Too Funny to be President

"I am often accused of having a sense of humor. And I always say, 'It's better to have a sense of humor than no sense at all.'"
- Morris K. Udall

In 1973 several of his House colleagues approached Mo about making a run for the White House. He was a long shot, the first member of Congress to seek the presidency since James A. Garfield (who, Mo reflected wryly, "got himself shot"). His brother Stewart was his campaign manager, while his children Mark, Judith, Anne and Brad, along with Mo's stepson Vince Fabrizio, joined their father on the campaign trail. During his campaign, during a rare moment of relaxation on the golf course, Mo was asked if he had a handicap. "I'm a one-eyed Mormon Democrat from conservative Arizona," he joked. "You can't find a higher handicap than that."

Mo began campaigning informally for the presidency in 1974 and continued through the 1976 Democratic primaries. He finished second in seven states, losing the nomination to eventual President Jimmy Carter. In Wisconsin, he went to bed declared the primary winner over Carter by two networks; the next morning he awakened to the news that he had lost by half a percentage point. Meeting with the press corps, Mo joked, "I'd like to ask each of you to take those statements I made last night, and in every instance where you find the word 'win' strike it out and insert the word 'lose.'"

David Broder of the Washington Post was of the opinion that Mo "lacked a certain ruthlessness" necessary to win the presidency. Later, Mo chose "Too Funny to be President" as the title for his autobiography. Republican Congressman John B. Anderson said of Mo that "there was an innate kindness about him that made it hard at times for him to really step on people that needed to be stepped on."