Football Great Mike Ditka: My ‘Biggest Mistake’ Was Not Beating Obama In 2004

Confident that he would have come out on top, former NFL coach Mike Ditka said earlier this month that he regrets not running in Illinois’s 2004 U.S. Senate race and stopping Barack Obama’s career in its tracks.

“Biggest mistake I’ve ever made,” Ditka said while attending the opening ceremony of North Dakota’s Oil Patch, according to the Dickinson Press. “Not that I would have won, but I probably would have and he wouldn’t be in the White House.”

Ditka’s name was floated as a possible Republican opponent to Obama in the 2004 race, which the Democrat ultimately won easily over Alan Keyes. The Atlantic Wire noted that a SurveyUSA poll in 2004 showed Obama with a 7-point lead over Ditka. 

Ditka helped guide the 1985 Chicago Bears to a Super Bowl title. A Bears fan, Obama invited Ditka and the rest of that legendary team to the White House in 2011. 

In a 2008 interview, Ditka described himself as a “fan” of George W. Bush and said that, while he didn’t know Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) that well, he would vote for the Arizona Republican “25 times” before Obama.

“In Chicago you can do that,” he quipped. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Kludt is a reporter for Talking Points Memo based in New York City, covering media and national affairs. Originally from South Dakota, Tom joined TPM as an intern in late-2011 and became a staff member during the 2012 election. He can be reached at tom@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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