What Are the Presidential Candidates Eating?

By: Michael Engle

Campaigning for the United States presidency can be a daunting challenge.  The New York Times' Ashley Parker recently reported this commonly-known fact: constant exposure to media spotlight can result in significant lifestyle changes.  Republican hopeful Mitt Romney recently experienced this harsh reality, for he lamented that he would not have his traditional birthday dinner, as prepared by his wife Ann.  Because "the show must go on," his beloved "meatloaf cakes" will be served belatedly.

The campaign trail can allow ample opportunities to commit a foodie faux-pas, like John Kerry's famous cheesesteak with Swiss cheese.  (Then-President George W. Bush made a more favorable impression upon the Philly crowd by ordering a "Whiz-wit.") While there haven't been any food faux-pas as of yet, it's clear that politicians eat certain local foods to try to relate with the public of that particular area. But have you ever wondered what are they eating when they're not trying to impress the general public?

Just because one of them is about to be (or stay) President of the Free World doesn't mean that they have to give up their favorite foods. So what do the current presidential candidates love to eat?

Mitt Romney appears to be a true meat-and-potatoes kind of guy, including his birthday meatloaf cakes.  In South Carolina, he even admitted that "[he's] not a catfish man, or actually I'm not a fish man, so much - I mean, I eat it 'cause I'm told it's good for me, but you know I still like the pulled pork."  Even though he, like most politicians, champions healthy eating and exercise, he has an affinity for Carl's Jr.'s jalapea±o chicken sandwich.

Recently, Newt Gingrich famously sacrificed dessert of all varieties for lent, but he and his wife specified that they did not forsake McDonald's, which is Gingrich's favorite fast-food establishment on the campaign trail.

Believe it or not, one of the presidential candidates is actually a cookbook author. If you guessed Ron Paul, you were right! In the primaries, Ron Paul names shrimp and rice, chocolate chip cookies, and breakfast fare among his favorite dishes.  According to campaign press secretary Gary Howard, the Texas congressman "favors soups and salads and often eats light.  Compromises often have to be made in favor of the never stopping clock, so fast food inevitably finds its way onto the plane ... but [Paul] always finds time for exercise!"

There is relatively little insight on Rick Santorum's eating preferences.  He is, however, a self-admitted junk food addict, with a particular affinity for chocolate.

As per the Democrat incumbents, VP Joe Biden shamelessly favors Italian food, while President Barack Obama seems to have a more eclectic palette.  Multiple sources claim that his favorite dish to cook, as well as to eat, is homemade chili. Although we know from our experience with him at Red Rooster Harlem, the President sure did enjoy our braised short ribs and corn bread!

Photo: jmtimages

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