Selfies — the campaign schedule spoiler


A woman takes a selfie with British Prime Minister David Cameron as he meets local people in Harrow, northwest London, on May 12 during campaigning with Mayor of London Boris Johnson ahead of European Parliament and local elections  May 22. (Stefan Rousseau/AFP)

Selfies have changed the way we document our own personal history. But they have also fundamentally changed the way politicians, particularly well-known ones, interact on the campaign trail.

Shaking hands, kissing babies and autographing campaign signs no longer suffice when canvassing for votes. Voters are much more interested in capturing themselves cheek-to-cheek with the candidate in a close-up selfie than, say, discussing the economy.

And it’s a time suck.

David Cameron, the British prime minister campaigning for local Conservatives this week, told London’s Evening Standard that all the picture-posing makes the meet-and-greet component of campaigning take much longer.

“You can be walking down the street for a chat, but until you’ve got the selfie out of the way, people aren’t ready to talk. Not only do they want a photograph but they want to actually take it themselves, thanks to the new technology,” Cameron told the newspaper.

One might recall that Obama, shortly after the melodrama over his selfie with Boston Red Sox player David Ortiz, denied a little girl’s request in South Korea for a selfie, telling her that if he took one with her, he’d have to take one with everyone along the rope line.

Perhaps no one running for public office this year understands the selfie craze better than Clay Aiken, the Democratic nominee in North Carolina’s 2nd congressional district. A fairly well known commodity from his American Idol days before his foray into politics, the singer is constantly asked to pose for photos. He offers to take them himself to save time, he told the News Observer in late February.

Here’s a few examples of Aiken has selfie photographer:

For a candidate working to endear himself to voters, it would be terrible politics to say no to a selfie.

As if it wasn’t hard enough to keep those guys on time, selfies are a campaign scheduler’s newest nightmare.

Colby Itkowitz is a national reporter for In The Loop.
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