Historically, Indiana hasn’t been known to attract top political candidates, largely because our primary election date falls late in the race (May 3) and a fairly small amount of electoral votes (11). Despite this, Evansville has actually hosted quite a few Presidents over its more than 200-year history. Even though President’s Day was yesterday, let’s take a look back at some of the nation’s leaders who have visited the River City.
James K. Polk
The first confirmed U.S. President to visit Evansville, the nation’s eleventh President allegedly came to the city to deliver a short speech on the riverfront during a campaign trek down the Ohio river, though not much else is known about his visit.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
FDR made a stop in Evansville in 1943 to inspect Republic Aviation’s plant in the city, which was assembling P-47 Thunderbolt planes to fly during World War II. Though his visit was meant to be a secret, many in Evansville got wind of his tour and flooded airports and train stations, hoping to catch a glimpse.
Lyndon B. Johnson
President Johnson made a brief visit to Evansville in October of 1964. According to the Evansville Press, it was such a brief stop that LBJ landed, gave a speech, and immediately reboarded the Air Force One for takeoff.
Gerald Ford’s stay in Evansville was the longest of any sitting president. Ford was in Evansville in April 1976 during a heated primary race with Ronald Reagan. He spent a full day in the River City, giving multiple speeches, answering questions from the community, and even participating in a parade on Main Street.
“The Great Communicator” made his way to Evansville in 1986 to campaign for then congressional candidate Richard McIntyre. He gave a speech at a rally in the old Roberts Stadium.
The 45th President made two visits to Evansville, one as a candidate and one as president. President Trump stopped in Evansville in spring 2016 for a rally shortly before the Republican primary. The rally included a speech from former Indiana University basketball coach Bob Knight. In August of 2018, Trump flew into Evansville to campaign at the Ford Center for then Republican Senate candidate Mike Braun.