Thaddeus McCotter drops bid to become nation’s president

Congressman Thaddeus McCotter – an alumnus of the university – abandoned his two-month-old campaign to become U.S. president Thursday.

An eight-year congressman from Livonia, McCotter was among the candidates seeking the Republican nomination to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012.

McCotter, who earned bachelor and law degrees from the university, announced his candidacy in July but failed to generate the enthusiasm and donations needed to continue.

He graduated from what was then the University of Detroit in 1987 and UDM Law School in 1990.

Fittingly, "McCotter was a political science major," said Gary Lichtman, UDM media relations director.

McCotter left a political imprint on those he encountered at the university.

"He was an excellent student," said Dr. Victoria L. Mantzopoulos, professor and chair of the departments of political science and economics. "He was very conservative, very ethical, very personable and an obvious leader."

Mantzopoulos is not the only one to think he was a bright student.

"He had a 4.0 average," said Dr. Donald Burkholder, an associate professor of political science.

He described McCotter as an honors student who was not very expressive in class discussions.

"He was obviously bright but not especially loquacious," Burkolder said.

One of McCotter’s former classmates remembered him differently.

"I remember we were seniors, and we debated quite a bit," said Bob Sadler, director of public and external relations at the Detroit Historical Society. "He was very smart, very sharp and willing to express (himself) and debate."

Salder recalls the discussions were political but doesn’t remember the specific topics.

"I was surprised he was running for president," Sadler said.

He said he expected McCotter to challenge Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow.

Earlier last week, before McCotter dropped out of the presidential race, Mantzopoulos said she thought his odds of capturing the Republican nomination were low. 

"Unfortunately, I believe his bid for president is a bit premature," she said. "The national support, at this point, is more about raising money than voters really knowing him."

Sadler had noted that something was hampering McCotter’s candidacy.

"They do not include him" in the debates, he said. "He has not been able to be in mutual campaign events."

With his national campaign over, McCotter has announced he will seek reelection to Congress.