Soapbox roundup: Six 'candid' campaign shots from Iowa State Fair

Politicians flocked to the historic Iowa State Fair in Des Moines to rouse support for the state’s early primaries – and sample some pork chops.

Jim Young/Reuters/File
A boy waits in line to get tickets for the rides at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, Aug. 15, 2015. Over the last week, presidential candidates flocked to the fair in the hopes of cultivating voter support for Iowa's early primaries.

The Iowa State Fair is back in Des Moines, and the nation’s presidential hopefuls are right there with it.

The annual 11-day event, a time-honored Midwest tradition that draws more than a million people every year, is also a customary stop for campaigning candidates hoping to stir up support for Iowa’s early primaries on Feb. 1. This year’s fair, which opened Wednesday night, drew the likes of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, and other White House contenders while also featuring deep fried nacho balls and a life-sized cow made entirely of butter.

Here are some of the more interesting snapshots of the country’s would-be presidents enjoying some of the fair’s attractions. Be warned: There’s pork aplenty.

The Donald chomps on a pork chop on a stick, an Iowa State Fair must-try, on Saturday. Mr. Trump was one of five candidates to make an appearance at the fair that day, but even without making small talk with locals or answering policy questions, as most politicians do, the Republican frontrunner – who arrived by helicopter – easily drew the largest crowds, Bloomberg reports. Photo courtesy of Jim Young and Reuters.

Hillary Clinton, here buying a pork chop after waiting in line, was less flamboyant, arriving via SUV, taking time to mingle with voters, and fielding questions from the press about her private email server, according to CNN. She also seated herself a few rows back from the stage to listen to rival candidates give stump speeches, though she declined to give one herself, Politico reports. Photo courtesy of Charlie Neibergall and the Associated Press.

Throwing a baseball on the midway was only one of Jeb Bush’s many activities – including breaking his diet by sampling the grilled pork chops – when he stopped by the fair on Friday. The former Florida governor spent considerable time with voters during his four-hour visit, telling NBC News as he left: “Fantastic, really enjoyed it. Trying to break the course record for the number of handshakes in a four hour period." Photo courtesy of Charlie Neibergall and the Associated Press.

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson mixes business and pleasure on Sunday as he goes up on the Sky Glider for an interview with Timothy Meinch of the Des Moines Register. Dr. Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, also took time to address voters from onstage, though he declined to take questions from the audience, according to the Register. Photo courtesy of Charlie Riedel and the Associated Press.

Former US Senator of Pennsylvania Rick Santorum, here grilling pork burgers, took to the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox Saturday to highlight his efforts against abortion in an attempt to make himself stand out from the 16 other candidates vying for the Republican nomination, according to KCRG. Photo courtesy of Joshua Lott and Reuters.

Democratic hopeful Martin O’Malley takes a selfie with two of his four children, Grace and William, in front of the fair’s 600-pound butter cow on Thursday. During his turn on the soapbox, the former Maryland governor challenged Mrs. Clinton to take questions from voters during the fair (she didn’t) and strove to portray himself as “a next-generation candidate for the party,” The Hill reports.

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