Jesse “The Body” Ventura announced yesterday that if Bernie Sanders fails to secure the Democratic nomination for president, he will mount a third-party campaign to run against Hillary Clinton and likely GOP nominee Donald 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?” Ventura said in an interview with The Daily Beast the day before Super Tuesday.
Ventura has had one of the most unusual professional and political careers in American history. A former Navy special operative, Ventura is a Vietnam War veteran, a former professional wrestler and commentator, and a Hollywood actor who appeared in blockbusters like Predator. In 1991 Jesse Ventura was elected Mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota and then Governor of Minnesota in 1998, becoming one of a very few third-party governors.
His campaign in 1998 defied conventional political wisdom and was similar, in some ways, to the campaigns of both Sanders and Trump. The three of them have some huge differences on the ideological spectrum, but like Ventura, Sanders and Trump speak about the corrupting influence that big-money interests have had in Washington.
“People give them no PAC money, no special interest money. To me, that’s the most important thing,” Ventura said in an interview with the Associated Press.
In a Q&A on the website for his conspiracy theory-focused TV and web series Off the Grid, Ventura also embraced some of the socialist aspects of Sanders’s ideology. In particular, Ventura supports expanding Social Security, which he called a great socialist policy.
“If everyone gets a boost from it, then we’re providing a better life for all American citizens. People shouldn’t be afraid of something if they label it ‘socialist.’ Socialism is a mere form of government where we all contribute for the common good. Capitalism is for your own personal good. A combination of both is what we need. You have to have a balance of socialism and capitalism.”
Ventura and Sanders had a meeting after a Sanders rally at the Minneapolis Convention Center on Monday. According to KSTP, Sanders turned down a formal offer of endorsement from the former governor. Ventura described the meeting as nice but added that he felt blown off. As a result of the meeting, Ventura decided not to officially endorse anyone.
Minnesota is one of Sanders’s best-looking states on a Super Tuesday filled with southern, pro-Clinton states. An endorsement by the state’s former governor could have been a boon to Sanders. But Jesse Ventura could also be a liability given his open embrace of controversial conspiracy theories – such as those surrounding 9/11 – and a highly publicized lawsuit, which Ventura won, against the estate of Chris Kyle for libelous accusations.
“See, I’m an independent and I despise the two parties,” Ventura told The Daily Beast. “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.”
The WWE comparison is apt. Ventura and Trump actually appeared alongside one another in 2004 at Wrestlemania XX, at which time Trump said he would support a Jesse Ventura presidential campaign “100 percent.”
[Photo by Jim Mone/AP]