As Donald Trump weighed his vice presidential options this week, former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura had one major concern.
“Donald Trump needs to pick a running mate who is more despicable than they believe he is,” the former wrestler and author of the new book Shit Politicians Say said in an extensive phone interview with The Daily Beast. “If he doesn’t and he picks a status quo Republican, don’t be surprised if he gets assassinated.”
Ventura, a political novelty himself who lets his stringy white hair hang down over Jimi Hendrix shirts and admittedly engages in conspiracy theorizing, wasn’t outright predicting the death of a major party candidate.
“I’m just saying that,” Ventura demurred. “Trump needs to make an insurance pick, someone who they’d fear more than him.”
The veteran of the WWE said he was that type of guy—a renegade the establishment would piss their pants over should he assume the office of the presidency.
“When I talked about running, I made mention early on that I was going to take Howard Stern as my running mate,” Ventura, who earlier this year vowed he would enter the presidential race if Bernie Sanders lost, said. Stern could raise a lot of money quickly for a potential Ventura campaign, he claimed.
In 2003, when Ventura was ending his term as governor, he jokingly came up with a foolproof plan to avoid assassination if he ran for president.
“I wanted Charles Barkley to be my running mate,” Ventura bemusedly said. And when the former NBA great heard the suggestion, he happily obliged, saying no one would kill Ventura and let Barkley take over.
Trump doesn’t seem to be leaning toward such a wildcard pick, though he has run arguably the most unconventional presidential campaign of all time. His top three (or seven or 10?) vice presidential contenders are veterans of the Republican Party, including Mike Pence, Newt Gingrich, and Chris Christie, who have all held office in the past.
If an assassination were to occur, Ventura knows who the powers that be would blame.
“With Donald calling illegal Mexicans rapists and murderers,” Ventura explained, “you got your perfect Lee Harvey Oswald fall guy.”
The former governor is not the first person to suggest that Trump might be killed during this election as backlash to his incendiary rhetoric. False-flag enthusiast and Infowars.com founder Alex Jones suggested the same thing in a February broadcast of his radio show.
“My gut says they’re going to kill Donald Trump,” Jones said at the time. “And that may be the plan, to cause a revolution, because we’re winning informationally and they want to start a physical revolution.”
Jones did not respond to a phone call or text message about whether he is still concerned about a possible assassination.
While these claims may appear outrageous, a 20-year-old British citizen named Michael Steven Sandford did make an attempt to kill Trump at a rally in Nevada earlier this year.
Unlike Trump’s red-faced radio booster Jones, Ventura has been noticeably absent in this wild election cycle, which would appear to have been ripe for his appearance. (He claims going to the airport is an ordeal because he has metal in his body).
Ventura said his claim in a February interview with The Daily Beast that he would run for president if Sanders lost the Democratic nomination came after the Vermont senator snubbed him when Ventura tried to talk to him at an event in Minneapolis.
“He said he would endorse Hillary,” Ventura claimed about his 90-second conversation with Sanders, who did in fact endorse Clinton this week. “He shouldn’t call himself an independent anymore. He shouldn’t carry the label independent anymore. The revolution that Bernie got rolling will now die a quick death.”
Ventura’s disenchantment with his political options this year has led him to back his pal Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico who is running on the Libertarian ticket.
“Had I been the nomination of the Libertarians, they would have a better chance to win,” Ventura said. “In today’s day, you have to have a candidate with charisma: I have that.”
He said he hopes Johnson can make enough of an impact to win New Mexico and perhaps a few other states, leading to a tie between Clinton and Trump and an ultimate decision by Congress. At this stage, Ventura doesn’t have any plans to join Johnson on the campaign trail, however.
The man they called “The Body” said he is happy to observe the circus from his Minnesota home, safe from the fans he no longer permits to snap pictures of him and the threat of violence that accompanies renegade presidential candidates.
“How easy would it be? The Republicans don’t like him,” Ventura said of a possible assassination of the divisive real estate mogul. “If they get Trump to take their guy [as a running mate], then their guy is a heartbeat away, isn’t he?”