In 1983 John Glenn decided to explore a run for president. He had been a senator from Ohio for nearly 10 years. Joe Cerrell, the legendary Los Angeles Democratic consultant, had connections to some of Glenn’s aides so Glenn asked Joe to show him around California and test his prospects. I had been with the Cerrell firm for about five years at the time and I went along to many of the events.

1983 was not a long way removed from Glenn’s famous 1962 space travels, the first American to orbit the globe and everywhere we went Glenn was a rock star. We dealt with a lot of hardened Democratic Party veterans who were used to meeting political figures, but John Glenn was different. Everyone knew the astronaut. He used to carry pictures along with him and sign autographs.

The movie, “The Right Stuff,” came out at that time. It was the story of America’s original Mercury astronauts. Ed Harris played Glenn in the movie. Glenn thought the movie was a good representation of those formative years in America’s space program—maybe a little Hollywood, but a good depiction.

John Glenn was a military guy, had that military reserve about him, but we always had a good time. He laughed a lot and was very attentive to his wife, Anna.

Glenn made a good run, made a good impression, but he was up against the former vice-president, Walter Mondale, in the Democratic race and it was an uphill battle.  Glenn finished third in the New Hampshire primary with 12% of the vote and he never made it to California’s June primary. He dropped out in March. If he had been successful in the primaries, he would have had to face the challenge of going up against a popular sitting president in Ronald Reagan.

For his service to his country, there is no question that, as writer Tom Wolfe wrote, John Glenn had the “right stuff.”