his bid for president. His campaign was notable for the high-profile coming out of his daughter Chrissy in People magazine, when she was helping him on the campaign trail,[12][13] a subject they also discussed in interviews for the 2007 documentary film For the Bible Tells Me So;[14] he has continued to be an outspoken advocate for gay rights since the campaign, though still opposes same-sex marriage.[15]

Although Republicans considered him a formidable candidate, Gephardt was seen by many as too old fashioned and unelectable.[16] His fundraising efforts were behind that of former Vermont Governor Howard Dean and Senators John Kerry and John Edwards, and tied with Joe Lieberman. Furthermore, Gephardt's support of the Iraq War resolution hurt him among liberal activists. Gephardt promoted a form of universal health care, and was backed by 21 labor unions, but did not have enough support to receive the endorsement of the AFL-CIO.[16]

Throughout early 2003, Gephardt was ahead in polling for the Iowa caucus, but, by August, Dean had taken the lead; his campaign fueled by anti-war activists. The Gephardt campaign was embarrassed by an early August St Louis Post-Dispatch article that revealed that 11 of 33 "Gephardt team leaders" listed on his Iowa campaign's web site were actually supporting other candidates or neutral.

The race between Gephardt and Dean became negative, and took an ugly turn in October when a Gephardt staffer reportedly pushed a Dean staffer out of a meeting while calling him a "faggot".[17] Many press at the event claimed the Dean staffer was picking a fight and that the Gephardt staffer did not make the hurtful comment. Dean chairman Joe Trippi (who had previously worked for Gephardt in 1988) and Gephardt chairman Steve Murphy became involved in a war of words over that incident, as well as Murphy's allegation that the Dean campaign was bringing in out-of-state non-residents to participate in the caucus. In the final days of the Iowa campaign, both Dean and Gephardt faded and ultimately finished third and fourth, respectively. Gephardt ended his presidential campaign after that disappointing result.[18]

After he dropped out of the presidential race, Gephardt was mentioned as a possible running mate for John Kerry. On March 7, 2004, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, seen as a strong possibility for the position himself, endorsed Gephardt for the Vice Presidency. "I think he's the best candidate," Richardson said of Gephardt in an interview with the Associated Press. "There's a good regional balance with Kerry and Gephardt." Kerry announced on July 6, 2004, that he had chosen John Edwards as his running mate. On the same day, the New York Post published an incorrect headline stating that Gephardt had become Kerry's running mate. Shortly after this false story broke, the headline was compared to the 1948 "Dewey defeats Truman" front page of the Chicago Tribune, which incorrectly reported the presidential election results of that year. In 2007, it was revealed in the book No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner by Bob Shrum, who served as Kerry's campaign adviser in the 2004 U.S. presidential election, that Kerry wanted to choose Gephardt as his nominee for vice president but was convinced by Shrum and others to choose Edwards.

Political views

Since his election to the U.S. House in 1976, Gephardt's political views gradually moved to the left. Originally, Gephardt was strongly anti-abortion and was viewed as a social conservative. He was initially extremely critical of the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion. He wrote on the subject in 1984:

Life is the division of human cells, a process that begins with conception. The (Supreme Court's abortion) ruling was unjust, and it is incumbent on the Congress to correct the injustice... I have always been supportive of pro-life legislation. I intend to remain steadfast on this issue.... I believe that the life of the unborn should be protected at all costs.

In 1987, when Gephardt decided to run for president, he announced that he would no longer support legislation to restrict abortion rights. He told the National Right to Life Committee; "I now do not support any Constitutional amendment pertaining to the legality of abortion."

Gephardt's views on economic policy also changed over the years. He voted for Ronald Reagan's tax cuts in 1981; in the 2000s, however, he became a staunch opponent of similar tax cuts by President George W. Bush, saying that the enormous surplus created during the administration of Bill Clinton should have been spent on health care instead. Gephardt is widely viewed as an economic populist. He supports universal health coverage, fair trade, and progressive taxation. Although he once chaired the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, Gephardt in his later years in Congress distanced himself from the organization, finding his pro-labor views at odds with the DLC's pro-business positions.

On October 10, 2002, Gephardt was among the 81 House Democrats who voted in favor of authorizing the invasion of Iraq. He was an early supporter of the war, and cosponsor of the authorization resolution. However, three years later Gephardt said of his support for the war that "It was a mistake ... I was wrong."[23]

Activities since leaving Congress

On January 3, 2005, Gephardt's three-decade political career ended with the expiration of his fourteenth term in the House of Representatives. That month, Gephardt started a consulting and lobbying firm, Gephardt Group, of which Gephardt is president and CEO.[24] Gephardt also joined the international law firm DLA Piper as strategic advisor in the government affairs practice group between June 2005 and December 2009.

In his new role as a Washington lobbyist, Gephardt, on behalf of the Republic of Turkey, has been actively lobbying against the House resolution condemning the Armenian genocide of 1915 in the Ottoman Empire. While supportive of the resolution while in Congress, he now contends that facts need to be better known before any position is taken over this historical controversy.[25]

Gephardt served on the board of directors of the Embarq Corporation from June 2007[26] to July 1, 2009, when he became a member of the board of directors of CenturyLink, Embarq's successor corporation.[27] Gephardt also currently serves as a director of Centene Corporation, Ford Motor Company, Spirit Aerosystems Holdings, Inc., and United States Steel Corporation.[27] He joined the Ford's board in 2009.[28]

In July 2007, Gephardt endorsed Hillary Clinton's campaign for president, leading some to speculate that he was interested in running for vice president in 2008. DLA Piper become a major donor to Clinton's campaign, donating about $190,000.[29] Gephardt's name was mentioned by the media during the summer of 2008 as a possible vice presidential choice for eventual nominee Senator Barack Obama.

A collection of Gephardt's congressional documents, dating from 1994 to 2004, was processed from 2006 to 2007 by the Missouri Historical Society for academic use, with a grant through the Institute of Museum and Library Services.[30] In 2005, Washington University in St. Louis inaugurated the Richard A. Gephardt Institute of Public Service, which promotes volunteerism and community activism. Since 2005, Gephardt has been a consultant to Goldman Sachs and DLA Piper.[2] Since 2007 he has been a consultant to FTI Consulting.[2]

Since 2007, Gephardt began serving on the advisory board of the Extend Health insurance company, and then became a member of its board of directors. In 2009, Gephardt advised UnitedHealth Group, one of America's largest private insurers, in waging a strong campaign against a public option for national health care.[31]

In 2010, Gephardt was elected chair of the Board of Trustees of The Scripps Research Institute, a nonprofit institute focusing on biomedical research.[32]

Gephardt has also been significantly involved with the pharmaceutical industry. In addition to a large lobbying contract with the Medicines Company,[33] Gephardt serves as chair of the Council for American Medical Innovation (CAMI), formed by and affiliated with PhRMA. In this capacity he hired his own firm to lobby for the organization, to push to extend patents and block generic drugs from the market.[34]

Gephardt has also served as a lobbyist for Boeing.[35] He is a labor consultant for Spirit Aerosystems and sits on its board of directors.[36] In these roles, Gephardt has presided over an aggressive anti-union campaign that has bewildered many of his traditional political allies. In July 2011, Spirit Aerosystems walked out of negotiations with the union that represents its engineering, technical and professional workforce.[37] The union subsequently voted the company's last contract offer receiving a 96.5% rejection vote. The company did not change its contract offer significantly after this rejection and relations with its workforce have been contentious ever since. With negotiations at a standstill, production schedules for 2011 and 2012 are threatened.[38][39]



  1. "GOP Envisions Gephardt as Possible Obama Running Mate". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 2009-08-23.
  2. 1 2 3 "Richard Gephardt". Forbes. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  3. "Ancestry of Dick Gephardt". Wargs.com. Retrieved 2009-08-23.
  4. Kindleberger, Charles (2007). "Chapter 5: Planning Since the 1970s in the City of St. Louis". In Tranel, Mark. St. Louis Plans: The Ideal and the Real St. Louis. Missouri Historical Society Press. p. 151. ISBN 978-1883982614.
  5. Risen, James (March 2, 1988). "But It Is Called Oversimplified : 'Hyundai' TV Ad Boosts Gephardt". Los Angeles Times.
  6. 1 2 "AllPolitics Clinton, Gephardt Share Welfare Event Stage". CNN. August 12, 1997.
  7. "Clinton impeached". BBC News. December 19, 1998.
  8. "Gore Down To Short List". ABC News. August 3, 2000. Retrieved August 1, 2015.
  9. "Dick Gephardt: Home issue campaigner". BBC News. November 7, 2002.
  10. "Top Democrat leader resigns". BBC News. November 7, 2002.
  11. Anderson, Nick (November 7, 2002). "Election 2002 / NATIONAL RESULTS; Gephardt to Leave Leadership Post; Resigning as minority chief of the House could free the Democrat for a presidential bid".
  12. No Secrets Archived September 21, 2016, at the Wayback Machine., people, June 2, 2003
  13. Gay Daughter Joins Gephardt Campaign Archived August 25, 2016, at the Wayback Machine., ABC News, June 9, 2003
  14. Chrissy and Dick Gephardt appear on CNN to promote new film, For The Bible Tells Me So Archived March 3, 2016, at the Wayback Machine., PageOneQ, October 16, 2007
  15. Home State Record: Dick Gephardt, New Hampshire Public Radio, December 30, 2003
  16. 1 2 Swarns, Rachel L. (January 20, 2004). "THE 2004 CAMPAIGN: THE MISSOURI CONGRESSMAN; Gephardt's Poignant Echo at the Site of His 1988 Victory". The New York Times.
  17. "An unlikely bigfoot". Boston Phoenix. Retrieved 2009-08-23.
  18. "Gephardt Ends Bid for White House". Washington Post. 21 January 2004. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  19. "MO US President - D Primary Race - Feb 3, 2004". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2009-08-23.
  20. "CA US President - D Primary Race - Mar 2, 2004". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2009-08-23.
  21. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 "Profile of Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-MO)". Politics1. Archived from the original on April 22, 2008. Retrieved 2009-08-23.
  22. "Candidate - David R. Obey". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2009-08-23.
  23. "The Next Hurrah: Gephardt on Iraq: "I was wrong"". Thenexthurrah.typepad.com. 2005-10-17. Retrieved 2009-08-23.
  24. "Gephardt Group (2008)". Gephardt Group. Retrieved 2010-05-24.
  25. "The New Republic". Armeniapedia.org. Retrieved 2009-08-23.
  26. "News Release | EMBARQ". Investors.embarq.com. 2007-07-01. Retrieved 2009-08-23.
  27. Jack Stack (May 1, 2010). "What Does Dick Gephardt Know About Management?". New York Times.
  28. Morain, Dan (2007-07-17). "He backs Clinton; her backers help him". Latimes.com. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  29. "Earmarks" (PDF). Earmarks.omb.gov. 2010-04-13. Retrieved 2010-05-24.
  30. "The Nation Magazine". The Nation Company, L.P. September 30, 2009. Retrieved October 13, 2009.
  31. "Business Executive and Former U.S. House Leader Richard A. Gephardt Elected to Lead Scripps Research Institute Board of Trustees" "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2012-12-27.
  32. Sam Stein (September 24, 2009). "Gephardt: The Public Option Is "Not Essential," Trigger Could Work". Huffington Post.
  33. Sebastian Jones (October 19, 2009). "Dick Gephardt's Spectacular Sellout". The Nation magazine.
  34. Carney, Timothy (2011-02-24) Who were Boeing's lobbyists?, Washington Examiner
  35. "Richard A. Gephardt Joins Onex Team" Archived October 3, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., Spirit Aero news release 2005-04-29 (PDF)
  36. SPEEA Archived October 27, 2016, at the Wayback Machine., SPEEA
  37. SPEEA Members Reject Spirit Contract Offer Archived September 26, 2013, at the Wayback Machine., Wichita Eagle
  38. Work To Rule At Spirit Disputed Archived October 16, 2015, at the Wayback Machine., Wichita Business Journal
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Leonor Sullivan
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Missouri's 3rd congressional district

Succeeded by
Russ Carnahan
Preceded by
Tom Foley
House Majority Leader
Succeeded by
Dick Armey
Preceded by
Bob Michel
House Minority Leader
Succeeded by
Nancy Pelosi
Party political offices
Preceded by
Bill Gray
Chairperson of the House Democratic Caucus
Succeeded by
Gillis Long
New office Chairperson of the Democratic Leadership Council
Succeeded by
Chuck Robb
Preceded by
Tom Foley
House Democratic Leader
Succeeded by
Nancy Pelosi
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