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Monday, October 8, 2012

Romney in the Rain


NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - The rain fell in sheets, turning the grass into a muddy bog, and prompting women to shuck their shoes to go barefoot. Mitt Romney gave an 11-minute abbreviated stump speech, joking at an outdoor rally, “I'm not going to go through all this in great detail because you've been here for a little while in this sunshine.''

Don't be fooled for a minute. Politicians love bad weather, the wetter, the nastier, the better. The photos look amazing. While spectators huddled under ponchos, Mr. Romney wore a black parka with a flipped-up collar but skipped a hat or umbrella. He toughed it out, appearing with gray naval ships in the background, on a day on which he earlier gave a foreign policy speech dedicated to peace through strength.

In July, President Obama also campaigned in a Virginia downpour. As supporters took cover under blankets and garbage bags, the president wore only a blue dress shirt that quic kly became soaked to the skin. Photographs appeared widely.

This all goes back to John F. Kennedy, who famously wore no hat or overcoat for his 1961 inauguration in minus-10-degree weather, projecting youth and resolve that contrasted with Dwight D. Eisenhower bundled in a coat and scarf.

Presidents and aspiring presidents may want to heed an earlier predecessor, however. William Henry Harrison gave his inauguration speech on a cold, wet day in March 1841, wearing neither overcoat nor hat. Thirty-one days later he was dead of pneumonia.