President Roosevelt returned from Africa in 1910, and immediately met with President Taft. As he bounded up the steps to the White House, TR fondly remembered his time in office, and began to wonder if he had too rashly dismissed the possibility of another term in 1904. However, it was Taft's turn now, and he was doing a mighty fine job by the looks of things (though obviously without the captivating use of the bully pulpit Teddy had so frequently employed). Taft was much more mild-mannered and easygoing than his predecessor, but TR had finally convinced himself that perhaps that was what the nation needed right now. But his meeting with Taft would change all that...
"So how are you enjoying the presidency, Bill?"
"I'm not sure that I am. I don't have the zeal and delight you do for politics, and I'm not as skilled at the art of politics as you, Ted. You know I've always preferred to be Chief Justice. I don't look forward to the prospect of another three years, let alone another term afterwards. But enough about me. How's your retirement?"
"Are you so certain? Perhaps... Well admittedly I'm not so happy in present endeavors either. And Waite isn't going to be around forever..."
"Are you suggesting what I think you are? Because I would gladly step aside for you, Ted. You are a far more skilled politician than I. If you could guarantee that you'd appoint me Chief Justice-"
"Consider it done!"
"I shall begin drawing up a speech at once!"
Taft and Roosevelt agreed that they would not announce their decision until after the midterms, otherwise they feared Republican candidates nationwide would suffer from a perceived "puppet presidency" and weakness on the part of President Taft. Republicans retained sizable majorities in both houses of Congress with TR barnstorming nationwide for Republican candidates. Several weeks after the midterms, Taft called a press conference and declared he would not seek re-election in 1912. Immediately specultion turned to Roosevelt. To avoid charges of nepotism or a puppet presidency, Roosevelt would delay his announcement for several weeks. His announcement sparked celebration and enthusiasm nationwide, however he would have a challenger: Senator Robert Lafollette of Wisconsin declared his candidacy soon after Taft's Sherman Statement. However TR would easily parry Lafollette's challenges, sweeping all the primaries save for Lafollette's home state of Wisconsin. Roosevelt easily won the nomination, and would oppose Democrat Champ Clark in the general election. Though Clark fought valiantly, in the end he could not overcome Roosevelt's immense popularity. On Election Day, Roosevelt would return for an historic third term.
Theodore Roosevelt / Charles W. Fairbanks (R): 53.7% PV; 392 EVChamp Clark / Woodrow Wilson (D): 38.9% PV; 139 EVEugene V. Debs / Emil Seidel (S): 6.7% PV; 0 EV