Apropos of the Iowa Caucus, Presidential Candidates Riding Tractors

Politics are a downer. Let’s use the Iowa Caucus to keeping the wheels of hilarity turning.

Obama on a Tractor
EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

It’s time to for the Iowa Caucus, people. If you’re a native Iowan, go participate in one of our great nation’s odder political processes! And, if you’re a presidential candidate, for Washington’s sake, stay off the local farm equipment. Because odds are your Ivy League-educated, New York-based, billionaire and/or scion-of-a-dynasty ass is going to look ridiculous atop a tractor. In fact, let’s widen that ban to include photo-ops featuring any specialized equipment and any head-covering. No one wants to be a Dukakis.

In 1988, Michael Dukakis was the Democratic front-runner, all set to give George H.W. a run for his oil money. Dukakis was dynamic, popular, and combined an effective Massachusetts governorship with an inspiring immigrant tale. All was well until he visited General Dynamics in Sterling Heights, Michigan, manufacturer of the mighty, 68-ton M1A1 Abrams Battle Tank. Dukakis, a diminutive, well-groomed man, threw on an army helmet, replete with nametag, clambered aboard the vehicle, and pretended to be something he was not. It was a goofy circumstance, and undercut credibility rather than bolstering it. The photo effectively torpedoed Dukakis’ political ascent. To this day, “Dukakis and the tank” is a phrase staffers use to warn against potentially humiliating photo ops.

AP Photo/Michael E. Samojeden

In case that tale of woe doesn’t strike fear into politico’s hearts, we’ve assembled images of politicians astraddle equipment they’ve never really used before and likely won’t encounter again. Like all those half-eaten, Iowa State Fair corn dogs, these goofy photos stand in testament to the lengths American politicians will go to win a rural heart.

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

Michele Bachmann, 2011.

AP Photo

Warren G. Harding, 1923

John Kasich, 2015.

AP Photo

Richard Nixon, 1960.

AP Photo

Ronald Reagan, 1980.