The things candidates do and say to get elected in modern America may seem, well, less than befitting the dignity of elections in the world's oldest continuous democracy. By the standards of earlier eras in American political history, however, they are actually rather mild. Here is a description, by historian Richard Brookhiser, of how George Washington won his first political contest:
Washington ran for the House of Burgesses in 1758 while still serving as a colonel in the militia. He could not be at the polling place on Election Day, but he delegated a friend, Lt. Charles Smith, to tend bar in his absence. We know from their correspondence what the Washington campaign served: 28 gallons of rum, 50 gallons of rum punch, 34 gallons of wine, 46 gallons of beer, two gallons of cider (probably hard), for a total of 160 gallons of booze. There were 397 voters. Washington won. If you’re not the candidate of Change, be the candidate of Have Another.
As Brookhiser points out, in a nice piece on Washington's excellent and quite underappreciated political skills, such tactics were hardly unheardof in early American history.