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Politicians Kiss Babies

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When you're in charge of the most infamous dictatorship of the 20th century, it's important to set aside plenty of time for PR.
Mayor Dewey: Another reason you should re-elect me, I love babies. Will you look at that, a baby! Gonna kiss it!
Steven: Hmm, I like his policies on babies.
Buck Dewey: Man, he never kisses me like that.

When someone — usually a male someone — decides to run for public office, one of the things he is expected to do during the campaign is kiss the babies of female potential voters. Somehow this will prove that he's not evil and can be trusted to run the [country/state/county/city/dog pound] properly; presumably if he was evil, he'd be unable to resist the urge to take a bite out of it, or the baby would start crying loudly.

Subversions in which the baby is shaken, autographed, or otherwise mishandled by a confused candidate are common.

Exploited Trope of Friend to All Children. See also Photo Op with the Dog.


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    Comic Books 
  • A The Bash Street Kids strip has the teacher tell the class that they will be electing a head boy by democratic vote. Plug references the trope, by saying that politicians get votes by kissing babies. So he goes to kiss some at a nursery. But because Plug is ugly, the babies scream and he gets thrown out without a kiss.
  • On the cover of My Little Pony Friends Forever Issue 15, Mayor Mare is depicted kissing the forehead of one of the Cake twins. She is a middle-aged female politician, and the twins are infants who do not resemble either of their parents.
  • Blake and Mortimer: Weaponized in "The Voronov Conspiracy", where a great many Soviet and Western politicians suddenly start dying. It turns out the common factor was the politician kissing a young child who'd been unknowingly inoculated with a virus, with HM the Queen as the only exception. The girl assigned to the Queen had sickle-cell anemia, which neutralized the virus.
  • In Peter Milligan's run on Animal Man, the Angel triplets mention that they found out President Eagleton is a murderous Child Hater by reading his thoughts when he kissed a baby and seeing that he secretly wished he could get away with killing all children.

    Comic Strips 
  • Pearls Before Swine made a parody of this. Rat was trying to win the election, but he couldn't come to a baseball event, so he sent Pig in his place to kiss a baby and throw a baseball out to the field. This cost Rat the election, because Pig kissed the baseball, and threw a baby out to the field!
  • Bizarro (by Piraro) comic for April 24th, 2012. A Funny Animal cat politician is shown licking a kitten held by a female supporter.

    Fan Works 
  • The Bolt Chronicles: Played with in "The Baseball Game." Bolt isn't sure what he should do in his honorary Mascot role. He decides to emulate the behavior of local politicians in the recent election by doling out sloppy-lick kisses to babies and old ladies, giving paw shakes to the men and boys, and similar actions. Several people say he has more charisma than the two gubernatorial candidates and make comments to that effect.
  • Those Who Stand for Nothing Fall for Anything: Light has got this photo op covered.

    Films — Animation 
  • In An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, Cat R. Waul kisses Yasha to convince the mice that he's harmless.
  • In Metroman's first appearance in Megamind. He juggles some babies, then kisses one of them in front of a huge crowd (who already loves him).
  • In the opening of The Emperor's New Groove, Kuzco is presented with three babies to kiss. He simply stamps them with a kiss mark stamper.
  • In Moana, Maui asks Moana if the daughter of the chief should be at home kissing babies or something instead of adventuring. Moana just responds with a Death Glare.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Shaggy DA Wilby Daniels decides to run for District Attorney in order to clean up the corruption in the town. At one point he's talking with a female voter with a perambulator; the kid inside has a dirty, sticky face, but the woman gives him a look waiting for him to kiss her baby. He does so, leaving him with a faceful of chocolate. Just at that moment a photographer from the local paper decides to take Wilby's picture.
  • In The Hunt for Red October, NSC advisor Jeffrey Pelt tells Jack Ryan "I'm a politician, which means that I'm a cheat and a liar. And if I'm not kissing babies, I'm stealing their lollipops.".
  • In the 2012 film The Campaign the two candidates for office get into a fight over which is going to kiss a particular baby. Will Ferrell's character ends up punching the baby in the face when his opponent ducks out of the way.
  • In The Great Dictator, Adenoid Hinkel kisses some babies after a rally. The baby pisses on him.
  • In the 1944 biopic Wilson, Woodrow Wilson's wife and daughters persuade him to run for Governor of New Jersey. When he agrees, he jokes that they'll have to kiss the babies for him.
  • In The Candidate, Sen. Crocker Jarmon holds up a toddler at a rally, but doesn't kiss him. It's portrayed rather cynically, as is everything else about American politics in this film.
  • Pink does this in The Wall during his hallucination of being a fascist dictator.
  • In Spinning Boris, the American political advisors tell Yeltsin's daughter that her father needs to start doing that in order to win votes for his re-election. She initially refuses, pointing out that the Russian people expect a "strict father" type of ruler, a tsar. It takes a lot of convincing for her to accept it.
  • The Senator Was Indiscreet: A farce comedy about a bumbling idiot of a Senator, who runs for president. The film starts out with a dedication, which begins with "To every politician who has ever jeopardized a baby's health with unsanitary kisses...".

  • In "Tableau" by James White, this caused an interstellar war. Upon First Contact with an alien race (that looked like teddy bears), an astronaut decided to do this. Unfortunately, humans looked like a kind of animal on the alien race's home planet that had the habit of carrying off babies to eat them and the astronaut's motives were misconstrued.
  • Bad Kitty for President makes use of this trope, as it's an election parody where Bad Kitty is running for president of the neighborhood cats. The narrator brings up the kissing babies trope and has kitty kiss the baby of the humans she lives with.
  • The children's picture book Duck for President has Duck do this as part of his campaigning.
  • Parodied in Myth-Quoted, in which rival candidates for governor participate in a baby-kissing contest to see which one's kisses can get the most giggles and least crying out of hundreds of infants within a set time limit. When Aahz enters the race, he ducks out of having to by pointing out that his opponents' efforts are only spreading millions of germs between infants.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Late Show with David Letterman: In a joke about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Letterman said when running for office Christie "got confused. Kissed a blintz, ate a baby!"
    • Another Letterman gag: in "Top 10 signs [then Presidential candidate] Herman Cain is losing it."
      Kissed a picture of himself and signed a baby
  • Parodied in an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, where Mac tries to get a woman to give her baby to him so that Dennis can kiss it. Naturally, she's a little weirded out.
  • On Seinfeld Kramer runs for president of a retirement home's condo board; this involves treating some of the senior citizens there like the babies in this trope.
  • In the 1966 Batman (1966) series when the Penguin runs for Mayor of Gotham he kisses babies.
    • Defied by Batman who is running against him. He refuses to kiss babies because he doesn't want to spread germs. Unfortunately, the people around Batman refuse to understand his reasoning and are offended while the Penguin leaps at the opportunity to do so.
  • Subverted by "Mr Hilter" in Monty Python's Flying Circus while canvassing for the North Minehead By-Election.
    Mother: I gave him my baby to kiss, and he bit it - on the head!
  • In an episode of Sliders where Professor Arturo runs for Mayor of San Francisco, he screws this up by chasing after a woman shouting "Madam, I need to kiss your baby!"
  • My Hero (2000) has Piers Crispin kissing small children during his attempt to campaign for Mayor in one episode, though it backfires when he tries to kiss Ollie and gets punched in the face (Ollie being the son of George Sunday/Thermoman, and thus a superbaby).
  • One Saturday Night Live sketch dealt with a candidate committing numerous gaffes to increasing public outrage while trying to kiss babies on the campaign trail. This culminates in him getting egged in the backside and absentmindedly wiping it off with someone's baby.
  • In Gilmore Girls, when Jackson is running against Taylor as Town Selectman, at one point he rushes into Luke's diner (their makeshift campaign headquarters), demands "Give me the baby!", grabs his son, and leaves just as quickly. Sookie (said child's mother) and Lorelei wonder if he plans to sell it. We never technically see what he was doing, but odds are good he was invoking this trope.
  • Veep: During a campaign stop with some anti-vaxxer supporters, Jonah takes the opportunity to kiss a screaming baby. This may not have been the only one, since a major chicken pox outbreak seems to follow his campaign route.
  • The Man in the High Castle: Similar to the image trope, there's a propaganda video including a clip of an aged Hitler accepting a flower from a little girl.
  • The Monkees episode "Monkeee Mayor" when Mike is running for mayor Davy approaches a woman with a stroller and kisses her baby, presumably on Mike's behalf. The woman then throws herself at Davy. He escapes after her husband shows up but leaves them with a "Nesmith for Mayor" poster. Later Peter tries to kiss another baby and is swallowed up by the stroller. Finally Mike tries to kiss a baby who slaps him, the "baby" being about 40 years old and in cahoots with Mike's opponent.
  • The West Wing mentions this trope several times, usually in reference to Republican senator and eventual Presidential candidate Anrold Vinick. His ability to win over crowds with his charm, intelligence and genuine passion for the job is a large part of why the Democrats consider him such fierce competition.
    Leo McGarry: Shake every hand in the joint, kiss every baby, hug every widow on Social Security, and sound smarter and more honest than any Republican they've ever seen — because he is.
  • CSI: NY: In "The Lying Game," a politician just implicated in an unsolved sexual assault case turns from the accusing officers and heads for a woman with a baby. As he kisses the child's rattle, photographers immediately start snapping photos.

  • Mentioned in a MAD magazine article from 1962 (also an early version of the Russian Reversal): "Russian politics can best be understood by comparing them with American politics. For instance, in America, politicians have to kiss babies, and if they don't, the mothers can take their offices away from them. In Russia, the system is somewhat different. To get food, mothers have to kiss politicians and if they don't, the politicians can take their babies away from them."

  • Invoked by the cover art of Tankard's Two Faced album, which shows a literally two-faced politician holding a baby.
  • Elvis Costello's "Tramp the Dirt Down" was inspired by a picture of Margaret Thatcher kissing a crying baby.


    Video Games 
  • Borderlands 2: Angel tells the Vault Hunter that Handsome Jack uses body doubles of himself to do all his "hand-kissing and baby-shaking for him".
  • Mentioned in Escape from Monkey Island. Gubernatorial candidate Charles L. Charles actually LeChuck in disguise bids the protagonists farewell because he has "hands to kiss and babies to shake".
  • In the iOS game Highborn, when campaigning for Foozle, Monty orders his children to go out and hold a rally. Being dragons, he has to remind them to just kiss the babies, not eat them.
  • Referenced in Mass Effect 3 - Citadel. When asked how he'd turn Cerberus around, Joker says he'd make them popular again and launch a big P.R campaign - "shaking hands, kissing babes." Miranda tries to correct him, but he knows what he said.
  • Sunset Overdrive: There was a website that revealed information not in-game, such as a Noodle Incident involving the mayor and babies:
    Mayor [Arnold] Renner will be shotgunning the first honorary can of OverCharge of the evening. Please note: he won't kiss babies anymore since “The Incident.”


    Western Animation 
  • An episode of Recess has the equivalent for kids; kissing pets. The boys tries to discredit Gretchen (who's running against Vince for class president on a platform of "Girls for Gretchen", although she genuinely wants to do a good job) by having her asked to kiss a pet lizard. She gets out of it by claiming to have a cold.
  • In the Looney Tunes short "Ballot Box Bunny", Yosemite Sam's campaigning for mayor includes kissing babies, none of which seem to enjoy it. Bugs Bunny disguises himself as a baby and kisses him, then cries that "the bad man bit my widdle nose!", and all the women start to hit Sam over the head with their handbags and umbrellas.
  • In the The Powerpuff Girls (1998) episode "Impeach Fuzz", while the Mayor of Townsville is running for his re-election, he mentions that this trope is one of his favorite parts. Then we get to see him kiss babies as if they were on a conveyor belt.
  • Done in The Mask cartoon. Of course, when the Mask himself ran for the mayor, he kissed babes instead.
  • There was a nasty gag based on this in Family Guy, involving Peter kissing two babies but refusing to kiss a particulary ugly/deformed child.
    • Also, earlier in the episode, after learning that Lois is running for mayor, Stewie mentions she should be giving speeches, shaking hands, and kissing babies. When Lois does the latter:
    Stewie: Not this baby!
  • Futurama:
    Bender's Head: Great. First he steals my body, now he's touching my stuff.
    • "Attack of the Killer App" has Mayor Poopenmeyer kiss a baby robot before tossing it into a dumpster with the rest of the city's e-waste.
  • In Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law episode "Guitar Control", Phil tries this during one of his Presidential Election rallies, but mixes things up a bit.
    Shake hand, kiss baby, shake hand, kiss baby, shake hand, shake baby, kiss hand, shake baby, kiss hand...
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "The Mom Attractor," Dr. Doofenschmirtz's evil scheme is to create a giant baby that cries whenever his brother (the Mayor) kisses a baby, so people won't vote for him.
  • In an episode of Garfield and Friends, specifically the Orson's Farm/U.S. Acres segment, Roy Rooster kisses eggs when running for the title of "leader of the barnyard", since he is a male chicken, and chickens lay eggs.
  • An episode of The Simpsons has Mr. Burns running for governor, and there's a scene where he mentions that he needs to go off and do this.
  • In an episode of Rick and Morty episode "The Ricklantis Mixup", one of the Ricks on the citadel creates a baby clone of himself for the Presidential Candidate Morty to kiss.
  • In an episode of Dog City, Dogfather Bugsy Vile rigs a mayoral election and wins with just five votes. Among his duties are kissing babies and christening a ship with champagne bottle. Hilarity ensues when he gets the two just a little mixed up....
  • When the Flim Flam brothers appear in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic one of their acts during their Villain Song is to pick up Applebloom and kiss her.
  • Bowser does this in an episode of The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3. He's only able to go through with it thanks to a "Nice Guy Potion" cooked up by Cheatsy and Kooky.
  • In Chowder, Gorgonzola advises the titular character to do this when he runs for the president of the apprentices' club. They attempt this by sneaking into a hospital, and accidentally inciting the babies to riot.
  • Steven Universe: Mayor Bill Dewey does so very demonstratively in "Lars and the Cool Kids". His son Buck rather morosely claims that he never kisses him like that.
  • An example occurs in All Hail King Julien, when Juliennote  decides one of these would be a good way to boost his approval rating, which initially works well but things go awry when Mort uses his small stature to pass himself off as a baby to get a kiss.
    Mort: Everything I imagined it would be...
    Julien: Mort, I am busy winning everyone's approval!
    —>Mort: Well, you got my vote, Mr. President!
    Mort: I'll never wash this forehead again!
    Lemur: The king just kicked a baby!
  • The Sheep in the Big City episode "The Wool of the People" has General Specific and Sheep run for mayor. At one point, they get into a chase and briefly stop so they can both kiss a baby. Lady Richington, who was General Specific's campaign manager, is also handed the baby, but she doesn't want to kiss the child, so she has her butler do it.
  • The Dr. Zitbag's Transylvania Pet Shop episode "Horrorlection Fever" has Dr. Zitbag run for mayor. At one point, he has several clones of himself sent out to convince the denizens of Transylvania to vote for him. One of the clones is seen kissing a baby, who responds by beating him up.
  • In the Goof Troop episode "A Goof of the People", Goofy is instructed on how to be a politician and is informed by the How-To Narrator that he can earn more voters by shaking people's hands and kissing babies. Humorously, Goofy mixes it up by shaking a baby's hand and kissing a big guy who ends up punching him.
  • Alluded to in the Transformers: Rescue Bots episode "Mayor May Not", which has Chase running for mayor against Mayor Luskey. One scene has Chase shaking some potential voters' hands and asking them if they have any babies they'd like kissed.
  • In the C.O.P.S. (1988) episode "The Case of the Sinister Spa", Big Boss orchestrates a plot where the mayor of Empire City is hypnotized into making Berserko deputy mayor. One scene has Berserko as deputy mayor kissing a baby, who reacts by crying.
  • The Gravedale High episode "Save Our School" involves Vinnie Stoker (a vampire), Elephant Boy (a humanoid elephant wearing a bag over his head as a Visual Pun on Joseph Merrick) and Suey (a humanoid pig girl) running for class president. Suey at one point hands Max Schneider a campaign poster that depicts her kissing a piglet.
  • The Mike, Lu & Og episode "We the People", where Mike chooses to run for Governor of Albonquetine during Wendel's reelection, features a variant involving baby animals. Mike helps her approval rating by kissing a piglet, with Wendel failing to do the same when he attempts to kiss a baby porcupine.
  • The Tales from the Goose Lady short "The Egg Who Would Be King" has Humpty Dumpty kiss an infant during his campaign to become King of Fairy Tale Land.
  • In the Detention episode "Too Good To Be Truant" Gug kisses babies while running in a school election. Emmit pranks him by replacing the last baby with a pig that licks Gug's face.
  • Rugrats (1991): In "Tommy For Mayor", Tommy and Phil, respectively backed by Susie and Angelica, compete to be the leader in their group of friends. To get Phil on the voters' good side, Angelica tells him to kiss babies (keep in mind that Phil himself is a baby). Chuckie and Lil are not amused. When Tommy asks Susie if he should do this, Susie tells him it's not necessary.
  • In the Teen Titans Go! episode "Money Grandma", a time-displaced George Washington tries to kiss a baby while running against Robin for Teen Titans team leader, only for Robin to bump into him and make him cause the baby to cry by accidentally hurting the infant with his wooden dentures.

    Real Life (especially notable examples only) 
  • Vladimir Putin was also known to kiss fish for this purpose.
  • Punk rock vocalist Jello Biafra ran for mayor of San Francisco in the late 1970s and inverted the trope: he kissed hands and shook babies.
  • Romanian dictator Nikolae Ceaucescu used to do this. Problem: He was a germophobe, so the kids had to be... prepared before that.
  • Notably, Andrew Jackson was the first president to be offered a baby to kiss. He refused, instead complimenting the infant and then handing it over to his Secretary of War to kiss instead.
  • George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Mitt Romney have all attempted to hold or kiss babies, only for them to start crying. There are probably examples of other politicians also having this problem as well. A lot of babies don't like being held by strangers.
    • Although there was that funny YouTube video of Michelle Obama being given a baby to kiss, only for the child to start crying. She passed her to her husband, and the baby immediately became quiet.
  • The quiz website Sporcle has a quiz with pictures of American presidents and presidential candidates kissing and holding babies; the player is asked to name the politicians in the pictures. There is also an international version featuring politicians and leaders from around the world.
  • Inverted with Ron Paul who was once given a baby, only for the baby to kiss him on the cheek. (One would hope that babies like Ron Paul—he delivered babies for a living!)
  • A brief shot during the ESPN "30 for 30" Pony Exce$$ installment showed Bill Clements (former Governor of Texas and then chairman of the Board of Governors at Southern Methodist Universitynote ) during his run to return to the Governor's Mansion in 1986;note  with Clements having noted a baby he just kissed was the first time he did that in his 1986 gubernatorial campaign.
  • A notable – and notably twisted – example from Italy. In the wake of a 2019 scandal involving social services abusing their power and supposedly taking away children from perfectly normal families in a small Italian town (later revealed to have been overblown and wrongly pinned down on a rival party), Italian far-right politician and then-Minister for Domestic Affairs Matteo Salvini concluded a party rally by parading on stage a child whom he stated had been rescued from the system and given back to her legitimate family. The catch? It quickly turned out the photo-op was entirely manufactured to begin with, as said child was the daughter of a local supporter and had never even set foot in the vicinity of the town where the scandal had taken place.