Richard Andrew Gephardt (born January 31, 1941) served as a U.S. Representative from Missouri from 1977 until January 3, 2005.
Gephardt was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and graduated from South West High School in 1958. He earned his B.S. at Northwestern University in 1962 and 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 was Democratic committeeman in St. Louis between 1968 and 1971, moving up to alderman 1971-1976. He was elected as a Democrat to the 95th succeeding Congress, and was repeatedly re-elected until he chose to not to run for re-election in 2004.
He was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988. He was majority leader from 1989 to 1994 (101st through 103rd Congresses) and minority leader from 1995 to 2003 (104th through 107th Congresses). Gephardt's successor as House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, endorsed his bid for president.
He announced his second run for President on January 5, 2003, dropping out a year later after his fourth-place finish in the Iowa caucus.
Although he dropped out of the running for President, 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." Nevertheless, Kerry announced that he had chosen John Edwards as his running mate on July 6, 2004. (Although on that 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 falsely reported the presidential election results of that year.
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. His views on abortion shifted from pro-life to pro-choice in late 1986.
- "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." Gephardt wrote in 1984, "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."
However in 1987 when Gephardt decided to run for president, he announced that he had discontinued his support for pro-life legislation. He informed 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 have also changed. He voted for President Reagan's tax cuts in 1981, though in the 2000s, 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.
On January 3, 2005, Gephardt's three-decade political career came to an end, with the expiration of his term in the House of Representatives.
- "I never felt it was inevitable that we had to go to war." — on the invasion of Iraq.
- "It’s a great day for our troops, for this administration, for the people of Iraq. My hope is that this will decrease the violence our troops will have to face." — on the capture of Saddam Hussein.
- "I want to say a special thank you to every member of every labor union in this country who has stood by my side ... throughout my career. Your fight is my fight, and it will always be that way." — conceding defeat after winning no delegates in the Iowa Democratic caucus of 2004.
- "Politics is a substitute for violence." — at the 2004 Missouri Democratic Convention
- Post-Dispatch coverage of the 2004 Run for the White House (http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/special/gephardt.nsf/front)