In an earlier tweet, I asked the question: would the president bring Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton to Scranton, Pennsylvania, with him when he arrives there tomorrow? He chose Biden, but a case could be made for either, given the family roots there for both.
Hillary’s father was a standout high school football star at Scranton Central High School, and then played at Penn State. Hillary was baptized at the Court Street United Methodist Church, close by the family residence at 1042 Diamond Ave. The family moved to Chicago where her father opened a fabric store. Later the Rodham family settled in the Park Ridge suburb of Chicago. The family maintained ownership of a lakeside cottage on Lake Winola, where Hillary and Bill visited. Earlier this year, Hillary turned over her ownership part in the cottage to brothers Tony and Hugh.
Biden lived in Scranton until he was ten when his father moved to Wilmington in 1953, where he was an automobile salesman. Biden returned to the city frequently during his political career. He still has cousins in the county, and often talked about Preno’s, his favorite downtown restaurant, which is no longer operating there. Biden was referred to as Pennsylvania’s third senator; his frequent visits in the state and his presence in the Philadelphia media market made the claim ring true.
Fifteen presidents have visited Scranton and the surrounding area, beginning with Rutherford B. Hayes. In more recent years, notably during presidential election years, Bush and Kerry made the city and region their first post convention stops. Obama campaigned four times in the area when he sought the presidency in 2008, of course, the visits prompted by a five-week primary contest in Pennsylvania with then Senator Clinton.
For a relatively small city, now about 75,000 folks, Scranton has produced more top elected state officials in the last 60 years than any other Pennsylvania municipality: two governors, Bill Scranton and Bob Casey Sr., one US Senator, Bob Casey Jr., and one Lt Governor, Bill Scranton, III.
Few towns have a passion for politics like Scranton. Perhaps it’s the Irish Catholic root of its residents, or the tough coal mining heritage, or perhaps it’s just a genetic disposition for the game.
Thanks to Scranton Times reporter Boris Krawezeniuk for assistance in the blog post and check out below the wonderful account of presidential visits to Scranton and the surrounding area.
Publication Date: August 16, 2013 Page: 10
Presidential visits Since 1878, 15 U.S. presidents have visited the region.
RUTHERFORD B. HAYES, 19TH PRESIDENT Hayes, his family and several Cabinet members attended the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Wyoming in Luzerne County, on July 3, 1878.
THEODORE ROOSEVELT , 26TH PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT visited the region twice. The first was as president in Wilkes-Barre in August 1905, to attend an event honoring his friend, Father J.J. Curran. The other was in Scranton in August 1910, after he left office, to research an article he was writing for The Outlook magazine.
WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT, 27TH PRESIDENT Taft stopped in Scranton in October 1917, after he was president, to speak at a Liberty Bond rally at the Watres Armory. Mr. Taft was a good friend of Scranton Mayor J. Benjamin Dimmick.
FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, 32ND PRESIDENT Roosevelt visited Scranton on Aug. 17, 1936, as his first re-election approached.
HARRY TRUMAN, 33RD PRESIDENT Truman visited Scranton several times. His first was as a senator to attend the funeral of U.S. Rep. Patrick Boland in 1942. As president, he stayed in the area for three days in late October 1948 campaigning for re-election. His last visit was in March 1956, after he was out of office, to speak at the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick dinners in Scranton and Pittston.
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, 34TH PRESIDENT Eisenhower stopped in Scranton in July 1948, when he was president of Columbia University.
JOHN F. KENNEDY, 35TH PRESIDENT Kennedy visited the region twice. The first and most famous visit was in October 1960, when he was running for president and passed through Hazleton, Wilkes-Barre and Pittston on the way to Scranton, where he spoke at the Watres Armory. His second visit was in September 1963, when he dedicated the Pinchot Institute for Conservation Studies at Grey Towers in Milford.
LYNDON JOHNSON, 36TH PRESIDENT Johnson stumped for re-election and the election of others, including attorney James Haggerty to Congress, in October 1964 at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Airport.
RICHARD NIXON, 37TH PRESIDENT Nixon visited first in 1960, when he was campaigning for president, and in October 1968 when he ran for president a second time. His last visit was in September 1972, when he toured Wilkes-Barre to survey the damage caused by Hurricane Agnes.
GERALD FORD, 38TH PRESIDENT Ford stopped by Scranton in June 1978 to speak at the annual dinner of the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce, then as he campaigned in May 1986 for Republican congressional candidate Marc Holzman in Wilkes-Barre.
JIMMY CARTER, 39TH PRESIDENT Mr. Carter came to Scranton on campaign stops on April 22 and 26, 1976, as he sought the Democratic nomination for president. He returned on Sept 7, 1976, as he ran against Ford for president, to attend a pro-life rally at the Hilton Inn on North Washington Avenue. On Oct. 15, 1980, he held a town meeting in Pittston, and on Oct. 17, he stopped by the Peperno home in Old Forge. In 2011, President and Mrs. Carter attended a benefit at the home of Larry and Diane Cook of Plains Twp. On May 28, Mr. Carter spoke at the Wyoming Monument, which commemorates the Battle of Wyoming.
RONALD REAGAN, 40TH PRESIDENT Reagan first visited Scranton on Oct. 3, 1960, to help launch the Lackawanna United Fund annual campaign. At the time, he was a television and movie star. In June 1978, Reagan spoke at a Wyoming Valley Medical Society event. His next two visits were in 1980, when he was running for president, speaking at the airport on April 21, and in Wilkes-Barre onOct. 1.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, 41ST PRESIDENT Mr. Bush’s first two visits to Scranton were in 1980, when he was campaigning for vice president. He visited again in April 1988, when he was campaigning for president.
BILL CLINTON, 42ND PRESIDENT Mr. Clinton has visited the region numerous times, first in his younger days, because the family of his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has roots here and vacationed at a family-owned cottage at Lake Winola. He made his first campaign appearance in Scranton on Nov. 1, 1992, and spoke at the airport. He visited Scranton in April 1993 for the funeral of his father-in-law, Hugh Rodham, a Scranton native. His next visit was in May 2007, to attend the christening of his niece in Scranton. On Oct. 12, 2008, Mr. and Mrs. Clinton and vice presidential candidate Joe Biden all spoke at a campaign event at Riverfront Sports. Prior to the campaign stop, the Clintons were at Court Street United Methodist Church for the christening of their nephew. He returned the next month for a rally for U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski at Wilkes University. On Aug. 10, 2010, he made a brief stop at the Glider Diner in Scranton while in the city to attend a campaign rally at Scranton High School for U.S. Senate candidate Joe Sestak. He came back in late October to again stump for Mr. Kanjorski at John S. Fine High School in Nanticoke. On Nov. 5, 2012, Mr. Clinton campaigned at Scranton High School for Mr. Obama’s re-election.
GEORGE W. BUSH, 43RD PRESIDENT Mr. Bush visited Community Medical Center in Scranton in 2000 as he ran for president, then returned three times during his 2004 re-election campaign, stumping at Lackawanna County Stadium in Moosic the day after the Republican National Convention in September and the next month at the F.M. Kirby Center and at what was then the Wachovia Arena in Wilkes-Barre Twp. He also had two official visits and another campaign-related visit. In January 2003, he spoke at the University of Scranton on medical malpractice insurance reform. He spoke about winning the war on terror on Veterans Day 2005 at the Tobyhanna Army Depot. On Oct. 19, 2006, he stumped at Keystone College for the re-election of U.S. Rep. Don Sherwood, making a side visit afterward to Manning’s Ice Cream & Milk in Clarks Summit.
BARACK OBAMA, 44TH PRESIDENT Mr. Obama paid four visits to the region during the 2008 presidential campaign. His first stop was on March 17, when he spoke at the Society of Irish Women’s annual dinner at the Radisson at Lackawanna Station hotel. Then, as part of a statewide bus tour, he stumped April 1 at Wilkes University and the Dunmore Community Center. On April 20, he spoke at the Riverfront Sports complex, then had breakfast the next day at the Glider Diner in Scranton with Sen. Bob Casey. On Sept. 5, he visited Schott Glass Technologies in Duryea. He returned for his only previous visit as president on Nov. 30, 2011, speaking at Scranton High School.