The annual political pilgrimage to the Iowa State Fair, which kicked off this week in earnest, promises to be a trying time for the presidential candidates — and not just because of the proud Iowan tradition of waggling phallic fried goods in their faces (though that’s certainly a part of it). This year’s crop of presidential hopefuls is an unusually body-conscious bunch: They are challenging each other to pull-up contests (Rick Perry), bragging about their “gym rat” proclivities (Bobby Jindal), tossing away the garlic bread and scraping aside the pasta (Jeb Bush), and getting involved in push-up contests (Bobby Jindal, again).
You don’t have to look far to find the roots of this new focus on fitness: The man they’re running to replace has been photographed shirtless on the beach by paparazzi. The last guy to win the GOP presidential nomination was a Ken doll for the over-65 set. His running mate showed off his P90x-sculpted bod in Time magazine. Is it any wonder that Jeb Bush asked the vendor who made his fried Snickers bar to throw half of it out before giving it to him on Friday?