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A Presidential Geography Lesson

2 minute read

When John Edwards announced his candidacy on Dec. 28 in New Orleans’ Katrina-ravaged Ninth Ward, the locale underscored his central theme: a 21st century war on poverty. Geography often sends a message. Ronald Reagan launched his 1980 campaign in Philadelphia, Miss., and some saw this as a cynical appeal to white Southerners. In ’92 Ross Perot declared on the set of Larry King Live, in keeping with his spontaneous nature. Al Gore tried out Carthage, Tenn., in 2000, but his home state ultimately rejected him. Contenders for 2008 will want to stress their strengths, and TIME has some backdrop suggestions for the candidates who haven’t yet made it official.

Hillary Clinton WHERE Seneca Falls, N.Y.

Using the birthplace of the suffrage movement, perfectly perched in relatively conservative upstate New York, plays to history–and what Clinton hopes are her moderate bona fides.

Barack Obama WHERE Oprah

A self-professed Obama fan, Oprah has what Obama needs–a vast and adoring audience that cuts across ethnic and economic lines. Hipper than Larry King, more populist than Jon Stewart, Oprah can deliver the women’s vote without being strident.

Mitt Romney WHERE Foster-care center in Lowell, Mass.

Romney needs to highlight his social-conservative credibility (pro-life, anti–gay marriage) while reminding voters he’s a Republican who won twice in John Kerry and Ted Kennedy’s home state–i.e., able to pull independents away from the Democrats.

John McCain WHERE U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md.

No one but the former naval aviator and war hero could get away with such a venue. It underscores his military pedigree and allows him to criticize the war–from the right.

Rudy Giuliani WHERE Shanksville, Pa.

He’s a 9/11 pol, but a ground zero launch is too crass. Where United 93 went down, he can highlight heroism–removed from liberal New York City.

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