The title says it all. Imagine the candidate has some sort of medical restriction and can't leave his house. He or she can talk personally only with limited number of people. Can he entrust all the paperwork to his representative and run a presidential campaign from the Internet?

I'm talking only about the campaign itself, not fulfilling president's duties after successful election.

  • IIRC, the first Presidents did little to no campaign at all, as asking for votes was thought to be demeaning for them, and campaign was entirely done by their supporters. Of course, given the lack of mass media, an extensive network of supporters was needed to have any options at winning.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 0:02

2 Answers 2


Traditionally, at least as late as 1860, it was considered crass for a presidential candidate to personally campaign for the presidency. I.e. they normally didn't go out in public for campaign purposes.

Part of this was that for the first century or so, it could take months to travel from one state to the most distant one. It's only in the last century or so that it was possible to travel from Maine to Georgia in just a few hours.

This is somewhat confused in that we talk about things like the Lincoln-Douglas debates as being important in the 1860 race for president. This sounds like they were debating as presidential candidates. However, they were not. They published the text of their debates from the 1858 Senate race in Illinois. The first debate in the general election for president was in 1960, also the first televised debate.

The practice of active campaigning is older than debating, but for at least half the nation's existence, candidates did not themselves campaign. It seems quite possible that an incumbent could say something like "I'm going to concentrate on running the country. I hope you like the job I'm doing and vote for me, but this is a full time job that does not leave time for campaigning." They generally don't do this because they want to personally encourage turnout to win legislative races.

In general, the requirement to get on the ballot is to have your campaign collect and submit signatures. I don't think that there is any state that requires the candidate to appear personally. This is normally done by the campaign organization.


No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

That's what the Constitution says on the eligibility of becoming the President. There is no legal obstacle to never appearing in public.

  • So there would be no problem with getting his name on the ballot in all 50 states? Can it be done through the representative? Commented Dec 6, 2017 at 21:48
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    @StanislavPankratov There's no legal problem with it although each state has its own laws and procedures for deciding who will actually be on the ballot. I don't think any of the requirements are "candidate must have appeared in public" Commented Dec 6, 2017 at 21:53
  • @StanislavPankratov and of course it bears repeating that we're only talking about legal hurdles as politically and practically, no one is going to have a chance at winning if they refuse to (or can't) appear in public. Commented Dec 6, 2017 at 21:54
  • @StanislavPankratov Presidential candidates do not get on ballots. While candidates' names appear on ballots, voters are not, in fact, voting for them. Voters vote for electors, and electors vote for candidates. Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 3:06

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