What 'ultimate outsider' Trump has in common with past presidents
© Getty Images

Donald TrumpDonald TrumpCheney says a lot of GOP lawmakers have privately encouraged her fight against Trump Republicans criticizing Afghan refugees face risks DeVos says 'principles have been overtaken by personalities' in GOP MORE is the ultimate political outsider to become president. All other presidents either served in at least one prior elected office, the U.S. military or in another president's Cabinet.

But despite being an outsider, Trump does share some similarities with previous presidents.

James Madison

Though short in stature, Madison had a giant vision in the 1790s. He recognized that the communication methods of his day — by horseback or ship — were slow. When deciding which city should host the nation's capital, the future fourth president wrote, "If it were possible to promulgate [broadcast] laws, by some instantaneous operation, it would be of less consequence ... where the government might be placed."


Madison longed for Twitter but would have been happy with the yet-to-be invented telegraph. Trump, the soon-to-be Twitterer-in-chief, shares Madison's penchant for instantaneous operations.


Andrew Jackson

Though Jackson had held elected office as a U.S. senator from Tennessee before becoming president, like Trump he portrayed himself as an outsider championing the common man against corruption.

In running for president, Jackson said of the John Quincy Adams administration, "was there ever witnessed such a bare-face corruption in any country before?"

In his Republican convention speech, Trump took direct aim at Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats worry negative images are defining White House Heller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll MORE's email server scandal, saying that "corruption has reached a level like never before."

Jackson was tough in his attacks. In dealing with a controversy over the second Bank of the United States, Jackson said, "The bank is trying to kill me but I will kill it," which sounds like a tweet that Trump might have sent during the campaign.

Teddy Roosevelt

"My father always wanted to be the corpse at every funeral, the bride at every wedding and the baby at every christening," Alice Roosevelt, the daughter of Teddy Roosevelt, famously quipped.

Ivanka Trump might recognize shades of her father in Teddy Roosevelt's effective use of showmanship to fight corruption in the 26th president's famous quote, "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far." Teddy Roosevelt was the first president to go underwater in a submarine, the first to be featured in a movie at the theater and the first to fly in an airplane after his presidency.

Expect Trump to do as the showman Teddy Roosevelt did, but in his own way.

Franklin Roosevelt

Though raised in wealth, Franklin Roosevelt had the ability to connect with the common man and woman. He used his radio fireside chats to communicate with the American people as if they were his next-door neighbors and best friends.

Flying in his own jet and donning a baseball cap, Trump vocalized the job needs of workers at huge rallies around the country. As a real estate mogul, Trump had spent years at construction sites, which taught him how to talk and connect with the workers and laborers who now are singing "Happy Days Are Here Again" for Trump.

John Kennedy

Something that Trump has in common with Kennedy is the strong backing of his family. The Kennedys were very loyal to each other and actively campaigned in 1960 on behalf of John. The family was so prominent that the July 11, 1960 Time magazine cover featured the Kennedy family.

During a campaign debate, when Clinton was asked to name something positive about Trump, she said, "I respect his children. They are incredibly honorable and devoted." Many have spoken highly of Trump's oldest children — Donald, Eric and Ivanka Trump — who have run the family businesses and campaigned passionately for their father.

Likewise, just as Kennedy named his brother Robert as attorney general, so Trump is turning to Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump's husband, as a White House senior adviser.

Richard Nixon

Often, Trump's approach to campaigning was similar to the Nixon model, which featured strong attacks on his opponents (and earned him the nickname "Tricky Dick"). Perhaps this bold quality was something that Pat Nixon, Richard Nixon's wife, admired when she saw Trump on Phil Donahue's show decades ago.

President Nixon wrote Trump a letter telling him that Pat Nixon was impressed with him, "And she predicts that whenever you decide to run for office, you will be a winner!"

Pat Nixon was right.

Ronald Reagan

The last Republican president to win Wisconsin in the general election was Reagan in 1984. Reagan's economic message of lowering taxes and a peace-through-strength foreign policy attracted voters in the Rust Belt states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Though his attack style was more like Nixon, Trump's economic message and promising brand of "Make America Great Again" revived Reaganesque optimism and won him votes in those key places.

At 69, Reagan was the oldest man elected president. At 70, Trump now holds the record.

George Washington

As the ultimate political outsider takes the presidential oath of office, Trump has pledged to do what the first president did: reject his salary. He and Washington are the only presidents to do so.

From cameos in movies to hosting his highly rated reality TV show, Donald Trump now has the starring role on the world stage once lit up by Madison, Jackson, the Roosevelts, Kennedy, Nixon, Reagan among many others. As he takes the oath of office, may the best qualities in all of the presidents before him, from Washington to Obama, bring America success through this conglomerate president.


Jane Hampton Cook is a former White House webmaster and author of several books, including "American Phoenix," which reveals the political resurrection of John Quincy and Louisa Adams, and, most recently, "The Burning of the White House: James and Dolley Madison and the War of 1812." She is a frequent guest on the Fox News Channel and creator of revolution240.com. Follow her on Twitter @janehamptoncook.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.