Would any modern American president ever risk getting this close to the people?

The video below shows Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a face to face encounter with a young Iranian woman in Bandar Abbas on April 10. Whatever she had to say to him, he seemed pretty unfazed by the situation.

Saeed Kamali Dehghan writes: When Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took office in 2005, he pledged to visit all 31 Iranian provinces at least twice during his presidential term. The plan drew criticism from the beginning; the opposition accused him of populism by trying to promote his own profile, and said he was wasting money and time.

But many people loved it. Pictures of thousands of people in provinces waiting for the presidential motorcade, desperately running after his car to catch a glimpse or shake a hand and, as it became popular later, to hand him a letter of request, became familiar in state TV’s rolling coverage of his visits.

When it became apparent that Ahmadinejad’s office actually responded to many of the letters – often requests for grants or loans – more and more people turned out to greet him. Agency pictures showed a hardworking Ahmadinejad taking a nap on the floor on tour and a documentary was even made called Letters to the President.

But as his popularity dwindled, especially in the aftermath of the 2009 disputed presidential elections, his provincial visits became less triumphant: pictures (such as this image from the western city of Tabriz) showed humiliatingly small crowds turning out to greet him.

This week, a dramatic video was posted on YouTube showing a young woman jumping on to Ahmadinejad’s car. The footage drew a great deal of attention, with the Times describing the woman as a “motorcade heroine”. Elsewhere, the Telegraph said Ahmadinejad had been mobbed by “hungry protesters”.

Watching the video, it’s impossible to make out what the woman is actually saying to the president, but there is nothing to suggest the incident was any different from previous occasions in which petitioners have mobbed Ahmadinejad. A similar incident happened earlier this year in Hormozgan province, in which another woman sat on his car.

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One thought on “Would any modern American president ever risk getting this close to the people?

  1. Tom Hall

    If a young woman tried the same thing with Obama’s entourage, I doubt that the Times would describe her as “the motorcade martyr”. But that’s what she’d be- stone cold dead.

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