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October 25th, 2012
12:46 PM ET

'What would Lincoln do?' TIME's David Von Drehle on this week's cover story

With less than two weeks to go before Election Day, Americans look to decide who will be president of the United States for the next four years. Author and TIME Magazine Editor-at-Large David Von Drehle decided to look at a president from almost 150 years ago in his new cover piece for the magazine, title “What Would Lincoln Do?”

"As Obama and Mitt Romney reach the final hours of their race for the heavy prize of leading a polarized America through its next four years of challenges, they – and we – could learn a lot from the Lincoln of 1862,” he writes.

The article previews Von Drehle’s new book, “Rise to Greatness: Abraham Lincoln and America’s Most Perilous Year.” Von Drehle joins Soledad O’Brien on “Starting Point” this morning to talk about how this year’s presidential candidate could learn a thing or two from Abe.

Von Drehle describes the challenges Lincoln faced in 1862 and all he accomplished by the end of it. He lists the crises associated with the South winning its independence while having control of the cotton industry, great military leadership, and a large expanse of real estate. “And here was this unschooled frontier lawyer, working with virtually no military experience, trying to raise an army from 16,000 to half a million in a year, to go and somehow force these people back into the union. And people said that’s impossible,” Von Drehle says. “By the end of the year he had signed the Emancipation Proclamation.”

Von Drehle credits President Lincoln's achievement to “incredible patience, incredible moderation.” “He worked from the center out,” Von Drehle says. “He started with union, and built out, built out, built out.”

Columnist and Best-selling author Suzy Welch asks what leader could lead with patience today, especially with the excess of social media out there. “He had more media than we think he did,” Von Drehle aswers. Each city had several newspapers, “and they were as partisan as any blogs or websites today.” Although they would try to twist his words, “his message discipline was incredible,” Von Drehle says, “so that what went out from him was exactly what he wanted to say at any given time.”

"He had one conviction, which was he was going to save the United States of America” Von Drehle says. “And anything that got him there, he would try it.”

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