|2. The End of the Presidential ‘Stroll’|
Before JFK’s assassination, presidents had much more freedom to travel around the capital without extreme protective detail. President Coolidge was known for his regular constitutionals around Washington, D.C., most often only accompanied by one body guard. Additionally, President Truman was also famous for his frequent walks around the capital with limited protective detail.
But Northeastern University Political Science Professor Robert Gilbert notes that after Kennedy’s assassination, unaccompanied, unplanned strolls were no longer an option for presidents.
“Kennedy’s assassination seemed to be the defining moment, perhaps because film clips of the event — shown repeatedly on television — were so horrific and traumatizing,” Gilbert said. “Now, presidents typically stroll nowhere except at Camp David and they no longer ride in open cars. The distance between the public and its leader has grown significantly — but for good reason.”
That doesn’t mean that a presidential “stroll” never happens, they’re just incredibly rare. In 2008 and 2012, President Obama and the First Lady took a very public, and protected, stroll down Pennsylvania Avenue after the inauguration.