Although Grant lacked strong political convictions, he enjoyed the attention showered on him following the war. New York City awarded him a cash grant of more than $100,000; Philadelphia and Galena, Illinois, provided him with free houses. His love of money and luxury led him to accept the Republican nomination in 1868. The party platform pledged a continuation of radical reconstruction, an issue on which Grant was a moderate.
The Democrats nominated New York governor Horatio Seymour, who ran on a platform calling for the repayment of the war debt in greenbacks.
The campaign was bitter. Grant was hailed as a war hero, but also was tarred with many accusations, including being a drunkard and a "Negro-lover." The Republican campaign consisted mainly of "waving the bloody shirt," a tactic of reminding the voters of the Democrats' lack of support of the war effort. Seymour was also attacked for his backing of the inflationary greenback scheme.
Grant won convincingly in the Electoral College, but the popular vote margin was only about 300,000. With 500,000 black votes cast, it was clear that former slaves provided the margin of victory. The Democrats most likely lost this election because of their lackluster candidates, rather than Grant's political appeal.