- Running for president involves maintaining a careful and professional image.
- A lot of the candidates looked very different before public life.
- Read Business Insider’s round-up to see how 14 of them looked.
- Visit Business Insider’s home page for more stories.
Candidates for President of the United States will spend years crafting their public image and honing the perfect resume before launching their bid, consulting an army of public relations specialists along the way.
But they weren’t always that way.
Business Insider though has unearthed images of some of this year’s challengers at high school which show them in a different light, before they became public figures.
Not every candidate has a publicly-available photo, or responded to Business Insider’s requests with a new image – but most contenders are represented.
Bernie Sanders: James Madison High School, Brooklyn, New York, 1959
Bernie Sanders was a high school track star, coming third in the New York one-mile track race. He was also captain of the cross-country team.
He went on to forge a career as a firebrand left-winger, serving as mayor of Burlington, Vermont, and later US Senator for Vermont, a position he has held since 2006.
He unsuccessfully sought the 2016 Democratic nomination, losing to Hillary Clinton, but has relaunched his campaign for 2020.
Joe Biden: Archmere Academy, Claymont, Delaware, 1961
Biden was another star athlete at high school, helping the school’s underperforming football team to an undefeated season in his senior year. He has credited the priests at the Catholic private academy with helping him overcome a stutter.
He recalled his school days in an attack on Trump, claiming in 2017 he would have “beat the hell out of” the president if they were studying together, because of Trump’s treatment of women.
He went on to represent Delaware in the US Senate for 36 years, before serving as vice president in the Obama administration.
Elizabeth Warren: Northwest Classen High School, Oklahoma City, 1965.
Elizabeth Warren’s record as a high school debating champion won her a shelf of trophies and a full scholarship to George Washington University, which she got at the age of 16.
The Democrat went on to work in public schools and as a law teacher, before being elected to the US Senate to represent Massachusetts in 2011.
Pete Buttigieg: St Joseph High School, South Bend, Indiana, 2000
Pete Buttigieg excelled academically at high school, and was valedictorian in his graduating year. He was even voted “most likely to become president” in the school yearbook.
After graduating, he studied as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University and went on to serve as a naval intelligence officer. In 2011, he was elected mayor of his home town.
He is the first openly gay man to run for president, and has surprised many with his strong showing in polls of Democrat challengers.
Beto O’Rourke: Woodberry Forest School, Virginia, 1991
At the private, all-male boarding school Woodberry, O’Rourke won prizes for his writing, ran track, and found a love for punk rock.
He went on to represent the Texas 16th district in the state House of Representatives, and almost pulled off a shock victory in the deep-red state when he challenged GOP Senator Ted Cruz in the 2018 mid-terms.
Donald Trump: New York Military Academy, 1964
President Donald Trump was sent to military academy aged 13, reportedly because his father thought it would teach him discipline.
His academic performance there is something of a mystery, as Trump has long fought to keep his transcripts out of the public eye.
At school he reportedly excelled at baseball, and was well-known for bringing women onto campus.
After graduating he attended Wharton Business School, before launching himself into real estate development, and becoming part of the New York celebrity circuit. He won the presidency in 2016.
Kamala Harris: Westmount High School, Quebec, Canada, 1981.
Kamala Harris is from Oakland, California, but went to high school in Canada when her mum moved there for work.
She graduated from Westmount High School near Montreal in 1981. Former classmates remember her as a confident, popular pupil, who loved to dance.
She returned to the US after graduating, training as a lawyer and becoming District Attorney of San Francisco before being elected to the Senate as a Democrat in 2016.
Cory Booker: Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan, New Jersey, 1987
Booker was a star football player at high school, and was named to the 1986 USA Today All-USA high school football team.
After graduating, he worked as a lawyer, and served as mayor of Newark, New Jersey, before being elected to the US Senate in 2013 to represent New Jersey.
Andrew Yang: Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire, 1992
Yang was a big fan of alternative UK bands during his high school years, and in March he tweeted out this picture of himself with centre parting wearing a long coat.
“Well it looks like my senior year yearbook photo is about to make the news in a feature about candidates when we were young. Sharing it here so you can see what I was about in 1992. Favourite bands: the Smiths and the Cure,” he tweeted, after Business Insider contacted his campaign to ask for a photo.
After school Yang studied at Brown University and Columbia High School before becoming a highly successful entrepreneur. He was named as President Barack Obama’s 2015 Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship.
Jay Inslee: Ingraham High School, Seattle, 1969
Governor Jay Inslee was another gifted athlete at high school, leading the school basketball team to a state championship. Academically, he was a honours-roll student, winning a place at Stamford University. He also met his wife, Trudi, at high school.
He has served as Democratic governor of Washington state in 2012, and has championed environmental causes.
Amy Klobuchar: Wayzata High School, Plymouth, Minnesota, 1978
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar excelled academically at school, graduating as valedictorian in 1978 and winning a place at Yale.
She went on to study law the University of Chicago, served as elected attorney in Minnesota’s Hennepin County, and was elected to the US Senate in 2006.
Julian Castro: Jefferson High School, San Antonio, 1992
Castro was a keen sportsman at high school, playing football, basketball and tennis. His twin brother, Joaquin, attended the same school, as did Ana Sandoval.
All three went on to serve as elected representatives.
Julian Castro was elected as mayor of San Antonio in 2010, and served as secretary of housing and urban development in the Obama administration.
Eric Swalwell: Dublin High School, California, 1999
Representative Eric Swalwell went to high school in California, around a half-hour drive east of San Francisco.
He shared some of his high school memories with Business Insider, starting with regret over his hairdo.
“My top lesson from high school is that there are smarter uses for bleach!
“But seriously, my high school English and speech & debate teacher helped me overcome my fear of public speaking; some might say she did too good of a job.
“And my high school economics teacher helped lead me to a career in public service, becoming a lifelong mentor and friend who is still among my top advisers today.
“The lesson is that a good school with great teachers can change a student’s life, and every American kid deserves that, no matter their ZIP code.”
Swalwell was elected to the House of Representatives in 2012 to represent California’s 15th district running on a Democrat ticket. Prior to this, he had studied at the University of Maryland, and worked as a district attorney.
Mike Gravel: Assumption Preparatory School, Worcester, Massachusetts, 1949
Former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel wasn’t able to find us a picture from his high school years, but did send us through a lesson from his early years
He studied at Assumption Preparatory School, and has spoken about how an inspirational English teacher helped him overcome his dyslexia and raise his grades.
He campaigned to end the draft for the Vietnam war in the 1960s, and served as Senator for Alaska from 1969 to 1981.
His lesson from high school? Don’t be afraid to be a maverick.
“Being popular is important, but it’s not nearly important as being courageous,” he told Business Insider.
Seth Moulton: Phillips Academy Andover, Massachusetts, 1997
Massachusetts congressman Seth Moulton was reportedly a keen organ player in high school, and continued playing after graduating to study at Harvard.
It was while practising at a college church that he met his mentor, Reverend Peter Gomes, who inspired him to join the Marines just a few months before 9/11. He was one of the first US Marines to enter Baghdad during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
He was elected in 2014 a Democrat to represent the Massachusetts 6th congressional district.
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