June 22nd, 2007
04:51 PM ET
9 years ago

You must be 'this tall' to be president?

From left to right: Teddy Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Bloomberg, John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and George Washington.

From left to right: Clinton, Edwards,Obama, Bloomberg, Romney,McCain, Giuliani.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – The taller you are, the better chances you have at becoming Leader of the Free World. Or so says New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has suggested size matters.

Earlier this week, the former Wall Street billionaire fueled speculation that he is considering an independent White House bid after he dropped his affiliation with the GOP. On Wednesday, Bloomberg, again, flatly denied he was a candidate, and has joked that his height may figure into that decision.

"How can a 5-foot-7, divorced, billionaire Jew running as an independent from New York possibly have a chance?" Bloomberg asked in May.

If indeed height plays any factor in the 2008 presidential race, Bloomberg’s got plenty of competition. If he ran, given the existing field, Bloomberg would be the shortest male contender, and only one inch taller than his fellow New Yorker, Democratic White House hopeful Hillary Clinton.

Among the remaining top polling GOP and Democratic candidates, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama are the tallest – Romney is at 6-foot-2 inches, and Obama is at least 6-foot-1. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani both measure in at exactly 6-feet each; while Arizona Sen. John McCain is 5-foot-9 inches.

We may never know to what extent – if any – a candidate’s height plays in voters’ minds; but based purely on the numbers – if recent elections are any indication – size does matter: shorter candidates generally win.

Take the last four presidential races: In 2004 and 2000, 5-foot-11 inch President George W. Bush defeated taller, Democratic rivals, 6-foot-4 Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and 6-foot-1 former Vice President Al Gore, respectively. Six-foot-3 inch former Vice President George H.W. Bush lost by a wide margin, and a half-inch to shorter, to  former Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton in 1992. But former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole got the short end of the stick in 1996 when Clinton defeated the 6-foot-1 Republican. Clinton is an inch and half taller.

The further you go back, the less height would seem to matter. Former Presidents John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and George Washington were all 6 feet or taller. President Theodore Roosevelt was 5-foor-8 inches. James Madison (not pictured) is the shortest president in American history at 5-foot-4 inches.

Abraham Lincoln stands the tallest at 6-foot-4, but that could all change if former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson jumps into the 2008 race: at 6-foot-5 inches he stands a full 10 inches taller than the current New York City mayor.

What do you think? Does height matter to you? Was this a helpful or interesting post or just plain ridiculous? Add your comments below.

soundoff (173 Responses)
  1. Alix Weill, West Palm Beach, FL

    I found it interesting

    June 23, 2007 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  2. Philippe, Los Angeles, CA

    Is this really what we are polluting our minds with? Well, I'm not losing any sleep analyzing the idiotic trend of presidential height, even though I am 6ft4 and could state that taller is better, but that's not the case. What voters should do first is analyze who they relate to based on candidates policies, voting trends, party affiliation and other important things to weigh in when picking the next leader. Actually, the first thing voters should do is register, and secondly, GO AND VOTE, because it seems to me that many people hopped on the Michael Moore bandwagon and rallied against Bush the last time around (and by all means, I don't blame them one bit), but when election day came around, they were "too busy." Well, thanks to all of those whose apathetic stance cost us "four more years" of war-ridden deficits, lies and endless corruption on all levels of government. This time around, MAKE YOURSELVES HEARD, and not only in the anti-war rallies or in arguments with co-workers, neighbors and friends but when it counts: in November.

    June 23, 2007 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  3. Jared Markowitz New York, NY

    Is this some sort of joke? Correlation does not imply causation. Further, are we seriously wasting our time reading a news article about this? Is this what our mainstream media has come to? You, right there, the one reading this sentence, close this window and go read something from which you can actually learn.

    June 23, 2007 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  4. Joshua Stone Mountain Georgia

    I think it is bull it wrong ok theirs a myth that if your not tall that means your not weathly and you are poor and mulnurtation.

    June 23, 2007 12:56 am at 12:56 am |

    Size matters. You have to be at least 6 feet to have a reasonable chance. 6 1 3/4 Obama will beat 6 2 Romney!!

    June 23, 2007 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  6. Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky


    June 23, 2007 02:29 am at 2:29 am |
  7. CW Moore College Grove, TN

    Well, the minute I spent reading this innane story is a minute I'll never get back. The 30 seconds I've spent typing this message is another wasted amount of time!

    June 23, 2007 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  8. Anonymous

    The recently elected president in France (Zarkosy) I thinks is about 5'7".
    We will have to see if like Napoleon(also not very tall), Zarlosy does a good job...he did very good as minister
    If he does maybe size does not matter..

    June 23, 2007 03:58 am at 3:58 am |
  9. philip, nashua, nh

    Indeed size does matter in today's standard because appearance plays on the minds of voters, but this was not so in the yester-years–when visual mediums were limited. We don't want to admit this superficial side our social conscious, the truth hurts in this case.

    June 23, 2007 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  10. jd,md,ca

    There is never a black president, maybe not just height matter but also race and the color of a persons face. And if height determine presidency, not many women will be president or there will never be any.

    All these comes to the questions and wonders of hey how about models, can fat people be models? This is one reason it drive women in our society to depression and ideal perfection.

    June 23, 2007 06:58 am at 6:58 am |
  11. Mark Gardner, High Point, NC

    If you ask me, if you go by his stature in terms of achievements and accomplishments, W is an inch off the floor!

    June 23, 2007 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  12. Chris C.

    I'm dumber for having read this column.

    June 23, 2007 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  13. Charles, Manassas, VA

    Ridiculous. I would hope that your political commentary will be more substantive in the future. If you wish to be taken seriously, act serious.

    June 23, 2007 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  14. Tom, New York NY

    "Hitler, Mousilini and Tojo were little guys, as was Napolean"

    -yes, but Winston Churchill was shorter than all of those guys (except maybe Tojo). It's funny that when people give examples of short world leaders, they always pick the "bad guys". Also, the new president of France is 5'5".

    June 23, 2007 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  15. Mary, Beaumont, CA

    Who cares?

    June 23, 2007 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  16. Mike Fahy

    One question. On CNN when they did this report, they said that Romney was 6'2", and that Obama was at least 6'1". So why does Obama appear to be taller in the picture?

    June 23, 2007 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  17. james, miami,ok.

    Are you trying to say height is now one of the qualifications to be U.S. President-or do you mean a tall idiotcan be President?

    June 23, 2007 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  18. Mike Smith, Reno,Nevada

    Shorty Bloomberg would be an excellent addition to the mentally short field of Democrats.

    June 23, 2007 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  19. R. Roger Beck, Scottsdale, AZ

    The post was interesting, but useless. A more meaningful analysis would be one conducted not long ago. It shows that since 1956, there was only ONE President who left office with higher approval ratings than when he came in. Only ONE. It wasn't Ronald 'Gipper' Reagan. It wasn't Richard "I am not a crook' Nixon. It wasn't George H. W. 'Read my lips' Bush, or even Gerald 'Oops!' Ford. That's right folks! The ONLY President since 1956 to leave office with higher approval numbers was William J. Clinton! Take that, right-wingers!

    June 23, 2007 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  20. Ann, mid-Michigan

    I am taller than half the candidates, and tower over Sentator Clinton so I guess I will be the first female president. Send me money so I can start running ads with me standing back to back with each candidate!!

    June 23, 2007 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  21. R. Roger Beck, Scottsdale, AZ

    Earlier today, in this space I posted that in the last 50 years only one President ended his term with higher approval ratings than when he began. I failed to attribute the source of that analysis. The article appeared in the Wall Street Journal online edition and covered the years from 1945 through 2005. The Gallup organization appeared to have supplied the raw data and the WSJ appeared to have performed the analysis. If anyone wishes to verify, the link is: http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/info-presapp0605-31.html

    June 23, 2007 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  22. Billy Montgomery Waynesville, Missouri

    The height of a leader does matter to the public. When world leaders gather the public actually compares height first and for some unknown reason height does matter to the public. Call it stature, credibility or just the idea of command prescence but height does matter to them.

    June 23, 2007 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  23. Mary, Beaver, PA

    Travis and Rob: I wrote: "Tall presidents have always been the rule rather than the exception." No one (I hope) consciously votes for a president, based on height, but what is impressive when you review the heights of our 43 presidents is that MOST of them were taller than average. It is unfortunate that height should be an issue at all.

    June 26, 2007 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
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