Running For President May Have Its Perks

Glenn Thrush of Politico talks about how fringe candidates tend to represent outside interests and politicians trying to get their names back in the news.

By Rhonda FanningJune 26, 2015 11:58 am

Louisiana Republican Governor Bobby Jindal added his name to the 2016 presidential race this week. Next week, we expect to hear New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie do the same. With the seemingly endless stream of folks tossing their hats into the ring, one has to wonder what compels them to do so. NPR’s David Greene tackles this question in a heated conversation with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

So, why do it? Why spend all the money and time running for president? Texas Standard’s David Brown sits down with Glenn Thrush, senior staff writer for Politico, to find out.

On fringe candidates:

“There’s a long tradition of these, sort of outsider candidates running for any number of reasons. When you look at this sprawling Republican field, and the not-so-sprawling Democratic field, there are a wide variety of candidates running for a wide variety of reasons.”

On Bernie Sanders’s campaign:

“Bernie Sanders is a good example. Bernie Sanders actually has already had a significant impact on the platform that Hillary Clinton seems to be proposing … A lot of what [Clinton] is working on is influenced by the Elizabeth Warren/ Bernie Sanders wing of the party, so Sanders is not a joke candidate. We had a poll recently in New Hampshire … where Sanders is essentially within the margins of error. He was 20 points down about a month ago. So in a state like New Hampshire, he can compete and make some noise. It’s not likely he’s going to be able to erect a national organization but Sanders wants to get his issues felt – a fair hearing. There is a wide feeling on the Democratic side that President Obama has not been the progressive standard bearer that they had hoped for and they want the next candidate to be influenced by the rather rapid movement left of the party.”

On the tiers of Republican candidates:

“Particularly on the Republican side, I think you’re dealing with three distinct tiers of candidates. The first tier I roughly put Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker and then in a pretty beefy central tier of serious candidates like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. Then you kind of have some of the lower rungs where you’d put your Ben Carson, perhaps Pataki and the most recent entrance Donald Trump. But we’re sitting here making these rankings and, if you look at some of the polls, Ben Carson for a long time was leading in Iowa, and Donald Trump is closing in on Jeb bush in New Hampshire. A lot of that stuff will sort itself out but you know there really is a process here.”

On the perks of running for President, even if you lose:

“If you look at Mike Huckabee, one of the first stories written in the cycle was his contract with Fox … Ben Carson was a Fox contributor, you remember what he did for Sarah Palin, who just recently got dumped by Fox News. Carly Fiorina timed her announcement with the release of a book. So you have people who, yes, there is a commercial or career incentive. If you look at a guy like George Pataki, who I think is a very interesting, kind of also ran at the moment…really been out of the political spotlight for 10 years. He’s just trying to get his name back in the news.”

On Republican candidates using their party:

“So this is the problem that the Republican national party has been dealing with for a long time. This is something democrats don’t deal with. A lot of people are using the Republican infrastructure as a way to do things other than get elected president. It has a lot to do with the externalization of politics from the parties. You haven’t really seen this necessarily on the Democratic side but on the republican side you have such powerful outside forces: the Super PACs, the Koch brothers, all sprung free by the Citizens United decision. And you have this torrent of right-wing radio, which is still a powerful outside influence. So the issue with the Republicans is all of these fringe candidates tend to represent these outside interests.”