Obama Reaches Out to the Infant Demographic - PICTURES

Sept. 21, 2012, 9:06 a.m.

Hold­ing ba­bies is one of the old­est cam­paign-trail plays in the book. It’s so simple: Ba­bies en­joy a uni­ver­sally high ap­prov­al rat­ing, which can­did­ates hope to tap in­to by proxy. What could be more hu­man­iz­ing?

“No par­ent in their right mind would give their baby to a stranger,” the Daily Mail sur­mised in an in­vest­ig­a­tion of the Amer­ic­an polit­ic­al tac­tic, “there­fore this politi­cian must ex­ude sig­nals of trust­wor­thi­ness, which might there­fore ex­tend to their polit­ics.”

The prac­tice of pos­ing with ba­bies goes back to at least An­drew Jack­son, as Moth­er Jones re­por­ted in Janu­ary. In 1833, the sev­enth pres­id­ent was ap­proached by a poor wo­man with a child and is re­por­ted to have said, “Ah! There is a fine spe­ci­men of Amer­ic­an child­hood.” Jack­son then in­struc­ted John Eaton, sec­ret­ary of War, to kiss the babe (Eaton, re­spect­ing the chain of com­mand, “pre­ten­ded to do so with a wry face”). Oth­er pres­id­ents, such as Grover Clev­e­land, largely re­fused to hold or kiss ba­bies.

While none of the pic­tures be­low match this clas­sic, they show a por­trait of the pres­id­ent’s softer, more emotive side.

This is the second in our series of can­did­ates act­ing can­didly on the trail. For pic­tures of Rom­ney ex­press­ing sheer joy, click here.