The Associated Press has been having some fun with the presidential candidates.
Rather than asking them for position papers or lists of endorsements, it's been asking lighthearted, personal questions for a running series on the "personal side of politics."
A Few of Their Favorite Things
So far, we've learned about New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's expertise in boxing trivia, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards' killer jump shot, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's clogged gutters and Sen. Chris Dodd's, D-Conn., desert-island wish for coffee with cream and sugar.
But when you're running for president, listing your favorite anything is no casual matter. So what do their answers tell us about what kind of people they are -- and what kind of presidents they'd be?
Good Read on a Would-Be President
Asked about the last work of fiction he's read, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., went highbrow by choosing "Gilead" -- a Pulitzer Prize winner that just happens to be set in Iowa.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., went old school, naming Hemingway's "A Farewell to Arms."
Romney went tough guy, picking Vince Flynn's "Term Limits," a thriller labeled by Library Journal as "a rightist political manifesto."
Three candidates scored easy political points with their choices.
Richardson labeled the Bush administration's energy plan a work of fiction, and Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., had a similar designation for the Democrats' proposal to balance the budget.
To Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., the book version of the Al Gore-inspired Oscar-winning documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," also qualified as fiction.
Sens. Joe Biden, D-Del., and Dodd were sure to offend no one -- expect maybe book critics -- by listing John Grisham books.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., apparently missed the point of the question; she chose a work of nonfiction: Doris Kearns Goodwin's Lincoln biography "Team of Rivals."
Rockin' the Vote
And then there are the last songs the candidates bought.
Clinton purchased some Carly Simon -- perfect for her demographic. Edwards went with U2 -- a popular choice for the populist candidate. And Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, helped his crunchy credentials by picking supporter Willie Nelson.
Obama's pick could speak to the campaign bubble -- or maybe it's just that Obama doesn't listen to much music. The last album he bought was the soundtrack from "Ray," the Oscar-winning film about the life of Ray Charles that was released nearly three years ago -- when Obama was still in the Illinois state Senate.
On the Republican side, the music tastes skew even older.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's last purchase was Verdi's "Macbeth," originally recorded in 1847. Tancredo went with Frank Sinatra, and Romney bought Roy Orbison -- perhaps a better choice for his father's campaign, in 1968 -- though he quickly specified that he downloaded his songs from iTunes.
Mike Huckabee's choice was perhaps the most surprising -- the goth-rock group Evanescence -- though their Little Rock roots could explain the band's appeal to the former governor of Arkansas.
And McCain's latest purchase was an inside joke -- "The Very Best of the Beach Boys," whose classic "Barbara Ann," McCain famously noted, sounds a lot like "Bomb Iran."
Cats and Dogs, Republicans and Democrats
But, perhaps the Arizona senator and two-time presidential candidate should keep his sense of humor.
The series just revealed McCain's virtual zoo: his pets include Sam the English springer spaniel, Coco the mutt, turtles Cuff and Link, Oreo the black-and-white cat, a ferret, three parakeets, and 13 saltwater fish.
And we thought the presidential race was crowded.
It's a little less crazed at the governor's mansion in New Mexico where Richardson hosts only cats Jake and Squeaky.
Richardson, who worked in the Clinton White House, can claim another policy difference with rival and former first lady Hillary Clinton.
The Clintons have a Lab named Seamus, presumably to ease the loss of the former president's Buddy, a Labrador retriever who, after a long battle with his nemesis and Clinton family cat Socks, was killed in an accident after their time in the White House.
Socks, once daughter Chelsea Clinton's cat and perhaps tired of the political limelight, left the White House with Clinton's secretary Bettie Currie rather than retire to Chappaqua.
On the Republican side, Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., cannot rival McCain's ark but does claim two dogs, two cats and a fish.
The former New York mayor has no pets and neither does Tancredo. Romney's family recently lost Marley, a Weimaraner, and both Hunter and Huckabee enjoy the company of two dogs each.