When Presidential race and caucuses are close, the candidates seem to be busy in “working a lope line” as in the following examples:.

  • Wolf needs to work on his rope line speed. - www.pennlive.com/.../gov - Jnuary 20. 2015

  • Caucus Click: Romney works the rope line. After his campaign event in Mobile, Ala., was canceled due to rain, Mitt Romney spoke to supporters who waited outside along the rope line. - New York Times March 12, 2012

  • Ever see Bush work a "rope line"? Remember when we had a president who did? - Democratic Undergroundcom.

Though it’s imaginable, but what does “work a rope line” exactly mean?

Does it refer to candidates’ shake-hands, hugging, and speaking to supporters in line? Is “work a lope line” an idiom? Is it applicable to “rope line work” with fans of personalities such as actors / actresses and singers other than politicians?

2 Answers 2


It's rope line with an "r." It refers to a line of supporters at a politician's public event. The supporters are kept behind a rope stretched between stanchions. The politicians walks down the line shaking hands, and chatting with people. This is called "working the rope line," akin to the terms "working a crowd" or "working a room," meaning to meet and greet groups of people successfully. Here are some tips if you ever have to do it. Here is a video of of candidate Mitt Romney working a rope line in Sanford, Florida the day before he became private citizen Mitt Romney. At about :40 in you can see the rope.

  • This article titled working the rope line compares different candidates behavior.
    – Graffito
    Aug 9, 2015 at 9:27
  • @Deadrat. Thank you. The video of Mitt Romney's working a rope line scene gave me an instant comprehension of what it looks like. It's great. We never see such gleeful exchanges of enthusiasm and goodwill between politicians and supporters in Japan, where I think grassroot Democracy isn't there yet. Aug 9, 2015 at 20:40

Work the room (Wiktionary)

(idiomatic, of a host, hostess, or guest) To interact enthusiastically with the attendees at an event, by moving among them, greeting them, and engaging them in conversation. "As a campaigning politician, he really knew how to shake hands, kiss babies, and work the room."

(idiomatic, of a performer or public speaker) To interact with one's audience, taking cues from its reactions and adapting one's performance or words to elicit the audience's attention and enthusiasm.


work the crowd (idiomatic) To work the room, especially out-of-doors.

Rope line (Wikipedia)

A rope line is a rope, often covered with velvet, that separates celebrities from a crowd. It is hung from portable metal or plastic posts. In American political terminology, a politician "walking down the rope line" or "working the rope line" is shaking hands of his or her supporters and guests.

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