This much is worth remembering: When he entered the national consciousness, he was considered something of a lightweight. Sure, he was camera-ready – a handsome, fit guy surrounded by an attractive family. But as someone asking the people to send him to conduct the serious business of the United States Senate, he had little in the way of a legislative record. On the podium, he was more than a bit wooden, delivering halting lines like a high school jock going through the motions in his run for student council. And the jock label fit. Even though he graduated from a competitive college, he had distinguished himself on campus as an athlete, not a scholar. In the special election to fill the seat of Massachusetts’s most famous senator, his main obstacle was a credentialed Democrat who had earned a reputation for competence as the state’s attorney general. The prospect of this neophyte ascending to the Senate threw members of the intellectual class into fits of apoplexy.
Yet in the art of retail politics, the agreeable guy with the handsome face was a star, quickly establishing himself as the superior candidate. It was more than just the stamina he showed in shaking hand after hand after hand. It was the pleasant doggedness and smiling ease with which he did it. He clearly liked campaigning because he clearly liked people. And people clearly liked him.
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