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Sitting U.S. Presidents Love To Visit SF, but It Doesn’t Always Go Well

Written by Astrid Kane and RJ MickelsonPublished Feb. 19, 2023 • 12:00pm
U.S. Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy speaks to the audience during a campaign event at the Cow Palace in Daly City on Nov. 2, 1960. | OpenSFHistory | Source: OpenSFHistory

No president of the United States was born in San Francisco, but Warren G. Harding died here. One hundred years ago this August, the scandal-plagued Harding was on a tour of the West when he suffered a cardiac event in the Palace Hotel. Decades later, in September 1975, Sara Jane Moore fired two shots at Gerald Ford outside the St. Francis Hotel—a mere 17 days after another attempt on Ford’s life.

U.S. President Richard Nixon walks out onto the Lake Merritt station BART platform in Oakland after a short trip on the train on November 1972. | Larry Tiscornia/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Not every president has a brush with the Grim Reaper when they visit the Bay Area, however. Richard Nixon took a ride on a brand-new BART. Ronald Reagan hosted a dinner for Queen Elizabeth II at the de Young Museum. Bill Clinton campaigned on a cable car. And while running for reelection in 2012, Barack Obama famously made a pit stop at Chinatown dim sum palace Great Eastern Restaurant, dashing in to get some takeout dumplings.

View their visits in pictures.

U.S. President Barack Obama carries out lunch during a surprise visit to Great Eastern Restaurant for dim sum in San Francisco's Chinatown on Feb. 16, 2012. | Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

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