It’s Campaigning Time Again…

Rochester has welcomed its fair share of presidential hopefuls over the years. Images from a number of these visits can be found in the Local History and Genealogy division’s photograph collection.


Humphrey’s New Day

Vice President Hubert Humphrey’s campaign made its local stop at the Greater Rochester International Airport in September, 1968. The Aquinas High School band played “Going Out of My Head” as the Democratic nominee’s plane landed at Page Airways Hangar.

The visibly road-worn politician delivered a gravelly-voiced speech largely from memory that was met with applause as well as gifts. A young woman placed a string of wooden “love beads” around Humphrey’s neck and the local Citizens for Humphrey organization presented the candidate with a two-month-old Pygmy burro named El Nueva Dia, or, “New Day, ”in reference to the vice president’s campaign slogan, “A New Day for America.”

Directly after completing his appearance (during which roughly 120 bottles of whiskey were consumed by attendees), Humphrey returned to his plane. A woman stopped the candidate on the way and remarked, “Oh, you’re so handsome, Mr. Humphrey,” to which he responded, “You know, I keep telling my wife that.”

Sadly, the baby burro did not make the trip. Because the young animal needed to be steadier on her feet before she could be crated, El Nueva Dia was sent to Lollypop Farm  to await her formal adoption.

Four years later, on September 22, 1972, Senator George McGovern graced Rochester with his presence, appearing at a rally of some 7,000 people on Elm Street near the Liberty Pole.

McGovernThe crowd, which McGovern claimed was the most enthusiastic he’d witnessed on the current leg of his campaign, was a diverse group that found flannel-shirted youths rubbing shoulders with fur stole-sporters.

A strong contingent of union representatives were in attendance as were members of the Rochester Area Women for Peace, who donned wide-brimmed hats emblazoned with “Another Woman for McGovern.”

The candidate appealed to the common interests of his diverse constituents, stating “I find a desperate hunger in people to make America a good, powerful and just land again. This is not radicalism. It is a plea to live by the great precepts by which we began two centuries ago.”

His greatest applause, however, came from his critique of the Nixon campaign’s recent break-in at the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate building: “A political outfit that wiretaps and invades a national party’s offices might not hesitate to do the same thing to your law office, your bank, your union office or even your home.”

Interestingly, twelve years later, the local Reagan-Bush campaign headquarters was also the site of election season controversy. At 4:20am on November 1st, 1984, the day that President Reagan was to visit Rochester as part of his reelection campaign, a firebomb exploded in the doorway of the office at 353 East Main Street, creating a blast that resounded for several downtown blocks. Fortunately no one was hurt.

The incident did not interfere with Reagan’s visit. The president spoke at the Community War Memorial to a capacity crowd.


Hopeful attendees began arriving downtown shortly after dawn. A grandmother from Greece who stood among the throngs of people on Broad Street told a Times-Union reporter, “I got up real early and washed my hair. If I get to shake his hand, I wanted to be clean.”

Inside the venue, the President amused his audience with some digs at his opponent, former Vice President Walter Mondale. “If his administration were a novel,” Reagan explained, “you’d have to read it from the back to the front to get a happy ending.”


Reserving his negative remarks for his rival, the Gipper kept the rest of his speech fairly positive, concluding, “The motto of the State of New York is excelsior—ever upward. Together, we can keep not just the spirit of New York, but America headed ever upward.”


-Emily Morry

Published in: on April 12, 2016 at 10:00 am  Leave a Comment  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: