Since the fall of Senator Ed Muskie in the 1972 Democratic primary there has been an unwritten rule that political candidates should avoid crying. However, four presidential candidates cried in ten separate incidents during the 2008 election cycle, with only three episodes receiving negative attention. Addressing this inconsistency in the “Muskie rule,” in this essay I argue the effect of crying on a political candidate’s image is not well understood. As such, this essay develops and applies a framework for comprehending when crying will likely trigger a public relations crisis, and when it might actually benefit a candidate.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License



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