How Soon is Too Soon to Run for President?

January 6th, 2015


The Prize--1600 Pennsylvania Ave.  (

The Prize–1600 Pennsylvania Ave. (

When my first child was born, I was introduced to the now very common challenge of trying to enroll him in a good preschool program.

I mean that literally. 

It happened on the day he was born.

That’s a good thing because if we’d waited until he was two or three-years-old to begin contemplating where he’d learn his alphabet and the art of coloring inside the lines there is no telling where he’d have ended up.  That’s just the nature of preschool these days.  If you want your child in a good preschool program, you have to start very early.  In fact, he’s now eighteen-years-old and a freshman in college.  I suspect if I did a little research I’d find that prenatal applicants are the new norm.

I’m beginning to see this quest to be first in line extending into other areas of our lives.  Most notably, I see it in presidential campaigns.

It used to be that if a presidential candidate revealed himself too early he’d be greeted with mocking and ridicule.  It was akin to announcing your undying love on a first date.  It was just plain creepy.

That led to a common modus operandi among presidential aspirants.  Rather than be obvious about ones intentions, instead the candidate would publicly do everything indicating that he was running but even when directly asked he’d never dare admit that’s what he was actually doing.  Instead, he might say he hasn’t ruled it out or if he was an elected official (which most are) he’d say something like, “I was elected by the people of my state to be the best governor/senator/congressman and that’s what I intend to do.”  Notice that he’d never add, “Under no circumstances whatsoever would I run for president.”

Even candidates running in 2016 are following this model.  They may go to every clambake and pancake breakfast in even the most remote parts of Iowa or New Hampshire, but they don’t come right out and admit that they’re running for president.

They also carefully parse their words.  For example, when asked, Senator Elizabeth Warren currently states emphatically that “I am not running for president.” Technically, that’s true.  Right now, she’s not running.  In fact, if she said she was currently a candidate she could get in lots of legal trouble because there are a number of hoops you have to jump through when you’re actually running for president. She’s wise not to go there, but the bottom line is simple.  Just because she’s not running now doesn’t mean she won’t run when it really matters.

Still, I feel the trend is moving decidedly in a new direction.  It’s the Preschool Application Model for Presidential Campaigns.  Get your name in as early as possible or risk losing out.

While pundits are attributing this new phenomenon to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush in light of his recent announcement and activity, that prize really goes to Hillary Clinton.  Since her defeat in 2008, there should be little doubt that both Clintons have been doing everything imaginable to clear the decks for her presidential bid. Granted, she could always change her mind but she’s obviously made every effort to keep her options wide open.

With Mike Huckabee abandoning his Fox News Channel program to explore a presidential run, it’s very likely that we’ll soon be seeing a flood of potential presidential candidates reveal themselves for fear of acting too late. In fact, I was recently enjoying breakfast at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City when I noticed a very prominent politician enjoying a meal with a very important conservative kingmaker.  With all the activity lately, I expect to hear movement in that direction in relatively short order.

It will be interesting to see if this new trend in presidential campaigning becomes the norm or if it backfires.  Perhaps the public will grow tired of candidates whose campaigning lasts a decade or more.

Given all that, while I’m not sure if my children have any interest whatsoever in being president someday, I think it’s prudent to act accordingly just in case they do.

I hear family vacations in New Hampshire are quite nice.