At the time, it was only a tradition that presidents left office after two terms, but Theodore Roosevelt declined to run for President again. President Roosevelt wanted Taft to be the next President. As Taft ran against William Jennings Bryant, the ballots showed that Taft was the winner. However, the relationship between Roosevelt and Taft was now very strained. In fact, Taft became the leader of one wing of the Republican party, with Roosevelt leading the other.
Roosevelt led the progressive Republicans who believed that there should be certain restrictions on the employment of women and children. In addition, the progressive republicans believed that environmental conservation was important, including National parks and protection for certain species.
In contrast, the Conservative Republicans, led by Taft, favored tariffs for goods which were imported from other countries, in order to keep the prices of American products lower. The party was against labor Unions and instead believed that business leaders should handle issues which would be decided by the unions. They were also opposed to the popular vote as it was used to determine the election of judges and instead believed that the President should appoint judges.
When the ballots were counted in the election of 1896, the influence of the campaign was continuing to spread. In fact, many of the political ideas which grew form the disputes between Roosevelt and Taft, continue to influence campaigns today.