Jesse Ventura: I’ll Run for President if Bernie Sanders Loses

The former governor of Minnesota likes Trump and Sanders, but says he will get in the race by June if Hillary wins the Democratic nomination.

02.29.16 10:30 PM ET

MINNEAPOLIS — Jesse Ventura told The Daily Beast he will run for president if Bernie Sanders does not win the Democratic nomination.

Ventura was elected the governor of Minnesota as an independent in 1998 after serving as a Navy SEAL and professional wrestler. Ventura said his campaign was so successful at showing an outsider could be elected that Trump and Sanders are “ripping him off.” He bets he can do it again if Sanders loses and the election is Hillary Clinton vs. Trump.

“They’re setting the groundwork for me because if Bernie loses, by the time we get to June, how sick are the people going to be of all these people,” he said while dressed in a Jimi Hendrix shirt under a blazer and SEALs beanie.

“See, I’m an independent and I despise the two parties,” Ventura, who speaks as if he is prepared to tackle you, continued. “I love what Trump’s doing to the Republicans. He’s got them in complete disarray. In fact, it looks like the WWE when you watch their debates.”

As for who will prevail in the Minnesota caucus tomorrow night, Ventura really could not say.

“I support the revolution of what’s happening here,” Ventura said after telling a local that he worked for most “level-headed” news outlet (RT America). “There’s three things where I stand with Bernie on more so than Trump. Number one is campaign finance reform,” two is “the war,” and three is ending the War on Drugs.

Ventura’s main cause of concern with Trump is his hawkish nature, suggesting that the man who claims he will “bomb the shit out of ISIS” will get the U.S. stuck in more quagmires.

True to his independent streak, Ventura defended Trump for refusal to denounce the support of former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke.

“Anyone can endorse you,” Ventura said. “Why is it up to the candidate to denounce any endorsement? In our country you are free to vote for whoever you want to vote for. If David Duke wants to vote for Donald Trump, he’s welcome to do that. I think the media is out of line to think a candidate immediately has to denounce somebody.”

Ventura said the media should give Trump the “benefit of the doubt” for not knowing who Duke is (though Trump denounced Duke two days before the CNN interview where he refused to do so).

Ventura and Trump have crossed paths before, at Wrestlemania XX in 2004. At the event in Madison Square Garden, Ventura asked Trump if he would have his “moral and financial support” if he were to run for office.

“100 percent,” Trump said.

No matter what the outcome is on Super Tuesday and beyond, Ventura seemed excited to get back into politics, hoping to run alongside former New Mexico governor and libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, a personal friend.

“Jesse Ventura is a bright, shining new face who comes riding in on a white stallion to save the country,” Ventura said, describing what would be counted as one of the most surreal scenes in American politics.

Before taking up the politician mantle once again, Ventura may need to improve at one thing: taking pictures with fans.

“Don’t put it on the fucking Internet,” Ventura, stone-faced, said as someone snapped an iPhone picture with an excited admirer in the convention center.