When Andrew Jackson ran for president the public was told that he was bigamist and that his wife, Rachel was a coarse pipe smoking backwoods harlot who would humiliate the country in front of European visitors to the White House. John Quincy Adams was accused of gambling (he bought a chess board and a pool table) and of giving his maid to the Tsar of Russia while he was a diplomat there. There were whispers that James Buchanan's fiancee did not die from illness but committed suicide because of something she learned about Buchanan. Lincoln was accused of being the son of a black man. In a time when having one drop of black blood could get you sold into slavery or if you were above the Mason Dixon line, cast out from your job, marriage and social connections, this was seriously vicious talk. He was also called an ape, a liar and a dog. Poor tortured Mary Todd Lincoln was accused of being a spy for the South. She was criticized when she entertained ambassadors during war time and paradoxically she was criticized for not doing anything social after the death of her youngest son and causing Washington to be no fun although the war was still going on. Andrew Johnson was accused of being an alcoholic.
Grover Cleveland was accused of having an illegitimate child and his opponents came up with the famous chant, "Ma, Ma, where's my Pa?" Cleveland's supporters responded with, "Gone to the White House. Ha, ha, ha!" Woodrow Wilson was said to have been an adulterer during his university professor days. It was also said that he and his second wife were fornicating before the marriage. Enemies of Warren G. Harding whispered that he had black ancestry. That claim hung around for many decades and has only been disproved this year with DNA testing.
There were people who tried to fear monger in Protestant USA by stating that Kennedy was going to a devout Catholic. Boy were they wrong! Poor Hubert Humphrey was accused by the Kennedy campaign of being a draft dodger. In truth Humphrey did try to enlist for World War II more than once but was turned down because he had a double hernia, calcified lungs and was color blind. Does any of this seem nicer than what we've seen and read in recent years?
Politics is a filthy nasty low down business and it was ever thus.