7 Presidential Candidates with Untraditional Backgrounds

Not all Presidential candidates were bred and born for it...

Ted Cruz has made headlines as the first major candidate to announce a presidential bid for 2016. While there have been differing opinions over his electability, one of the biggest controversies is over whether he's truly eligible for the presidency, due to his being born in Canada. Regardless of whether it's true or not, this got us thinking... what other presidential candidates in the past have had untraditional backgrounds?

01
of 07

Ralph Nader ran as a write-in candidate.

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Earl Gibson III / Stringer / Getty Images.

Ralph Nader has been both the subject of controversy, as well as the butt of many political humor jokes in his time. Nader ran as a write-in candidate in 1992, as the Green Party nominee in 1996 and 2000, and as an independent candidate in 2004 and 2008. Many Democrats blamed Nader for siphoning votes from Al Gore in the 2000 election, leading to George W. Bush's win.

02
of 07

Jimmy Carter worked on a farm.

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Jim Moore / Contributor / Getty Images.

No, he was not a lawyer, or a finance worker, he was a farmer. After several years in the Navy, he returned to work on his father's farm. He turned this into a profitable peanut business, gaining the wealth to pursue a spot in the Senate, then as Governor of Georgia, and then on to the presidency in 1977.

03
of 07

Ronald Reagan was a movie star.

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John Kobal Foundation / Contributor / Getty Images.

Ronald Reagan was a sports radio announcer and appeared in over 50 films before moving on to the world of politics. He served as Governor of California before winning the 1980 election, becoming the 40th President of the United States.

04
of 07

Martin Van Buren worked in a tavern.

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Hulton Archive / Stringer / Getty Images.

He is also the only president that did not speak English as his first language. Van Buren was of Dutch descent, but he was actually the first president to be born in the 'United States of America.' Although he worked in a tavern in his youth, it was frequented by lawyers and politicians such as Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Van Buren was elected the eighth President of the United States in 1836.

05
of 07

Herbert Hoover was the first Quaker president.

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Central Press / Stringer / Getty Images.

Hoover also worked as a mining engineer in 1899, and just escaped the Boxer Rebellion. Hoover helped lead war relief efforts in WWI, and served as Secretary of Commerce for two presidents before winning the election for himself in 1928. He and his wife often spoke Chinese in the White House when they didn't want to be overheard.

06
of 07

Harry S. Truman worked on the railroad.

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Underwood Archives / Contributor / Getty Images.

Truman's life after high school was more difficult than most. He worked as a timekeeper for the railroad and as a bank clerk. He did not go to college because he couldn't afford tuition, and ended up working on his father's farm instead. Truman then fought in WWI, and ran a men's clothing store business that ultimately failed, before finally making his way into politics. Truman served as Vice President for Franklin D. Roosevelt, but became President upon FDR's death in 1945. He was re-elected in 1948.

07
of 07

Henry Clay was a "too-young" senator.

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Print Collector / Contributor / Getty Images.

Although Henry Clay came in fourth in the 1824 election, he held heavy influence over the politics of the time. Clay first joined the Senate at 29, which was "too young for the Constitutional requirement that senators be 30 years old. In the Washington of 1806 no one seemed to notice or care." – Robert McNamara, 19th Century History Expert

From there, his power only grew, as he was elected to the US House of Representatives, became Speaker of the House, and even served as John Quincy Adams' Secretary of State after losing the election against him. Clay ran for president – and lost – several other times, but he is still remembered as one of the greatest senators of all time, having helped put together the Missouri Compromise and the Compromise of 1850, among other great successes.

So Ted Cruz being born in Canada? That's nothing!