NBC News: Everybody Knows These Democrats Will Probably Run for President — So Why Won’t They Just Say It?
NBC News: Everybody Knows These Democrats Will Probably Run for President — So Why Won't They Just Say It?
WASHINGTON — They’re traveling to New Hampshire, interviewing campaign teams, and honing their stump speeches. They’re angling to take on a president who made his own 2020 intentions official nearly two years ago.
So why won’t the two dozen or so Democrats we all know are likely to run for president just come out and admit it? …
“It’s a charade played by candidates,” said campaign finance expert Paul S. Ryan of the good government group Common Cause. “Their lawyers have told them, ‘Keep your mouth shut, because if you don’t, there are legal ramifications. But the FEC will let us get away with it if you just stay quiet.’”
Of course, nearly every potential 2020 presidential candidate would say they haven’t made a final decision yet, with many sure to add that they’re planning to discuss it with their families over the holidays.
But technically, according to Ryan, most of the likely 2020 field should at least tell the FEC they’re “testing the waters” for a presidential bid, since they’ve likely met the two requirements: Raising at least $5,000 and taking exploratory steps, such as traveling to early presidential primary states and even calling around to activists there. …
Ryan and other campaign finance watchdogs filed a string of formal complaints against candidates in both parties in 2016 for failing to declare themselves candidates early enough, but the FEC never acted.
In the most egregious case, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush spent the runup to his presidential campaign wooing donors to cut giant checks to a super PAC that went on to do nothing but support his campaign.