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Ventura Says He Could Run for President, But Won't
By Jon Gordon
June 13, 2000
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Governor Jesse Ventura said in California that he will not be a candidate for president, even though he could get on the ballot in all 50 states and win, even if he waited until the last minute to enter the race.

Leon Panetta and Jesse Ventura
Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura talks to CSU-Monterey Bay students.

Listen to the entire Panetta forum with Governor Ventura.

Photo courtesy: Santa Cruz Sentinel
AT CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY Monterey Bay, Ventura reiterated he's not interested in taking on Al Gore and George W. Bush in November, but could make a legitimate run if he wanted to, even if he's a little fuzzy on the details.

"What's the one party? They have access in all states and they've told me if I want to they'll give me their access in all; I forget their name, they're a small, I mean they're a smaller, kind of an off-the-wall, but they have access in all 50 states. And they've, in fact they told Dean Barkley if I decide to run that they can have me on the ballot in all 50 states if I want to be on it," Ventura said.

The governor's press secretary said later that a man who is associated with the Libertarian and Natural Law Parties offered Ventura a spot on the ballot. As a member of the Independence Party, Ventura could only get on the presidential ballot in his home state.

Ventura is in California all week on a trip he describes as part business, part pleasure. It's capturing lots of local media attention so far. The Monterey County Herald featured a front-page photograph of Ventura and Clint Eastwood playing a round of golf Sunday at Pebble Beach, under the headline "Star Time on the Green."

Leon Panetta, a former top aide to President Clinton and a Monterey native, hosted the governor for a press conference and question-and-answer session with college students. Panetta heads up a public policy institute at the university, and says he invited Ventura to take part in his lecture series because of the governor's prominent role in national third-party politics.

"There are more independents that are registering these days," Panetta said. "That's true in California and it's true elsewhere. There's a lot more anger with regards to both parties, as to whether or not they're just into raising money. There seems to be a greater desire among the American public for straight talk or honesty and the real question is how does all of this impact on our political process and where are we historically, are we at the point where a third-party candidate can truly run for the presidency and win?"

The governor had plenty to say about third-party politics. Two parties aren't enough to encompass American diversity; Senator John McCain could have won the presidency if he would have bailed out on the Republicans; that someday a third party could capture the White House.

"There are more independents that are registering these days. That's true in California and it's true elsewhere. There's a lot more anger with regards to both parties, as to whether or not they're just into raising money."

- Leon Panetta
Local college students asked Ventura about gun control, the death penalty, Internet taxation and a national missile-defense system. The governor explained why he wants a unicameral legislature, and thinks it's time to consider decriminalizing drugs and prostitution.

Monterey Peninsula College student Roger Thompson liked just about everything he heard. "I was really impressed with his candid, open, honest remarks," he said. "I think we need more of that in politics. I think far too often we have politicians who spin things and say what we want to hear, rather than what they really feel."

Monday evening Ventura entertained a sell-out crowd of about 400 in downtown Monterey for the Panetta Institute's ongoing lecture series on various aspects of the presidency. The governor's Los Angeles agenda includes a Minnesota tourism reception. He'll be at a taping for the soap opera The Young and the Restless and he will on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. But the highlight of his trip may have already passed: a round of golf with Eastwood, Panetta and an area businessman at beautiful Pebble Beach, home to the U.S. Open later this week.

"First thing, it is so beautiful that you are kind of overtaken by that and the golf in some ways becomes secondary," Ventura said. "Second of all, you're also playing under conditions of the U.S. Open, so if you miss the fairway you have to have a caddy just to find your golf ball."

Ventura didn't reveal his score.