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The Long and Short of It: Does Size Matter in a President?

Do looks matter in a president? Perhaps, though, you can ask the infamous JFK/Nixon debate match up on that one — but how about sheer size? With Obama's workout regiment closely watched earlier this campaign, in the face-off between 6'1.5", 180 lbs. Obama, and 5'7", 165 lbs. McCain, will the top dog be the biggest in the pack?


The New York Times took the weights and measurements of the men running for president back to the turn of the century to see if there's any truth to the rumor that tall men rule.

The results? Not always. Perhaps presidential shorter/heavier loser Ford is a little resentful that he lost his match up on the scale with Jimmy Carter, while Nixon was similarly shorter and heavier than both McGovern and Humphrey and won both match-ups.

To see some of the other stand out numbers, read more.


  • Though taller doesn't always win, the taller man has won 17 times to the shorter victors' eight in the elections since 1896.
  • Does a battle of the bulge have anything to do with winning? Ask William Taft, I suppose. At 332 lbs. he still beat his opponent — as did 18 other "heaviers." The lighter man only won eight times.
  • What's the real long and short of it? The tallest president was Abraham Lincoln at 6'4"; the shortest was James Madison at 5'4".

    The Times graphic is worth a look, all the heights and weights are right there. I mean, if that's what it takes to be president . . . uh, maybe I'll pass? None of your beeswax, voters!

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