A Shermanesque statement is a clear and direct statement by a potential political candidate indicating that he or she will not run for a particular office.
The term is derived from a remark made by Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman when he was being considered as a possible Republican candidate for president in 1884.
Sherman declined, saying, “I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected.”
A clear statement from a candidate not looking to run for office often comes during the invisible primary stage of the campaign.
In modern times, President Lyndon Johnson famously declared he would not run for a second term in 1968 in a Shermanesque statement by saying, “I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president.”
Likewise, Gen. David Petraeus made a similar pledge in 2010 saying, “I thought I’ve said ‘no’ as many ways as I could. I will not ever run for political office, I can assure you of that.”
Uses of “Shermanesque statement”
Forbes (November 18, 2022): “Pelosi pushed back on the notion she was making a ‘Shermanesque statement’ – a clear indication of her electoral intentions – but said, ‘I can’t wait to be working with Joe Biden and preparing us for our transition into the future.'”
Time (April 21, 2016): “There was former Army general William Tecumseh Sherman in 1884, whose emphatic “no thanks” (“I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected”) has been codified in the nation’s political lexicon as a ‘Shermanesque statement.'”
Taegan Goddard is the creator of the Political Dictionary.
Goddard spent more than a decade on Wall Street as managing director and chief operating officer of a prominent investment firm in New York City. Previously, he also served as a policy adviser to a U.S. Senator and Governor.
Goddard is also co-author of You Won – Now What?: How Americans Can Make Democracy Work from City Hall to the White House, a political management book hailed by prominent journalists and politicians from both parties.
His essays on politics and public policy have appeared in dozens of newspapers and magazines across the country.
Goddard earned degrees from Vassar College and Harvard University.
He lives in New York with his wife and three sons.