Jack on the Campaign Trail
With the presidential campaign coming to a close, and with Ohio being the central battleground, it should come as no surprise that both sides are bringing out their biggest guns in the final day.
For Mitt Romney, having one of Ohio’s greatest sporting icons on the stump could make the difference.
Jack Nicklaus spoke to an overflow crowd of Cincinnati Bengals tailgaters in the parking lot of Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday. And today (Monday) the Golden Bear, along with Olympic figure skater and Ohio native Scott Hamilton, are on a six-city campaign swing throughout the state, finishing in Jack’s hometown of Dublin, outside Columbus.
"I just don’t like the direction we’re heading," Jack told the L.A. Times when asked why he was so active in this campaign after never getting involved in politics before. "I don’t like the divide we have in the country. I’ve never seen our country get split like this, and I really dislike that."
He also referenced his father and grandfather. Jack’s grandfather had been a railroad worker and had implored his son, Jack’s father, Charlie, to work hard and strive for a better life. Charlie Nicklaus became a successful pharmacist, and his son became the greatest golfer of all time.
"They all had the American dream, the ability to be able to have their own businesses, the same as I’ve done," Nicklaus said to the Times. "I don’t see our kids, our grandkids, having that ability under what’s happening with the government. I want them to have that opportunity. This is more about my family than anything else."
This is the first, and perhaps the last time Jack will be active in presidential politics. And he is taking on this task with the same focused determination that won 18 professional major championships.
He also regrets not getting involved 36 years ago when his friend, President Gerald Ford, asked for his help.
"I said, 'Mr. President, I’ve always stayed away from politics. I deal with people on both sides.' And he respected that and he never had an issue with that, and we played a lot of golf after that. But I didn’t help him and he lost Ohio by several thousand votes. Had he won Ohio, he would have won the election. I’ve always had big regrets about that."
Jack has no regrets this time. If Mitt Romney wins Ohio – and the polls are very close – he will owe a great deal of the efforts of our game’s greatest ambassador.