YES … AND HERE’S WHY …
|| By ROBERT ROMANO || “It’s still different for women. It’s only a woman whose appearance would be talked about while running for president — never a man. And that’s what women understand.”
That was Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina appearing on CNN’s “New Day” on September 17, referencing Donald Trump’s comments about her face in a Rolling Stone interview, claiming no male candidate for president has ever had his appearance talked about.
Was Fiorina born yesterday?
In fact, the appearance of presidential candidates, and presidents, for that matter, rightly or wrongly has been a topic of great interest since at least 1960, in the famous Septempber 26 debate of that year between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon.
It was the first televised presidential debate in history. Nixon is thought to have lost the debate if, for no other reason, than he looked terrible. He was recovering from the flu, he had a 5 o’clock shadow, and to top it off, he didn’t use any television makeup despite appearing under very bright lights.
By contrast, Kennedy looked well-rested and energetic compared to Nixon’s exhaustion. And, with 70 million people watching the debate, it made a difference in the race. Kennedy went from being slightly behind in the polls to slightly ahead afterward. Then, appearance mattered.
One can go back slightly further in history to the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt. Roosevelt, who suffered from polio, did not want the nation to know he was paralyzed. So, whenever he appeared publicly, long before he ever ran for president, it was with the assistance of braces so he could stand.
In fact, according to a CNN interview with filmmaker Ken Burns, citing rare 1937 footage of Roosevelt struggling to walk at a baseball game, “Burns said footage of Roosevelt struggling to move is rare because the Secret Service either prohibited or confiscated cameras at the time to minimize the public’s knowledge of the devastating effects that polio had had on him. The media complied with the request.” Then, appearance mattered.
These are obvious, well-known examples of where the appearance of presidential candidates and presidents was a topic of discussion. But there are more …
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