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Framing the necessary purpose of theory building as a choice between grand theory or particularism poses two unsound extremes. The application of rational choice has made contributions, but it has also generated conclusions that are inaccurate, duplicative of long-standing and well-known research, and unnecessarily adversarial. The most productive approach to theory building in the study of the presidency relies on “middle-level” concepts and research, producing theoretical extension by climbing the abstraction ladder to identify similarities and sufficient analytic intention to avoid unnecessary declines in precision and accuracy.