The PJ Tatler

What are these people really running for?

The other day I was guesting on a radio show, and the host aired an interesting theory. His theory was that a certain GOP presidential candidate was not actually running for president. This candidate, he said, was actually running for a different office they they had already lost, and was using the presidential primary to raise their profile nationally, to make the other office easier to win next time around by making it easier to attract funding sources, experienced campaign staff, and so forth.

Now, I’m not sure I bought that theory about that particular candidate. But I do think it’s possible that several of the purported GOP candidates know they can’t win the nomination, or at the very least, that it will take an act of God-level change in the Republican electorate to make it possible for them to win. They know this. But they’re running anyway. The question is why?

Kicking the debate off, take it as a given that the GOP tends to nominate the next candidate in line, and that tends to be a governor. I’m not saying that that’s a good thing, just that it’s the way it is. That being the case, Gary Johnson probably knows he won’t win the primary. Newt Gingrich knows that now, and he probably knew it when he decided to run. Unless he thinks MSNBC and Time magazine are GOP kingmakers, Jon Huntsman has to know that he is a very very outside shot candidate. In their heart of hearts, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and a few others similarly know, at some level, that their shot to win is the longest of long shots, at least as long as Romney, Palin, Pawlenty and so forth are in (or probably in) and Perry and Ryan may get in. Donald Trump’s “run” now looks more like it was a negotiating tactic with NBC than an actual presidential run.

So what are some of these other candidates really running for?