What's The Most Times Someone Has Run For President Of The United States?

1,214. According to the BBC, this is the number of presidential candidates for the 2020 US election. However, in a predominantly two-party political system dominated by career politicians – and the occasional orange-tinted reality TV star — who hog media coverage, it's difficult to remember that basically anyone can run for president, once basic requirements are met. Candidates typically boil down to two choices, and in an era where nuance is often drowned in noise, many consider a vote for an independent party to be a throwaway vote.

Of course, the presidential race is also a popularity contest in which every ad, campaigner, and tour bus to a swing state could have an impact. So, money helps ... like, a lot. Take Ross Perot, a Naval officer-turned-billionaire entrepreneur who, as stated by The New York Times, self-funded his presidential runs in 1992 and 1996 as an independent before fizzling out. And more recently, Republican nominee Mitt Romney spent over $1 billion in 2012, per Politico, after running in 2008. And, as Investopedia says, the price tag keeps rising and rising.

Some candidates try again and again, spending years running the gauntlet of would-be but ultimately obscure hopefuls, desiring to make change but never having the chance to be heard or noticed. One candidate, though, tried more than any other. He tried nine times, in fact. Nine. The holder of the dubious honor in question? Governor of Minnesota Harold Stassen.

Nine tries, nine loses for an otherwise successful career

And when we say that Harold Stassen unsuccessfully tried to become president, we don't mean that he actually ran in the presidential race: He never got past the G.O.P. candidate phase. In 1948, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1964, 1968, 1972, 1976, and 1988 (he took a couple times off), Stassen put himself forward as the Republican nominee in a feat of either dogged determination or misled dreams, as The New York Times states.

Stassen became governor of Minnesota at age 31 and had always been known as a "live wire," having finished high school at 15 and put himself through college with jobs as an overnight train conductor, pan greaser at a bakery, and grocery clerk. He was also national intercollegiate rifle team captain on a three-year national-winning team and received a Legion of Merit while in the Navy. 

All these accomplishments, however, would become outshone by his losing bids for the presidency. Stassen was jokingly dubbed the "perennial, never-say-die candidate" and "the Grand Old Party's grand old loser," and many said that he was simply an underwhelming candidate caught in a flight of fancy. Stassen, though, maintained good humor throughout, joining in on the mockery on radio shows and saying in 1988 that he wanted to ”lead a powerful, compassionate America to full employment, a balanced budget, and a balanced world trade, along the path of peace and freedom.” Harold Stassen passed away from natural causes in 2001.