Often after a presentation as Theodore Roosevelt, I open the floor to questions. Events that hire me often comment about the fact that people ask me questions by starting with “Mr. President”. They are also intrigued by the fact that after all these years of study, I can field almost any question an audience asks.
Recently, I did an event at a history center where people were asked to show up with “stump the President” questions. They told me about it when I arrived I was very concerned about what they might ask. Most of them were much easier questions than the ones I was given back when I competed in contests.
The “doozey” questions still come up from time to time and I enjoy searching through my memory bank or doing research for the answer when they can stump me. Some questions are rather subjective, and I have to literally take off my “Roosevelt hat” and answer as myself. I thought you might be interested in some more recent questions – the answer I gave and the research I did after with the most common answer.
“When you shot an elephant on Safari – what gun and caliber did you use?” The answer I gave: “Winchester .405 I believe, but my memory is not perfect so don’t quote me!” Correct answer: Some experts say it was the Winchester .405 but others say it was the Holland 500-450. My gut tells me that the Holland would have been a better choice and was probably what he used.
“What is your IQ?” The answer I gave: “Enough to get by. I am not the smartest man but I read a book a day so at least I can feel that way” Correct answer: Current estimates place Roosevelt’s IQ at 146.5
“How would you life have been different if your first wife had not died?” I had to remove my hat for this one. “We all have points in our lives where there is a “fork in the road” and we must choose our path. Roosevelt said “I would have never become President if it were not for my time in the Dakotas”, which happened because his wife passed away and he went west to regroup himself. From his perspective, our nation would have never benefited from his perspective on building a better country if his wife had not died (maybe). Correct answer: unanswerable.
“Who was the man with the shot off finger?” I still have yet to figure out this question and who the man is. (I would appreciate any insights anyone has on this one).
The question and answer period is a great chance to connect further and have people get to the questions they wished they could ask Roosevelt. I relate it to the idea “If you could sit down for a beer with someone from history, who would it be?”. I can’t replace the real Roosevelt in that dream, but at least I can be a reasonable facsimilie. (Unlike Roosevelt, I would actually drink the beer!)