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In the first two months of 1980, there were a couple of episodes that made him stand out.
In one, at a debate in Des Moines, Iowa, he urged support of a grain embargo against the Soviet Union to protest their recent invasion of Afghanistan.
This plan did not meet with much initial success in 1979, as Anderson got very little attention as he attempted to gain traction in a race loaded with other heavyweight candidates, including Jimmy Carter, Ted Kennedy, Jerry Brown, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, John Connally, Howard Baker, and Robert Dole.
Once it became clear that he would not win and the polls showed that the major party candidates were in a tight race, Anderson was abandoned by his supporters and limped to the finish with 7% of the vote.
His poor finish greatly undermined the importance of this effort.
He set out to run a different kind of political campaign where he would speak with absolute specificity on the problems facing the nation and offer substantive proposals for dealing with those issues.
More than anything, what mattered to him was setting an example of how candidates ought to run for office: rejecting quick-fix solutions, being brutally honest with voters about where a candidate stood on issues, focusing on policy instead of image, and not sugar-coating the problems that faced the nation.
He did this because he was disturbed by many of the same trends in American politics that still exist today: the proliferation of special interests, gridlock and intransigence on Capitol Hill, and the unwillingness of politicians to speak honestly about the problems that America faced.
He decided it was worth giving up his political career to make a statement about American politics.None of the other candidates on the stage would challenge the hostile crowd and the media covering this event gave this difference a lot of attention.Anderson then performed well beyond expectations in the first round of the GOP primaries.He had never won an election outside his House district, was a moderate in an increasingly conservative party, and did not seem to have the clout to command significant national television exposure.In 1979, he decided to give up his relatively safe seat in the House, his position in the Republican congressional leadership, and a likely nomination for a US Senate seat to run what every expert considered an all but hopeless race for the GOP presidential nomination.It was a historic moment in the history of non-major party presidential campaigns for the presidency.