Possibly the earliest campaign visit to Sandusky by a presidential candidate was in 1840, when William Henry Harrison, the Whig Party candidate, came to town. To commemorate his visit, several women of Sandusky (including Mrs. Eleutheros Cooke) created an embroidered banner in honor of the campaign (shown above in a b&w photo). The banner, showing a log cabin on one side and an eagle on the other, is on display at the Follett House Museum. This story behind this banner is related on page 13 of the October 1896 issue of the Firelands Pioneer, available in the Genealogy section of the Sandusky Library.
During his successful 1908 presidential campaign, William Howard Taft spoke at the Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Home (now the Ohio Veterans Home). The photo below shows the soon-to-be President-Elect with a group of local dignitaries outside of the Soldiers Home. Taft was a close friend of Sandusky resident Edward Marsh, and apparently visited the area several times for social occasions.
Taft's former political ally, Theodore Roosevelt, became his political opponent during the 1912 presidential campaign. Believing that Taft betrayed the progressive principles that formed the core of Roosevelt's beliefs, "TR" ran for president that year as the candidate of the Progressive Party (often called the "Bull Moose" party, in honor of a popular nickname for Roosevelt). In May of that year, Roosevelt gave a whistle-stop speech at the foot of Columbus Avenue to a large crowd of Sanduskians. Here is one of several images of that event from the library's photo collections:
In the 1916 election, Charles Evans Hughes was the Republican candidate for president, seeking to unseat President Woodrow Wilson from his position. In September 1916, Hughes gave a speech in front of the American Crayon factory on Hayes Avenue. (Unfortunately, that photo will not post properly on Blogger.)
Another interesting local story of presidential campaigns can be found in the November 11, 1940 issue of Life magazine. In an article titled "The People's Choice," the publishers used Erie County, Ohio as a microcosm for the nation, with images of local residents and descriptions of why they chose to vote the way they did. You can read the article, and see photographs of local residents of the time (as well as a picture of candidate Wendell Willkie in Sandusky), in the Sandusky Library. Ask a reference librarian for that issue of Life magazine from closed storage.