NORTON, Kan. (AP) - Barack Obama has the presidency. John McCain
has a framed photograph next to one of John Kerry at a rural
northwest Kansas bank.
First State Bank's "They Also Ran" gallery, a tribute to
losing presidential candidates, added the Republican candidate's
image Tuesday to a row of black-and-white drawings and photographs
that starts with Thomas Jefferson, who lost to John Adams in 1796.
Curator Lee Ann Shearer - who is also the bookkeeper at the
Norton bank - said about 30 people showed up, sipping punch and
sampling cookies she helped bake. A few stuck around to watch Obama
become the nation's 44th president on a TV set up in the gallery.
"I got goose bumps. I'm kind of sentimental about my country.
It's history in the making," Shearer said.
The gallery now has 59 not-quite-presidential images, although
14 of the honorees did hold the office at some point.
A third-party candidate has not been enshrined since John
Anderson in 1980 because of space constraints, which are now at
their limit. With the addition of McCain, all the gallery's three
walls are filled.
"We got four years to think about it, but the bank likes it
here," Shearer said.
The gallery was started in 1965 by William Walter Rouse, bank
president at the time, after he read Irving Stone's book "They
Also Ran," about presidential campaign losers. Rouse decided that,
despite their political shortcomings, the losers deserved a shrine.
The gallery had been getting the photographs from the Library of
Congress, but that has proven expensive - about $100 each. Four
years ago, the gallery received Kerry's photograph from his
campaign. This year, the McCain photograph was found on the
Internet because pictures given by the campaign were too dark,
Norton, a town of about 3,000, is off the beaten tourist path,
about 60 miles north of Interstate 70, which bisects the state.
Shearer said the gallery, which is open during bank hours and free,
gets about 100 visitors a year.
"It's better than it was a year ago and it picks up during the
summer. We're listed in travel guides and that helps," she said.