You see it during every election cycle — parents hand their young children over to campaigning politicians. The babies get a big kiss, and the politicians look a little more human in the eyes of potential voters.
The practice dates back to at least 1833 with President Andrew Jackson. As recounted in a later issue of Cosmopolitan, Jackson actually pawned the job off onto his Secretary of War, John Henry Eaton, according to Mother Jones.
The 1888 story in Cosmopolitan went like this:
"At this Jackson again raised his hat and said, 'I am he, and I am glad to know you. And is that fine boy your baby? Let me have him.'
The woman handed the dirty-faced infant to Old Hickory. Jackson took it and held it up before him.
'Ah! There is a fine specimen of American childhood. I think, madam, your boy will make a fine man some day.'
Then, with a quick gesture, he put the dirty face of the infant close to the face of Secretary [of War] Eaton, saying quickly and soberly, 'Eaton, kiss him?'
General Eaton pretended to do so with a wry face, amid the laughter of the crowd, and Jackson then handed the baby back to the happy mother."
Over the years, kissing babies has become a regular part of campaigning. While there have been some complaints — usually involving hygiene and safety for the child — the practice continues.
Life magazine looked into politicians kissing babies in a 1960 issue. The explanation offered was simple. "There is only one excuse for baby kissing: it works. The aim, whether the pol is a machine-backed hack or a machine-bucking amateur, is to win the votes."