In-person presidential campaigns
Barbara Perry writes about the good, the bad, and the ugly
Presidential campaigns as we know them up to the current pandemic are primarily 20th-century phenomena. Before that, few candidates or, heaven forbid, incumbent presidents, sullied themselves by rubbing elbows with the hoi polloi. But as presidents and aspirants for the office realized that their power could be augmented by direct appeals and outreach to the electorate, they embraced in-person campaigns. Nationwide train, and then plane, travel made them possible.
The Donald Trump and Joe Biden 2020 campaigns have put their rallies on hold to avoid exacerbating the COVID-19 crisis, but both the president and the former vice president share a preference for rope lines or firing up the base with stem-winding rhetoric.