The Sherman pledge, Shermanesque speech or Sherman speech is a declaration by someone being considered for political office that they have no intent to run for political office, and will do all in their power to avoid running. In other words, they’ll run for the hills rather than run for office. The statement is derived from General William Tecumseh Sherman, one of the great figures of the American Civil War, who declared his intent not to accept any nomination to run for president in 1884. His pledge, which later became referred to as the Sherman pledge is the following: “If drafted, I will not run; if nominated, I will not accept; if elected, I will not serve.”
Since the initial Sherman pledge, there have been many proposed candidates who have invoked similar pledges, either declaring their intent not to seek reelection or to attempt to convince anyone who might nominate them for an office that they are not interested. Perhaps one of the most frustrating of these, especially to Democrats in the US, is Al Gore’s lack of the pledge, but also lack of action in running for president. He has never actually made a Sherman pledge, but many are frustrated by his lack of interest in running. Many Democrats have felt, however, especially with the growing popularity of Gore and his recent win of the Nobel Peace Prize that he would be the best fit for President. News reporters have repeatedly tried to either determine whether he will state the possibility of running in the future or make a Shermanesque speech.
Sometimes politicians use a version of the Sherman Pledge to determine just how disappointed people would be if they didn’t run, thus voiding the pledge. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg took a variant of the Sherman Pledge at the end of 2007. On the other hand, news broke in early 2008, that Bloomberg had been conducting private polls to determine whether a run for president made sense.
Versions of the Sherman pledge have been said and meant by a variety of people. President Lyndon Johnson vowed not to seek a second term as president, and Vice President Dick Cheney made the pledge not to run for president in 2008. As an incumbent vice president, Cheney would normally have been the natural choice to run for the 2008 presidency for the Republican Party. His Sherman Pledge was a nearly direct quote of General Sherman’s declaration.