5 Ways You’re A Candidate (Even When You Say You’re Not)

Written by Mike Persley, Intern on April 20, 2015


Thumbnail for the Money in Politics issue bucket

Some presidential hopefuls are trying to pull a fast one on us by claiming that they are “non-candidates,” and avoiding the strict fundraising limitations that federal law puts on prospects who are “testing the waters” and on declared candidates. But here’s five ways in which these “non-candidates” are sure behaving like they’re running for president. Urge the FEC to investigate these “non-candidates” and hold them accountable!

1. They’re Traveling to Key States

Virtually every “non-candidate” is spending time traveling through Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, the first three states in the presidential nomination process. Along with their own individual events last month, as many as nine possible candidates spent an afternoon courting voters at the Iowa Agriculture Summit, where they laid out their ideas on agricultural policy for Iowa farmers. Several also spoke over the weekend at the Republican Leadership Summit in New Hampshire.

2. They’re Placing Staff in Those States

Most of the “non-candidates” have already hired staff to work in these states, many who have experience working on presidential campaigns. In February, for instance, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker leased an office in Des Moines that had previously been used by Republican presidential candidates, and hired Danny O’Driscoll, who served as deputy state director in New Hampshire for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.

3. They're Courting Wealthy Donors

The race for fast cash began in January when former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush started his Right to Rise PAC and a separate Super PAC that can take money in unlimited sums, with the goal of raising a staggering $100 million in the year’s first fiscal quarter. According to Politico, Bush began reaching out to the same group of donors that helped fund Republican Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.

Since then other possible candidates such as Scott Walker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry have been scrapping for financial support in key states such as Florida, Texas and California.

4. They’re Creating Ads

In late February, Perry’s political action committee, RickPAC, released a short video showing Perry as he traveled through South Carolina, New Hampshire and Iowa. The ad shows Perry mingling with voters and offering his vision for America’s future.

“He looks presidential,” remarks one woman in the audience.

Jeb Bush released a similar video after his performance at the Iowa Agriculture Summit. The video shows Bush en route to the summit before finally taking stage.

“The first thing you do is, you change presidents,” he said. “We have to begin to rein in this top down driven regulatory system.”

5. They admit their candidacy

A few of the candidates have actually slipped up and openly admitted they’ll be a candidate for president. Both Scott Walker and Jeb Bush, speaking at last month’s Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference, effectively acknowledged they’re at least testing the waters. In his question and answer performance, Walker explained to the audience:

“Those are the sorts of things we’re going to talk about going forward should I choose to be     a candidate...And that’s what we’re going to do in any decision going forward, should we choose--my lawyers love it when I say as we’re exploring a campaign-should we choose to run for the highest office in the land.”

Bush admitted he’s avoiding language that would signal his intentions:

"If I go beyond the consideration of the possibility of running, which is the legal terminology that many of the people here coming to CPAC are probably using to not trigger a campaign. If I get beyond that and I run for president, I have to show what's in my heart. I have to show that I care about people, their future....

Urge the FEC to investigate these “non-candidates” and hold them accountable!

Office: Common Cause National

Issues: Money in Politics

Tags: Citizens United

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