A presidential campaign is many things: a pageant, a carnival, a steeplechase, the world's most extensive -- and expensive -- job interview. A vote for president is likely the most personal you will ever cast. The office may be remote from our daily lives, but we like to know the candidates as human beings, not mere dispensers of policy.
Campaigns have changed, pamphlets giving way to e-mail, the whistle-stop to helicopters and YouTube. But there is one constant. Words and pictures are mainly how we meet the contenders.
Times photographers spent weeks chasing the White House hopefuls, capturing them on the stump and during less-guarded moments. Their photos paint a portrait of the contenders, one of whom will carry our hopes and burdens into the Oval Office.
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