POLITICS
02/10/2011 07:18 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Your Long-Shot Presidential Campaign: What's In It For You?

Ever wonder why so many people with no real hope of winning the Presidential nomination go to all the trouble and kerfuffle to mount a presidential campaign anyway? Cash and status, baby.

Alexander Burns' piece in Politico today has the key takeaway:

"Everybody who runs for president knows they probably have long odds," said David Yepsen, a former longtime Des Moines Register reporter who now directs the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University.

But running for president has rewards for even the most extreme underdog, Yepsen said.

"They're asked to comment on things. Yes, they command lecture fees and can sell books and can wind up on a TV program," he continued. "You generally wind up with an enhanced status of some kind. It's not true for everybody, but it's true for most of them."

If you're wondering what's going through the mind of George Pataki after Ben Smith greets the prospect of your presidential campaign with, "A bit hard to see how this works," this is it. Pataki's speaker fee goes up, he gets on a few more pundit panels, maybe gets a prime-time turn at the Republican National Convention. Similarly, while people debate whether or not Sarah Palin wants to run for President, I usually offer: "Maybe she wants to do both, sort of? Run for president, in a campaign specifically built to ensure she won't win the nomination." Palin will answer that question once she sees the cost/benefit analysis.

I'm pretty sure despite the fact that she pulled out three days before the 2004 Iowa caucuses, Carol Mosely Braun's speaking fee had a nice bump simply because she of her candidacy. The returns must not have lasted very long, though; she's currently in the Chicago Mayoral race and things are not going well.

(David Yepsen was an appropriate person to ask about this, by the way, as his importance as a political commentator is entirely derived from the fact that so many hopeless candidates turn the Iowa caucuses into a crazy circus and that he is the former chief political correspondent for the Des Moines Register. As soon as the show leaves the Hawkeye State, Yepsen disappears for another three-and-a-half years.)

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