Birch Bayh


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(b. Terre Haute, Indiana, 22 Jan. 1928)

US; US Senator 1963–81 Educated at the University of Purdue, Indiana State College, and the University of Indiana, Bayh spent time as a farmer and a lawyer before entering politics. From 1954 until 1962 he was a member of the Indiana House of Representatives serving as minority leader (1957–8 and 1961–2) and as Speaker (1959–60). Elected to the Senate in 1962 in a surprise victory, Bayh served as chairman of the Intelligence Committee and as a member of the Judiciary and Appropriations Committee. Although a good campaigner, Bayh's politics had become out of step with an increasingly conservative state. As chairman of the Constitutional Amendments Subcommittee Bayh earned praise for his handling of the 25th and 26th amendments; but he became vulnerable to conservative criticism over the equal rights amendment (which he helped promote) and amendments on a balanced budget, abortion, and school prayer which he helped block. In 1980 the conservative tide which brought Ronald Reagan to the presidency and saw social issues figuring prominently in the campaign, Bayh was beaten by future Vice-President Danforth Quayle. Bayh returned to legal practice.

Bayh attempted to secure the Democratic nomination twice. In 1971 he withdrew for family reasons. In 1976 he dropped out after running poorly in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Subjects: Politics.

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