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9 Presidential Flirts

How many ways can a politician say “no”—while still leaving the door open to a presidential run?

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How many ways can a politician say “no”—while still leaving the door open to a presidential run? From the attention seeker (Sarah Palin) to the one who spoke too soon (Barack Obama) to the new guy (Chris Christie), David A. Graham offers nine profiles.

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William Tecumseh Sherman set the standard for political straight talk nearly 130 years ago, when he said of the 1884 presidential election, “If drafted, I will not run; if nominated, I will not accept; if elected, I will not serve.” But there is a vast space between that statement and a simple declaration of candidacy. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is the latest explorer to venture boldly into that territory. Just weeks ago, he was singing a different tune. In November, he delivered his strongest statement. “I’ve said I don’t want to. I’m not going to. There is zero chance I will,” he averred. “But, yet, everyone seems to think that I’ve left the door open a little bit. But I don’t—short of suicide, I don’t really know what I’d have to do to convince you people that I’m not running. I’m not running.” Nowadays, he’s still denying he’ll run, but his resolve seems to have softened under the bright lights. Sources close to the governor told the Associated Press on Friday that he’s reconsidering his decision not to run. As he thinks it over, here’s a short history of presidential non-candidates’ non-denial denials.

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