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Gingrich, Romney shake it in Florida

Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

U.S. Republican presidential candidate and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich shakes hands after a St. Lucie Meet and Greet event in Port St. Lucie, Fla., Jan. 28.

Oh, the handshake…

Shaking someone’s hand is a relatively intimate experience, as it can convey a decent amount of information about a person and should always be done, according to American etiquette, naked. Well, at least with a naked hand unless customs or health precautions suggest otherwise.

There’s nothing worse than a limp, too-smooth, sweaty-palmed handshake from a man that says, “I couldn’t tell a socket wrench from an Allen wrench to save my life.”

I want a handshake to be firm and have some texture … like the guy regularly does a little work outside. Maybe that’s because those are the kind of hands I grew up with in my family … my dad, my uncles, my grandfathers and my great grandfathers all either worked the land or worked construction to put themselves through school and had the rough, worn hands to prove it.

That being said, maybe not everyone is appreciative of the same sort of grip.

John Curran / AP file

Actress Elizabeth Taylor and former Navy Secretary John Warner, wave to supporters on Friday, June 2, 1978, in Richmond, Va., during Warner's campaign for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate.

I recall a story my dad tells involving two relevant topics here: his handshake and politics.

He was dragged by my mother to a political shindig for John Warner when Warner was running for U.S. Senate in Virginia in the late ‘70s, and Warner also happened to be married to Elizabeth Taylor at the time.

My dad and my mom were in the event-typical receiving line to shake hands with the couple. My mom ahead of him in all of her glory at those sorts of things, shaking and smiling while my dad did his best as the dutiful husband to grip and grin through his social pain.

Dad shook Warner’s hand first and then consciously went to ease his grasp a bit for Taylor. No sooner had he touched her hand, she began to shriek in pain. My mom shot my dad a look that could have killed as she turned various shades of crimson, while my dad looked for a table to crawl under as Taylor was tended to by her entourage. 

Come to find out, a blood vessel had freakishly burst in her hand just as she went to meet my dad’s grip, so it really wasn’t his fault, though I’m not sure how many people at the Strawberry Banks in Hampton, Va., knew it that night.

One thing is for certain, I don’t think my dad ever shook another politician or politician spouse’s hand again.

I wonder if candidates on the campaign trail remember events such as these as vividly as we do, or if they shake so many hands that a zillion palms in different cities simply add up to percentage points won or lost.

How about you? Any tales to tell of a memorable political palming?

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney shakes hands with supporters after delivering a campaign speech about innovation on Florida's Space Coast at Astrotech Corporation, Jan. 27, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. The commerical aerospace company provides satellite and spacecraft pre-launch processing and other services.

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