ARTHUR BLESSITT FOR PRESIDENT
However this may sound, it is true. From October 8, 1974, through the Florida Presidential Primary on Tuesday, March 9, 1976, I ran for President of the United States of America.
After almost two years of carrying the cross across the Continent of Africa, I returned to the United States for a walk that would prove to be a struggle and humiliation unequal to anything experienced before. If I had known the future I would have trembled, but since I only know the Lord, I thrill.
I did not accept any campaign money from anyone. We lived from my preaching contributions. A van was donated to me; actually it was an old 1958 bread truck. It looked awful.
The Lord would not even allow me to have a driver. I had to walk all day, then hitchhike back to the van and then drive to where I had left the cross. I would hide the cross in some bushes beside the road at around 5:00 p.m. Can you imagine the depth of humiliation that I had to face?
Sometimes it would be raining and I would be dirty, wet and tired after a 20-mile walk, talking and praying with people along the way. Sometimes I would to stand for an hour or two before I would get a ride. I would get in a car, dripping wet. “Where are you going?” I’d be asked. “Oh, about 20 miles up the road.” “What ever are you doing out here in this bad weather?”
Sometimes I didn’t want to tell about being a candidate for president.
“Lord,” I would pray. “Let me witness to them about you. I don’t mind sharing about the cross, but if I tell them I’m running for president they’ll think I’m crazy!
“Tell them, ” the Lord would say.
“Oh, Jesus, why do You make me say this? Why do You crush me, humiliate me? You know what they will think. This one vote won’t get me elected and they wouldn’t vote for a wet, poor, cross-carrying hitchhiker anyway. Why do You make me do this? You won’t let me take money or even get a driver for my van. I can’t win this way. But you make me go on, crushing me, break- ing me. But, oh, Lord Jesus, I love You. Thy will be done. If I must be a fool, I am delighted to be Your fool.”
“Sir, I’m carrying a 12 foot cross around the world. I have been walking since 1969. I’ve just gotten back from Africa where God called me to run for president. I walk all day and hitchhike back to my van and then drive home. Jesus loves you, and it is such a joy to follow Him.”
“You’re running for …?”… President.” “President of what…?”
“…Of the United States! I’m on the ballot. One of 12 candidates in Florida, ”
What a thrill for God to work in my heart. He was setting me free, humbling me so He could exalt Himself and make me into a better man.
My name was on the ballot in the first two presidential primaries in the states of New Hampshire and Florida.
I got the required signatures in New Hampshire. In Florida I had
to appear in person before an election committee. They only
wanted viable candidates on the Florida ballot. They voted to include me on the ballot.
I carried the cross was carried around both states, and the reception of the people was powerful. They loved me, fed me, and helped me. I spoke on college campuses, in shopping centers, senior citizen’s homes and in private homes. The local newspapers, radio and television were very open and good to me. The national press was a disaster.
My desire was to face the other candidates. I wanted to force the other candidates to speak about their personal faith or lack of it. I spoke with Jimmy Carter twice and finally he announced that he is a born again believer in Jesus. But it must be remembered that it was only after the first two primaries that he made his famous statement.
The main stumbling blocks were in Florida and New Hampshire where the candidates for president had their debates. Not all candidates that qualified for the ballots were able to appear, only candidates that the national news media considered the major contenders could participate in the debates.
In Florida, 12 candidates were allowed on the ballot for the Democratic primary in the race against Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan . Only one candidate was not allowed to appear in the debate, Arthur Blessitt.
As the public watched the debate in Florida, the voters had to consider that I was not at all important or I would have been in the debate. This was discrimination and effectively eliminated statewide support. The same was true for the debate in New Hampshire.
It is so strange that, as I ran for president, I got more news coverage overseas and in Canada than I did in the United States.
I still believe I had the best domestic and foreign policies platform.
A mandatory balanced budget except in time of war;
A guaranteed minimum national income on a cash basis with the recipient having to work four days a week in order to receive it. The recipient free to seek other employment on the fifth day; all must work except in cases of handicap, elderly or single women with children.
A national health insurance program; a flat percentage tax on income with basically no deductions, even for religious and charitable purposes, like a flat ten percent or 15 percent of all income over a certain minimum amount. This would eliminate all tax attorneys, tax consultants, tax problems, tax loopholes. Depending on how much one made, a percentage would be paid and the rest to do with as you pleased.
On foreign policy:
We should give aid to foreign countries in the form of U.S. made products, not cash or grants to corrupt governments, but material things like fertilizer, tractors, horse feed, malaria tablets, hospital supplies, and the like.
I have spent a lot of time in Western Europe and these countries are collectively as strong as the United States, so I favored withdrawal of our troops to encourage these nations to provide for themselves.
Any time American troops are committed in active combat overseas, the U.S. Congress must, on a rotating system, send one fourth of the members at a time to serve overseas in front line combat. The same would apply to the president and vice president on a rotating basis at least once a year. This would eliminate political wars, as those who send the troops would also be going with them. What is worth voting for is worth dying for.
As you can see, I have political views also. The death note to my campaign was signaled by the national news media. By ignoring me in the first primary, the voting public who wanted to vote for me was discouraged, as I was never mentioned at all.
In Concord, New Hampshire, shortly before the election, I was walking the streets with Gina and Joel, two of my children. We were passing out campaign material and I was carrying the cross. Two policemen in a patrol car arrested me on the street “for soliciting money.” I never solicited money, had no campaign fund, and not one person could be found that said I asked for money. However, all other candidates did ask for money, but they were never bothered.
The police threw my cross onto the street and took me to the station, but left my two small children on the street alone. I was in jail for three days because it was Friday and I had to wait until Monday to appear in court. Of course, the judge threw the case out of court … the arrest was invalid. The arresting officers were lectured on their stupidity. Nevertheless, it shows how we were constantly attacked.
Every effort was made to force me to withdraw from the presidential race. Twice as I carried the cross people shot at me;
one time with a shotgun, and once with a pistol. Once a man waved a gun in my face. There were all kinds of pressure to convince me to stop.
We rented a big banquet hall at the New Hampshire Highway Motel where about 400 of our supporters gathered to hear the returns of the first primary vote.
The media did not even report my votes in New Hampshire the night of the election. This is fact.
This is not Russia, but the United States of America. As the crowd of hundreds waited in the banquet hall and the entire nation was watching the vote, wondering which candidate would win, which candidate is on the rise, the New Hampshire vote began to be counted. Time passed and the candidates’ votes were shown on TV, except the votes for Arthur Blessitt.
The hundreds of people with me were crushed. Many were crying, as their votes were not counted on election night in the news broadcast. Now this is the truth.
In New Hampshire there is one central place where all the votes were coming in and being counted. Each news service used this as the pool for their vote count. Jim McPheeters, my dearest friend and helper and I went there. We were not allowed in, but were told by the election workers and all the news networks representatives that they were only reporting the votes of the major candidates on television. The minor ones are not even being tallied until later for public distribution. The results that were televised not once mentioned that I ran or received one vote.
The media reported the votes of Kennedy even though he wasn’t on the ballot. But with my name on the ballot and receiving 2% of the votes, I was never mentioned.
The votes of my supporters were disenfranchised, the impact lost and all those in Florida who were to vote in two weeks and watched New Hampshire had no way to know what happened. It looked as if I had no votes, no support in New Hampshire. So, their vote for me in Florida would be a total write-off especially in view of the fact that I was not even in the debates.
There are only a few things more I want to tell you. In Mississippi College I majored in History and minored in Political Science. I thought America was free and equal. That dream is a myth. There is no equal access to become president, even if you qualify for the ballot. The presidency is completely in the hands of the national press, controlled by a few people at ABC, CBS, NBC, AP, UPI, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek Magazine, Time Magazine, and The Wall Street Journal and a few cable outlets owned by the above. The party hierarchy and the League of Women Voters, which controls the debates, finish out this system of control.
I did what God called me to do. What I was saying in 1974, 1975 and 1976, was that I believed in the separation of Church and State, but not in separation of God and Country. What I had thought to bring up, as an issue is now a household issue in America.
But what I did to raise this issue was forgotten and it is as it should be, I suppose. I came to this final conclusion there. There is no true freedom in presidential campaigns and I do believe that in order to become president of the United States, a person must sell his soul. No truly free person, honest and unowned could be nominated or elected president. I believe it with all my heart.
My fundamental reason for running for president was to show that people want to know what a person believes in their heart about God. Are you a follower of Jesus? Are you saved? What is your belief system? Before in the race for president, those people running during my lifetime inferred what they believed but would not openly state it.
Now thank you Jesus, this is now an issue in every election!
I think this is the major result of my campaign. I proved that what a person believes about Jesus is important to a huge number of voters. Jimmy Carter did not make his famous ‘born again’ statement until after the Florida primary. He saw the impact of my running and with that statement got another fifteen to twenty percent of the vote.
Of course, not all those people had voted for me because they knew I would not be elected. I knew my mission was accomplished and I left the U.S. to carry the cross in Canada and for a year on the far side of the world. I was overseas during the election.
During the presidential campaigns I moved my family to Florida, but God would not let me do anything to allow me to win. My children at the time were Gina, Joel, Joy, Joshua and Joseph.
I saw thousands of people come to Jesus trusting Him as Savior and Lord and committing their lives to follow Him during my run for president. I came to know the wonderful people of New Hampshire and Florida. So many people helped me with their love and vote and support.
In many ways God made me a fool for His Glory, to raise an issue that is now having a mighty impact on the nation and world.
My campaign for president will not even be a footnote in history. It is lost in the dust of time.
Yet many will be in heaven because I ran and witnessed and preached. And people will be asking the questions to those running for president. “What is your relationship with God? We want to know.” Now candidates must answer the questions. I am pleased. I smile. I feel the glory of the Lord.
Thanks to all my friends and supporters during that two-year period as I carried the cross around the states of Florida and New Hampshire. I love you all. Miss you. Great will be your reward in heaven.
Jimmy Carter was the Democratic nominee. Gerald Ford was the Republican nominee. Jimmy Carter was elected president in 1976. I kept carrying the cross .
Results of the Florida Democratic Primary
Miami News – March 10, 1976
Jimmy Carter 439,870
Henry Jackson 306,120
Milton Shapp 31, 024
Birch Bayh 8,552
Arthur Blessitt 8,171
Ellen McCormack 7,481
Sargent Shriver 6,871
Fred Harris 5,666
Frank Church 5,456
Robert Byrd 5,010
Some Internet links with information about the 1976 New Hampshire primary and Arthur Blessitt.
All glory to God. Jesus did it. What a glorious time of witness and what beautiful people I came to know.
Pilgrim followers of Jesus,
Arthur and Denise Blessitt