Teddy Roosevelt did not win re-election in 1904 because he was a Rough Rider in the Spanish-American War. That war's political popularity had faded as the details of the Americans' actual fighting emerged. The woefulness of the Army's weapons and its rifle, in particular, had become a technical scandal. The Krag-Jorgensen's weak cartridge and stupid locking system had been an outright embarrassment compared to the Spaniard's 1893 Mauser rifle, with its higher muzzle velocity, greater accuracy, and ability to be modified for clip-loading.

What won it for Roosevelt was John Hay's rabble-rousing cable to the American consul-general in Tangier, Morocco: "We want Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead. We desire least possible complications with Morocco or other Powers." Joe Cannon, the Speaker of the House, read the first sentence of the cable to the Republican National Convention, which was grudgingly accepting Roosevelt as its nominee. The convention went wild and "fighting Teddy" became the image for the campaign. The facts of the matter were, as always, rather different than what appeared in "the news".


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