The nascent third-party movement called Americans Elect assembled a dream team of prospective presidential nominees: Mike Bloomberg! Colin Powell! Chris Christie! Mitch Daniels! Condi Rice! Rick Santorum! Hillary Clinton!
There was only one problem: None of these candidates wanted the nomination. Neither did the other “draft” candidates who received support on the Americans Elect Web site, including Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Howard Dean, Donald Trump, Al Gore, Sarah Palin and David Petraeus.
Americans Elect had taken care of just about everything a third-party candidate would need. It spent about $35 million on marketing, technology and ballot access. As of Tuesday it had won a place on the November ballot in 28 states (and it still expects to be on the ballot in all 50 by Aug. 1). It had attracted 3.5 million people to its Web site. But what it couldn’t — or hasn’t yet been able to — do is persuade a plausible candidate to submit himself or herself to the ravages of a presidential run.
“We’ve had hundreds of [candidate] briefings,” Kahlil Byrd, the group’s chief executive, told me on Tuesday. “We have met with current and former governors, current and former senators, university presidents, think tanks, mayors of large cities and people who have been running Fortune 300 companies.”
But the main objection Byrd heard from these would-be candidates: “Do I want to put myself and my family through what it takes?” Looking at the prospect of running, Byrd said, candidates saw only negative ads and attack politics. Among would-be candidates, there was fear and loathing of “the permanent and negative campaign.”..
Americans Elect says it will announce its next steps on Thursday. But, really, the group already delivered on what it set out to do. The lack of takers suggests the political system is farther gone than the reformers realized.
16 May 2012
No third party in the foreseeable future
From a column by Dana Milbank at the Washington Post: