American presidential campaigns have been full of drama, humor and history. Here’s a look back at memorable moments on the campaign trail through the years.
Photo: President Harry S. Truman holds up an election day edition of the Chicago Daily Tribune, which, based on early results, mistakenly announced “Dewey Defeats Truman,” November 4, 1948.
Credit: Byron Rollins/AP
Clint Eastwood talks to chair
In a very bizarre (or funny depending on your point of view) moment that had everyone in the country talking, actor Clint Eastwood gave an impromptu speech to a chair, that was a stand-in for President Barack Obama, at the Republican National Convention in Tampa on August 30, 2012. Eastwood, best known for the film character “Dirty Harry,” pretended Invisible Obama was objecting to his comments about getting out of the way for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney to take over.
Credit: Charles Dharapak/AP
Bill Clinton plays the sax
Then-Arkansas Governor and Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton turns out an impressive version of “Heatrbreak Hotel” as Arsenio Hall gestures approvingly in the musical opening of “The Arsenio Hall Show” taping at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, June 3, 1992. One day earlier, Clinton defeated Jerry Brown in the California primary, clinching his party’s nomination.
The appearance’s cool factor helped Clinton’s popularity with young voters.
Credit: Reed Saxon/AP
I like Ike
Preparing to run for his second term in office, President Dwight D. Eisenhower laughs as his wife, Mamie, tries on a cardboard eyeshade during a Republican campaign dinner in Washington, D.C., April 17, 1956.
Credit: Bob Schutz/AP
President George H.W. Bush
Looking decidedly worried, President George H.W. Bush reacts as he holds up a crying baby amidst a crowd of supporters upon his arrival on a campaign stop in Dalton, Georgia, August 3, 1992.
Credit: Greg Gibson/AP
Dukakis and the tank
Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis takes a ride in one of General Dynamics’ new M1-A-1 battle tanks in Sterling Heights, Michigan in a PR move to fend off criticism he was soft on national security, that backfired visually, September 13, 1988.
Credit: Michael E. Samojeden/AP
Then-presumptive Democratic nominee Senator Barack Obama being covered in the hands of supporters after a speech in St. Paul, Minnesota, June 3, 2008.
Credit: Chris Carlson/AP
Sammy Davis Jr. and Nixon
Entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. hugs President Richard Nixon from behind as Nixon addresses about 8,000 supporters at a youth rally in Miami, August 22, 1972. Davis’ apparently spontaneous gesture came shortly after the president had been nominated for reelection by the Republican National Convention.
Senator John F. Kennedy is deluged with confetti and paper streamers as his car moves slowly up Broadway in downtown Los Angeles, November 1, 1960. The Democratic presidential nominee got a wild welcome as he began a final quest for California’s 32 electoral votes.
Credit: Dick Strobel/AP
Broward County canvassing board member Judge Robert Rosenberg uses a magnifying glass to examine a disputed ballot November 24, 2000, at the county courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The 2000 presidential election was notable for the highly scrutinized Florida recount to determine whether Republican George W. Bush or Democrat Al Gore won. Bush became president when the U.S. Supreme Court stopped the recount, deciding the election in his favor by a margin of 537 votes.
Credit: Alan Diaz/AP
Patriotic Bill Clinton
Democratic presidential hopeful Bill Clinton addresses the media as Congressman Joseph Kennedy, D-Mass., looks on at a Boston campaign stop the evening of April 28, 1992.
Credit: Stephan Savoia/AP
Supporters of General Dwight D. Eisenhower for the Republican presidential nomination, hold banners and wave as they leave Eisenhower National Headquarters in New York City, April 3, 1952, on a motorcade which will tour New Jersey for two weeks.
Credit: Anthony Camerano/AP
Biden and biker
Vice President Joe Biden talks to customers during a stop at Cruisers Diner, September. 9, 2012 in Seaman, Ohio. Though it looked like the female biker was sitting on Biden’s lap he was actually perched behind her chair.
Credit: Carolyn Kaster/AP
Theodore Roosevelt campaigns for the presidency in 1904.
Audience member Robin Roy reacts as U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets her at a campaign rally in Lowell, Massachusetts, January 4, 2016.
Credit: Brian Snyder /REUTERS
Barack Obama tears up
Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama sheds tears as he talks about his grandmother, Madelyn Payne Dunham, at a rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, November 3, 2008. Obama’s grandmother, who helped raise him, died peaceably in her sleep one day before the presidential election.
Credit: Alex Brandon/AP
Clinton and Gore jog
Democratic presidential hopeful Bill Clinton, left, known for his love of fast food, goes jogging with his vice presidential running mate Senator Al Gore in Little Rock, Arkansas, July 11, 1992. Meant as a photo-op to show youth and vigor the jog ended at McDonald’s.
Credit: Stephan Savoia/AP
Gov. Dewey supporters
About 2,000 supporters of Governor Thomas E. Dewey gathered in the downtown section of his hometown of Owosso, Michigan on June 28, 1944, to celebrate his G.O.P nomination for the presidency.
Republican presidential candidate Vice President Richard M. Nixon wipes his face with a handkerchief during the first-ever nationally televised presidential debates with Sen. John F. Kennedy, Democratic nominee, in Chicago, September 26, 1960. Nixon’s profuse sweating on stage opposite cool-as-a-cucumber rival John Kennedy proved to be disastrous to his image during the campaign.
George H.W. Bush's time check
Cameras caught President George H.W. Bush checking his watch during the 1992 presidential campaign debate with candidates, Independent Ross Perot, top, and Democrat Bill Clinton at the University of Richmond, Virginia, Oct. 15, 1992. That gesture would be replayed over and again as evidence that the president was indifferent and out of touch. “I took a huge hit,” Bush said years later.
Credit: Ron Edmonds/AP
Geraldine Ferraro (R), the Democratic nominee for vice president and first woman on a national ticket, talks with her aide, Ann Wexler, while on a flight from Minneapolis to New York City, August 4, 1984. Ferraro was returning from her first campaign trip for the 1984 election.
Credit: Ron Frehm/AP
Black Americans vote
Black Americans line up to receive ballots in Columbia, South Carolina, as members of the black community vote in a South Carolina Democratic primary for the first time since 1876 on August 10, 1948.
In 1944, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that blacks cannot be denied the right to vote in primary elections.
Al and Tipper Gore's big smooch
Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore gives his wife, Tipper, an open-mouthed kiss that the New York Times described as “exceptionally long” on stage before accepting the nomination for president at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, August 17, 2000.
Credit: David J. Phillip/AP
RFK wins California primary
Democratic Sen. Robert F. Kennedy talks to campaign workers in Los Angeles after winning the California primary and shortly before he was shot by Sirhan Sirhan, June 5, 1968. At his side are his wife, Ethel, and his California campaign manager, Jesse Unruh, speaker of the California Assembly.
Credit: Dick Strobel/AP
The searing tragedy of Democratic Senator Robert Kennedy’s assassination by Sirhan Sirhan, shortly after he won the California primary, was captured by photographer Boris Yaro as Kennedy lay bleeding in the kitchen of the Ambassador hotel in Los Angeles, attended to by 17-year-old Juan Romero, June 5, 1968.
The year was a devastating time for the nation as it reeled from not only Kennedy’s death, but the assassination of Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. as well the turmoil of Vietnam War and civil rights protests.
Credit: Boris Yaro/Los Angeles Times
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Cowboys donned their big hats in Laramie, Wyoming, September 18, 1932, as the Roosevelt Special stopped for a short time while Democratic presidential nominee and New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt campaigns.
Kerry in a clean suit
Democratic presidential candidate Senator John Kerry, wearing a clean suit, crawls through a hatch while touring the space shuttle Discovery at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida on July 26, 2004.
Though the “bunny suits” are required dress for anyone coming in close proximity to Discovery, it didn’t make for the best optics.
Credit: AP Photo/photo released by NASA)
Members of the clerical staff of the White House hold a victory demonstration around President Harry Truman’s desk in Washington on Nov. 3, 1948, when Governor Thomas E. Dewey conceded defeat.
Bush and the cash register
President George H. W. Bush, right, pushes the keys on a new high technology cash register under the watchful eyes of Leo Hardy, left, and Bob Graham, center, during a visit to the National Grocers Association trade show in Orlando, Florida, February 4, 1992. Bush said he was “amazed” by some of the technology he was shown and the New York Times ran a headline “Bush Encounters the Supermarket, Amazed.”
Credit: Barry Thumma/AP
President Jimmy Carter leans across the roof of his car to shake hands along the parade route through Bardstown, Kentucky, July 31, 1979. The president climbed on top of the car as the parade moved toward the high school gym, where a town meeting was held.
Credit: Bob Daugherty/AP
President Calvin Coolidge wears a Native American Indian headdress of the Sioux tribe as he is adopted as Chief Leading Eagle and first white chief of the tribe at the celebration of the 51st anniversary of the settlement of Deadwood, South Dakota, in 1927.
George Wallace shooting
Then-Alabama first lady Cornelia Wallace joins Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace, who displays a newspaper headline, from his bed at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Springs, Md., on May 17, 1972. Cornelia Wallace threw herself over her husband when he was shot while campaigning for president in Laurel, Md., in 1972.
Weepy Ed Muskie
An emotional Democratic Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine denounces conservative Manchester Union Leader publisher William Loeb for the paper’s attack on his wife in front of the newspaper’s Manchester, N.H., building, February 26, 1972.
Newspaper reports that Muskie cried during the speech helped derail the front-runners campaign. Whether tears or melted snowflakes, as Muskie insisted till his death, this speech helped derail his campaign.
Republican National Convention 1952
Delegates to the Republican National Convention in Chicago listen to a speech by former President Herbert Hoover July 8, 1952.
Credit: William Smith/AP
Obama and Clinton hug
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton hugs President Barack Obama as she arrives onstage at the end of his speech on the third night of the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 27, 2016.