Humpty Dumpty probably deserved his fall. For Bob Dole, the Republican presidential candidate, to take an undignified spill while campaigning for votes in Chico, California, was a vicious twist of fate, writes John Carlin.
Lagging far behind President Bill Clinton in every national poll during the final run up to the November election, in part because of the perception that at 73 he is too old to be president, Mr Dole will be haunted by the thought history might judge the photograph of him lying flat on his back with a grimace on his face as the image of the 1996 election campaign.
After a stage railing gave way he tumbled 4ft to the ground, his fall mercifully broken by a scrum of photographers gathered below the podium.
But, seemingly unhurt, the Second World War veteran said: "I think I just earned my third Purple Heart going over the rail."