Last July, I announced my intention to run for President in 2020. At the time, 16 people had declared they wanted to be President on the Republican line for 2016, and it meant there would be this huge free-for-all. I didn’t want to be part of that. But inasmuch as people were throwing their hats into the ring a year a half before the election—something unprecedented until last July—I thought I could join in, raise some money during these 18 months by getting the trickle-down overflow from everybody else so, when the smoke cleared after the election in November 2016, I’d be well positioned for a clean shot at getting elected President in 2020.
I announced. I made a video. I didn’t apply to anyone to do that. I was under the assumption that any person in America could simply throw his hat into the ring and become President of the United States without having to get anybody’s approval. And I was right about that. You just do it. This is America.
Now I’m wondering if that is a good idea.
Consider it. A guy today can come into a state office—you have to apply with every state separately to be put on their ballot, and the amounts to pay do differ, otherwise you miss out in that state. Anyway, you do that and you’re off and running.
So a man walks in and sits down. A clerk pushes a two-page application across his desk. And the man looks around. Behind him, standing by the door, are two personal body guards with machine guns.
“Just fill this out,” the clerk says.
“Hey, Bugsy,” the man says to one of the body guards. “Come over here and fill this out.”
“You’re supposed to fill it out,” the clerk says.
“He’ll fill it out for me. I’ll scribble my signature. I can’t read. Is there some requirement that I have to be able to read?”
Bugsy comes over, leans over the applicant, with the barrel of his gun pointing to a chandelier, takes a pen and starts entering things. He stops and asks the applicant questions.
“Chief? You been an American citizen for more than 14 years?”
“Born in America?”
“Come on, Bugsy. Where do I sign?”
“You over the age of 35?”
“Just write yes.”
“Then there is this. It’s long.”
“It’s about term limits,” the clerk says.
“It says ‘No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President, shall be elected to the office of the President more than once.’”
“Yeah, that’s me. Where do I sign? Here?”
“And the fee is $5,000,” the clerk says.
The applicant turns to the other bodyguard. “Spike, peel off five big ones,” he says, and the other body guard, using a small key, opens a suitcase he’s been carrying, peels off some big ones and hands them to the boss who hands them to the clerk.
“Congratulations,” the clerk says. “Any party affiliation?”
Bugsy speaks. “Not yet, ma’am. But we’re workin’ on it.”
“I’ll need that petition signed by 5,000 people by the end of next month,” the clerk says.
“We’ll have it by then,” the applicant says. “Piece of cake.”
As they leave, Bugsy turns to the applicant and says, “Way to go, boss.”
And that’s it. Times 50.
So you need to put up pretty big bucks to get your name on the ballot in 50 states. But that’s why they have fundraising—not only for that but also to pay for people who can give you speech lessons, measure you for well tailored suits, style your hair, give you briefings on the issues of the day, and drive you around the country in your private plane or black SUV to deliver stump speeches. You’ll also need the 20,000 people to sign your petition saying they approve of you running for President—it’s no commitment they’ll vote for you, just that they approve you running.
Anybody would be willing to sign that.