I ran for president to win in both 2008 and 2012 despite being an extremely long shot. I ran to share my view of the necessary personal qualities a good president must possess. And finally I ran to do what I could to increase the number of good candidates running.
After studying presidential politics for forty years, I knew that it would be absolutely necessary for me to again have the proverbial “fire in the belly”, that overwhelming desire to win, if I ran a third time. In 2008 I had this quality in spades, visiting 6,000 businesses over a period of 100 days in both Iowa and New Hampshire, spending only $36,000. That year I placed tenth in both states. I possessed this quality again in 2012. In that difficult year for my business, having only $10,000 for the race, I became one of only two candidates in America who shared the stage with major ones at any time during that year’s long campaign for the nomination. And I did so at the Iowa Caucus in Iowa’s largest county, speaking to the world’s media while placing seventh there and later in New Hampshire.
All candidates the first time they run have this “fire in the belly”. And they often have it even more so the second time if they have done reasonably well the first. After becoming familiar with the process after one try, all candidates believe that they will do better the second time. And usually do. Witness George H. W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney who won their party’s nomination the second time out. And consider Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum who will be running a second time this go round-and one could arguably include Rand Paul in this group as he ran two of his father’s races for the Republican nomination early on.
BUT most lack this fire in the belly in doing it a third time. Recently, Mitt Romney briefly flirted with the idea of running again but quickly bowed out after seeing what it would take to compete against Jeb Bush’s intensity and money machine. And earlier, I observed a lack of this fire first hand when I visited with Steve Forbes on the day of the 2008 New Hampshire Primary. Having first met him at an earlier time, I saw him again while campaigning on “Radio Row” in the Radisson Hotel in Manchester, New Hampshire. He was there working for Rudy Giuliani. He had run in 2000 and 2004 and had come close to defeating George W. Bush in Iowa in his second run. To him I lamented the fact that he had not run a third time in 2008. He told me jokingly “I am just an agitator”.
So in running for president it seems as if I am no different than those who are known by all. Like others I have found I simply do not have the fire in my belly for a third run. And without having this quality no person ever should. It is instructive that some say that Romney lacking it in only his second try in 2012 caused his defeat as he did not eviscerate Obama with the Benghazi issue when he had the chance in the last debate.
Although I have gained some credibility from my efforts in running without resources the first two times, and it appears that some individuals would provide funding and support for at least a credible beginning, I felt it would not be fair to them or the party whose nomination I would be seeking to begin this process without the requisite fire in the belly. These individuals would rightfully expect that their candidate should do everything to win on their behalf.
But in any event I do feel that progress has been made toward the goals that I began with eight years ago of having candidates with good personal qualities running in larger numbers.
I and most experts believe the high quality and larger numbers of Republican candidates today is the best group of conservative candidates running for president in this century. In my humble opinion, with the exception of several, all of the candidates in the field have the personal qualities necessary to be outstanding presidents. Plus I believe individually they represent virtually every conservative viewpoint. Voters have a great selection to choose from.
And look at the trend: The number of candidates has been increasing since I first ran in 2008. In 2004 eleven ran in the New Hampshire Primary. In 2008 when I first ran I was one of twenty-one on the ballot. In 2012 I was one of thirty. It is my belief that in 2016 the New Hampshire Secretary of State should expect an even larger number.
And I like to believe that in some instances I helped things along. In 2014 I attended a fundraiser for Rand Paul who was raising funds in Texas for his U.S. Senate race in Kentucky. At the time I was making final arrangements for cataract surgery and as he was a practicing ophthalmologist we had an interesting conversation talking both shop and politics. Since my purpose in being a candidate has always been to show that anyone regardless of background can run for any public office, during the conversation I offered that I had run for president. Rand was respectful though incredulous asking first and then later in the conversation again “You ran for President?” . . . Not too long thereafter I saw Ted Cruz at an event who at the time was running for the U.S. Senate from Texas. In the course of discussing his campaign, I offered up the same. He too was respectful but tried to hide his incredulity. Not too long after winning their respective elections they both began taking steps toward a presidential run. And both have been the first to declare themselves as candidates.
While correlation is not causation, I like to believe that what I did and what I said to them and to thousands of others at different times over the last eight years has helped the conservative cause. And with candidates like these two and the remainder of the outstanding Republican field, in the fall of 2016 we will elect an outstanding leader and reformer who will bring back the America we love. And God will bless America’s future.
Vern Wuensche win-she