"Casting about for a legitimate undertaking, Barnum outmaneuvered wealthier bidders to acquire John Scudder’s American Museum, in New York City, a five-story marble structure filled with stuffed animals, waxwork figures, and similar conventional exhibits. The new owner rapidly transformed the museum into a carnival of live freaks, dramatic theatricals, beauty contests, and other sensational attractions. Although driven at the outset of his career by a desire for wealth and fame, Barnum may have been basically motivated by less selfish reasons. “This is a trading world,” he wrote, “and men, women, and children, who cannot live on gravity alone, need something to satisfy their gayer, lighter moods and hours, and he who ministers to this want is in a business established by the Author of our nature.” Playing upon the public’s interest in the unusual and bizarre, Barnum scoured the world for curiosities, living or dead, genuine or fake. By means of outrageous stunts, repetitive advertising, and exaggerated publicity, Barnum excited international attention and made his showcase of wonders a landmark".
Of course, Barnum was a more complicated man than I can cover in this short post. He was a member of the Connecticut House of representatives for two terms, married twice, (marrying a woman 40 years younger than he was after his wife's death, a philanthropist, and a business tycoon. He wrote several books including "The Art of Money Getting".
But it is clear that even without social media he was well-known by the public and certainly could have given the ruling class of politicians a run for their money. Of course, most political leaders of his time would have been shocked if he had run and won an election.
A disclaimer: In no way am I making any inference about the contemporaneous time in our history where someone like P.T Barnum could be a President. Any inference would have to be provided by the reader!