Candidates for President Sample Corn Dogs and Other Foods on Sticks

The Iowa State Fair’s defining test of presidential quality: deep-fried food on a stick.

Charles Dharapak / AP Photo

How do politicians really get elected president? By showing Americans they can eat food on a stick. See photos of Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Barack Obama, and others chowing down.

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Michele Bachmann

Perhaps Michele Bachmann’s Newsweek cover photograph wasn’t so bad after all. At the Iowa State Fair this weekend, just before she won the Ames Straw Poll, Bachmann was photographed by Daily Telegraph writer Toby Harnden sampling a corn dog in a deeply unflattering pose. Was the controversial image sophomorically sexist or just plain funny? Or both? No matter your opinion, the photo is not nearly as entertaining as the one of Bachmann’s husband, Marcus, reluctantly enjoying a taste.

Charles Dharapak / AP Photo

Rick Perry

He may not have been on the ballot in Iowa, but that didn’t stop Rick Perry from also sampling a corn dog at the state fair. While his technique doesn’t suggest that Perry is a good candidate for Marcus Bachmann’s reparative therapy, the Texas governor did show some political naiveté—he was duped into eating a veggie dog. After being momentarily taken aback by the meatless meal, Perry quipped, “As long as they make it on a farm,” and then chowed down.

Charles Dharapak / AP Photo

Mitt Romney

Running for president isn’t all about shaking hands and kissing corn dogs—any meat on a stick will do. At the 2011 Iowa State Fair, Mitt Romney had his own pork-chop station and then sampled the hallowed pork chop on a stick—a favorite of the media covering the fair, including The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake, Daily Caller’s Alex Pappas, and other journalists who tweeted about the delicacy.

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Mike Huckabee

For a politician like Mike Huckabee, who has struggled with his weight—the former Arkansas governor lost more than 100 pounds when he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes—a Midwestern midway is filled with dietary land mines. So when it came time to attend the Iowa State Fair in 2007, Huckabee preached temperance: “All I would say is enjoy in moderation," he told reporters as he faced a gauntlet of gluttony. "I may eat something that is like a meat or a protein. I will probably eat a pork chop, which is good and decent ... I have two basic rules for food: if it wasn't a food a hundred years ago, it isn't a food today. Second rule, if it comes through a car window, it isn't a food. So that eliminates a lot of stuff out here."

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Rudy Giuliani

Back in 2007 Rudy Giuliani opted for a pork chop on a stick when he attended the Iowa State Fair. But the former New York City mayor looked a little underwhelmed by the treat. Then again, he’s more used to Manhattan street-vendor cuisine, like hot dogs and pretzels.

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Barack Obama

A day after Michelle Obama introduced the USDA’s new nutritional guidelines this year, the president was seen scarfing down two chili dogs with a side of fries. And back in 2007 at the Iowa State Fair, he sampled a different kind of Midwestern treat, a corn dog. How does Obama stay so thin when he’s downing that many dogs? Perhaps by playing with one.

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John McCain

While running for president, John McCain made it clear that he wouldn’t stand for pork. "I'll take this old ink pen and every single pork-barrel earmark bill that comes across my desk as president,” the Arizona senator declared in April 2008. “I will veto it, I will make them famous, and you will know their names." But a few months later, at the Iowa State Fair, McCain flip-flopped and made an exception—for a pork chop on a stick.

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John Kerry

As with many of his political positions, John Kerry couldn’t make up his mind on a crucial corn-dog issue—ketchup or mustard? At the 2004 Minnesota State Fair, favorite son Garrison Keillor helped Kerry out by putting both condiments on his corn dog. "He's got ketchup and mustard on it,” one potential voter yelled, “he's got my vote!"

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Hillary Clinton

Her husband famously never met a morsel of fast food he could pass up, but at the 2007 Iowa State Fair, Hillary Clinton may have sealed her political fate when she opted for ice cream instead of a corn dog. Could that be the real reason she finished third in the 2008 Iowa caucuses?