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Ventura Rips Major Parties
By Laura McCallum
August 3, 2000
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As Republicans wrap up their national convention in Philadelphia and Democrats prepare to hold theirs in another week, Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura ratcheted up his criticism of the two major parties. During a call-in show on Minnesota Public Radio, Ventura blasted Republicans for inviting a pro wrestler to address the convention, and attacked the corporate-sponsored festivities found at both events.
Gov. Ventura listens to a caller during his appearance on MPR's Midday on August 3. ( See larger image.)

Listento the entire broadcast of Midday.
(MPR Photo/Bob Collins)

GOVERNOR VENTURA DIDN'T LIKE being described as "goofy" by Minnesota Republican Party Chair Ron Eibensteiner on national television. He got back by botching Eibensteiner's name several times on MPR's Midday program. Ventura lashed out at Republicans for criticizing his guest referee stint at a pro-wrestling match last year, yet the party invited the WWF's "The Rock" to introduce House Speaker Dennis Hastert at the convention.

"Where's Ebeneezer (sic) and all these critical people, who were after me, left and right, writing editorials?" asked Ventura. "This is the ultimate hypocrisy that I've ever seen in my life. That now all of a sudden the Republican Party is endorsing the World Wrestling Federation."

Ventura also attacked both Republicans and Democrats for the "wining and dining" of delegates that takes place at the national conventions. Ventura says the big-money receptions and parties show how special interests are trying to buy political influence. He promised Minnesotans he would continue to refuse lobbyist and PAC contributions.

"You may not agree with me on everything I do, you may not even like me at times, but rest assured, there is nobody controlling me through PAC money, special interest money and money in my back pocket or in my party's back pocket, which is what you see with the Democrats and Republicans, and these conventions are the prime, pure example," Ventura said.

"There is nobody controlling me through PAC money, special interest money and money in my back pocket or in my party's back pocket, which is what you see with the Democrats and Republicans."

- Gov. Ventura
The governor says he will continue to push for a third-party movement, and says he won't endorse either a Republican or Democrat for president. That's contrary to a published report claiming Ventura was about to endorse Republican George W. Bush, and despite the fact that Democratic Vice President Al Gore recently traveled to Minnesota, presumably to curry favor with Ventura to appeal to independent voters.

Ventura admits it will be tough for a third-party candidate to win the White House, because none will probably reach the polling threshold to be included in national debates. The governor says he wouldn't have won two years ago if he hadn't been included in debates with his Republican and DFL opponents. One of those 1998 opponents, St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman, announced this week that he's forming a committee to raise money for a possible gubernatorial bid in 2002. Then House Majority Leader Tim Pawlenty said he'll begin informally exploring a 2002 gubernatorial campaign. Ventura says it's premature for Coleman and Pawlenty to consider running nearly two and a half years before the election.

"That's one of the distasteful things I find about this presidential election, is we've been in presidential politics now for the last year and a half. I'd like to see elections be mandated to where you can't start campaigning or doing anything until the year that the election is going to take place."

Ventura says he won't decide whether to run again until about six months before the 2002 election. He says he'll weigh whether he's accomplished everything he set out to do, and whether the job of governor is still satisfying. Ventura's second book is out next month, called Do I Stand Alone? Going to the Mat Against the Political Pawns and Media Jackals. He says although he takes on politicians and the press in his book, he also blames the public for the current state of politics. Ventura says as long as voters are apathetic, nothing will change.