Via Politico 44:
President Obama took aim Thursday at one of his Republican predecessors: Rutherford B. Hayes.
Speaking about the need to develop new sources of American energy in Largo, MD, Obama used our 19th president as a failure of forward-thinking leadership.
“One of my predecessors, President Rutherford B. Hayes, reportedly said about the telephone: ‘It’s a great invention but who would ever want to use one?’” Obama said. “That’s why he’s not on Mt. Rushmore.”
“He’s looking backwards, he’s not looking forward. He’s explaining why we can’t do something instead of why we can do something,” Obama said. “The point is there will always be cynics and naysayers.”
The best part: Obama got it wrong. Hayes was actually a huge fan of the telephone.
New York Magazine’s Daily Intel does the legwork and finds that, contrary to Obama’s assertion that our 19th president dismissed the telephone as useless, Rutherford B. Hayes was quite enthralled by the device.
The curator of the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center responds to Obama’s quip:
She then read aloud a newspaper article from June 29, 1877, which describes Hayes’s delight upon first experiencing the magic of the telephone. The Providence Journal story reported that as Hayes listened on the phone, “a gradually increasing smile wreathe[d] his lips and wonder shone in his eyes more and more.” Hayes took the phone from his ear, “looked at it a moment in surprise and remarked, ‘That is wonderful.’”
In fact, Card noted, Hayes was not only the first president to have a telephone in the White House, but he was also the first to use the typewriter, and he had Thomas Edison come to the White House to demon