We now bring you the conclusion of our two-part feature on Jesse Ventura (click here to read part one). The former Minnesota Governor is considering an independent run for U.S. Senator or possibly even President of the United States in 2008.
In his new book, Don’t Start the Revolution Without Me, Ventura wrestles with the toughest question of all: “Should I do it?”
And the second toughest question: “who should I take with me?”
While he never fully answers the first question — leaving readers in suspense at the end of the book — he has the second one all figured out. Ventura wants Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as his Vice Presidential running mate.
Actually, Jesse makes it clear in the book that he’d be perfectly content to play second fiddle behind a strong presidential contender. After reading of their conversation below, one gets the impression that if Kennedy preferred the top of the ticket, Ventura would happily give it to him. You’ll notice, for example, that never once does Ventura mention anything about Kennedy being VP; it’s clear that he’s not there to offer RFK the number two slot.
Sure sounded like a great idea. Now all Jesse had to do was somehow convince Kennedy to run with him. And so off he went to ask Bobby The Question.
I mean, the really big question: “Do you — or don’t you — want to run this country?”
Read on for Bobby’s answer…
VENTURA ASKS KENNEDY: “DO YOU WANT TO BE PRESIDENT?”
The meeting took place late last year in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where RFK was vacationing with his wife Mary, and their children. Ventura had heard that Kennedy was coming, and since he only lived about 90 minutes away, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to ask…under the perfectly innocent guise of a diving trip, naturally.
Arriving around lunchtime at Kennedy’s rented Moorish-style vacation home, Ventura held Kennedy’s young boys spellbound with stories from his pro wrestling and Navy SEAL days. Before long, Ventura had completely charmed RFK’s kids (always a wise strategy when trying to convince them to let you borrow their father for the next four to eight years).
After a day of diving with Bobby and his son Conor at the edge of the continental shelf, Ventura carefully began turning the conversation a bit more political. He broke the ice by telling a few tales about his teaching fellowship at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
“What did you teach?” Conor asked.
“Third-party politics,” I told him, and added: “Something your dad doesn’t know anything about!” Bobby laughed.
Back home again, the adults retired to a balcony overlooking the ocean and watched the sunset. Now seemed like the time. There wasn’t going to be another moment like this one. Never one to miss his cue, Ventura dove right in:
Now we got heavy into politics. We both spoke about how outraged we are concerning what’s happening in America today. We talked about the “war on terror.” Robert said the Iraq War has done nothing but create more terrorists. When I described myself as a fiscal conservative who is liberal on social issues, Mary said, “That describes Bobby, too.” We seemed to be finding considerable common ground between us…
…Sitting down again, I looked across at Robert and asked him, matter-of-factly: “Do you want to run the country?”
“What did he say?” Mary responded.
Robert stood up. After a pause, he said quietly: “Yeah, I want to.”
(Wait, WHAT did he say?)
Bobby added that someone with the Green Party had asked him to consider becoming its candidate in 2008.
“Oh, don’t do what Nader did!” I told him. “You should leave the Democrats and run with me as an independent.”
Was I serious? Robert looked at me quizzically.
“I’m the most powerful man in America!” I announced. “Do you know why?”
“Why?” Mary asked, wide-eyed.
“Because I’m the only one who can unite both parties against me!”
We were hot into this when (Bobby’s son) Finn, who was doing headstands behind us, suddenly crashed into the Ping-Pong table and raised a big welt on his foot. Mary said she’d better run upstairs and get some ice.
I realized it was time to go.
First, though, I approached Robert, who was also standing on the stairs, one more time. Again I urged him to go independent.
“I am independent,” he said. “You should become a Democrat.”
“I’d lose all my credibility!” I exclaimed.
“We’ll keep talking about it,” Robert said.
…He stood on his front step and saluted, with a big grin on his face, as I drove away.
Heading home that night, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. If Robert Kennedy, Jr. ever ran for president as a Democrat, it would be no surprise to anyone. Just another Kennedy going for the brass ring. But if, because he can’t stand what’s happened to politics today, he left the party and ran as an independent, it would – to borrow a phrase from Muhammad Ali – shock the world!
Our thoughts precisely, Jesse.
Ventura fully realizes that now is the time for bold new leaders to step forward, and he’s ready to get down to business right away. It’s time to put partisan bickering and party politics aside for a much greater mission. The world can’t wait.
Now Ventura has an offer on the table for Kennedy. He’s also considering a run against Al Franken in the Minnesota U.S. Senate race. RFK Jr. is reportedly thinking about reclaiming his father’s Senate seat, or possibly running for another office in New York State. These two men have some big decisions to make in the days ahead — because they seem to realize just how many people are counting on them.
Then again, maybe they should just run for the White House on a last-minute, grassroots, why-the-hell-not independent ticket. It certainly would give the people a lot of hope, even if Ventura/Kennedy (or Kennedy/Ventura, whichever you prefer) statistically could not win. These two would bring critical issues to the campaign the two-party candidates won’t touch, and give independent voters a far more viable option than Ralph Nader or Bob Barr.
No disrespect intended to either Mr. Nader or the Honorable Mr. Barr, but is this the best the independent/third-party movement can offer in 2008? Isn’t a superstar independent candidate going to emerge? America needs one (or two) desperately! Who’s going to step up?
As the man says on page 302 of Don’t Start the Revolution Without Me, “you can’t go through life waiting for the other guy to do it.”
At which point, his wife Terry chimed in with a trumpet blast of truth: “That’s what’s wrong with the country right now!”
Copyright RFKin2008.com. Book excerpt copyright 2008 by Jesse Ventura.