Why don't presidential candidates constantly have horrible viruses/illnesses?

Just something I was pondering when watching the debates last night. Invariably when I travel to a different city, I wind up with a nasty cold. I assume it’s just the effect of being exposed to a lot of different people with a lot of different germs. So why don’t the presidential candidates constantly have a bad cold? Have they just been exposed to everything already, or what?

Do you usually go to different cities on an airplane?

When you travel on an airplane you are stuck in a vaccuum-sealed box with everyone else’s germs. People get sick from that.

Candidates don’t usually travel via public airplane do they? I assume they take busses or chartered flights.

They also are running their bodies to the extreme, so I assume they already are looking out for their immune systems. Otherwise, they’d be sick all the time just from being worn out.

I understand they use a lot of hand sanitizer these days, although that’s not something I can reliably cite.

IIRC George Bush came down with boils at the time of the unpleasantness of Florida (never heard what was the cause of it and he was cured, but I wondered then if that was not a sign from above :wink: ) and it was mentioned in the second term that Bush came up with Lyme disease.

As for colds not stopping politicians, I think they have access to better cold medicines, I need to mention here one item I remember seeing in the NFL: when a quarterback got a serious cold and he needed to play, a doctor (under observation by the NFL) could administer drugs to take care of the symptoms at least for the duration of the game, IIRC the drugs were administered via injection and worked really fast, looking at how effective the quarterback was (I think it was Montana or Steve Young in a game when the 49’s were a dynasty) during the game I always wondered what was in that syringe and how come it is only available at the NFL and maybe also available for high government officials?

If a candidate eats well, sleeps enough and washes their hands often during the day I think they can avoid getting most colds and flus. I used to have a boss that would ask me why I never got sick… and I told him I didn’t have time to get sick!

Also remember there are a lot of people around the candidate making sure their every need is being taken care of…

I’d guess that it wasn’t Steve Young. He wore special underwear, associated with his religious beliefs, that he thought protected him from all manner of assaults.

Maybe politics is self-selecting for people who have really robust immune systems.

They are all aliens…

No, really.


I seem to recall a very minor flap when Bush shook hands with some African-American politician (it might even have been Obama around the start of his campaign), and almost immediately was given hand sanitizer by an aide.

There was some attempt to view this as a racial thing, but the flap died almost immediately, as most politicians nowadays probably follow the same practice, no matter who the other person is…

There’s the cold that Nixon went down with a few days before the famous first debate with Kennedy in 1960 and it’s commonly suggested as one of the contributing factors in him looking rotten on TV during it. Though his health was already ropey: he’d banged his knee on the campaign trail and it’d become infected, requiring a spell in hospital. He was still very much recovering from that at the time, even without the additional cold.

I would suggest they’ve already got pretty good immune systems; as politicians already, even before running for president, they’re constantly meeting people and getting exposed to all kinds of germs. Though of course “the common cold” is ever-changing viruses.

I myself rarely get a cold, even when snuggling up to and smooching on my poor husband, who gets every bug that comes down the pike. But I’m not a politician, of course. :wink:

To even get this far, you needed to survive other campaign trails, be the type of candidate that can survive stress, be made of the proper stock that allows you to sleep in odd places, meet a tough schedule, not break down to illnesses, etc.

These guys are the survivors from crowds that couldn’t do it. How do you do what McCain has done in politics and military, or for Obama, excel at a school like Harvard and take on the Harvard Law Review if your nature is to be sick, weak, stressed, tired, etc?

It is not better medicine. Most ordinary illnesses are viral and most are self-limted. There aren’t secret cold remedies available only to the rich and famous.

The germ theory of disease is way over-rated.

What matters is host defenses. If you have robust host defenses most germs won’t make you sick. Want more robust host defenses? Build 'em up by smooching filthy children and clasping with the masses.

There are two things that keep politicians healthier than an ordinary person despite mass exposure:

  1. They have been exposed to a lot since most of them have been mixing with the polloi since a tender age. More exposure=a broader range of resistance. One of the worst ways to keep yourself healthy is to be too clean. I’m not kidding.

  2. Self-selection for the potential to become a robust host. If you can’t mount a decent immune response b/c you have inferior physiology, you are gonna get drummed out of the public-touching businesses early on.

Obama mentions this in “The Audacity of Hope” when he talks about meeting President Bush for the first time.

Actually, airplanes are continually replenishing the air from outside. You’re probably getting better air on a plane than you are in a typical office building.
And it’s difficult to call the hand-sanitizer thing racist if Bush immediately offered some to Obama, too. When they’re out mixing with thousands of voters, politicians probably wait on the sanitizer until after they’ve shook with everyone and are out of view, but two politicians shaking hands are likely to be sitting down together for a while afterwards and not have a chance to clean up unless they do it in sight.

This doesn’t directly address the question, but since the use of hand sanitizer came up, I’ll add that nearly every Judge’s chambers in the Dade County, Florida, courthouse has a hand sanitizer dispenser. I’ve also been on cruises where everybody is given a sanitizer hand wipe when they re-board after being in port. In light of these applications of hand sanitizer, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if one of the President’s aides has a jar of the stuff to dispense to the President anytime he finishes a “meet and greet”.

Something is missing here though, I do remember that it is traditional for presidents and other politicians to shake hands with many people attending a reception or fundraiser.

I would think that cleaning hands every time after every handshake would be odd, messy and would delay the process.

My secret, revealed.

This was going to be my guess. A shrinking violet would be unlikely to progress much beyond city council.

When I travel with my gf, she always takes Airborne(invented by a teacher!:rolleyes:). She often winds up with a cold, while I never due.

My suspicion is that politicians scrupulously avoid Airborne!