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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Presidential impersonator delivers popular message

  • It’s been over 100 years since Teddy Roosevelt was president of the United States, but his words brought shouts of “bully” from a group of retired teachers in Hannibal Tuesday morning.
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  • It’s been over 100 years since Teddy Roosevelt was president of the United States, but his words brought shouts of “bully” from a group of retired teachers in Hannibal Tuesday morning.
    Impersonator Jim Kreider hit on some of Roosevelt’s talking points - the need to fight big business, that every American deserves a fair deal and the importance of old age pensions - during remarks before the Marion-Ralls unit of the Missouri Retired Teachers Association (MRTA) at the Hannibal Nutrition Center.
    “We have very similar political views,” said Kreider of Roosevelt, a Republican who was the nation’s 26th president, serving from 1901–1909. “I’d vote for him and I’m a Democrat.”
    One sentiment of Roosevelt’s that Kreider tried to pass along Tuesday was to “not listen to critics and do what’s right.”
    Although now the executive director of the MRTA, Kreider has political roots. He was a member of the Missouri House from 1993 to 2003, serving as its speaker between 2001 and 2003. It was during his time in the House that the idea of portraying Roosevelt came about.
    “People told me I looked like him,” said Kreider.
    On Tuesday, Kreider very much looked like the former president from his hat, to his nose-hugging glasses, to the dark brown with white stripes, 1890s-era “sack” suit he wore.
    “I can’t see how they wore these wool suits. They’re hot,” said Kreider as he prepared to step into the air conditioned nutrition center. “That was during a time when it was improper to roll your sleeves up or take off your vest.”
    While adjusting to wearing a wool suit in the summertime has taken some getting used to, the biggest adjustment was learning to keep on the Roosevelt-style glasses, which are not equipped with ear hooks.
    “There’s a trick to wearing them,” he said, noting that a piece of string is attached to one end of the frame, so if the glasses slip off his nose they will not shatter on the ground.
    All totaled, Kreider estimates he has invested $1,200 in his Roosevelt attire.
    Kreider has been impersonating Roosevelt for approximately a year. His biggest audience was at a conference in San Antonio this summer.
    “I have fun with it,” he said.
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