Republicans meet June 8 to 11 in Greensboro. Delegates need to know that I am not running for President in 2024. Why?
I am 72 years old. Before my second term expires I will be 82. I am too old.
There are reasons that someone as experienced (old) as I might not be electable. In 2003 my daughter was my legislative assistant. She was a libertarian. I was considering a bill about safety restrictions on young ATV drivers. She told me she might run against me in the next primary – she had just as much name recognition (then Stam) as I did, but without all my baggage. Twenty years later I have even more baggage (a voting record).
I graduated from high school when I was 17, telling classmates that I planned to be President in 1992. To round out my resume I volunteered for military service (USMC 1968- 1970). Previous presidents had served: Eisenhower (5 Star General), Kennedy (naval officer), Johnson (Navy), Nixon (Naval Reserve), Ford (Naval Reserve), Carter (naval officer – nuclear sub), Reagan (Army).
I have noticed recently that prior military service has become a negative, politically. Who would have thought that the youngest Navy pilot of WWII, a hero, George H.W. Bush, would lose to draft dodger, Bill Clinton. Clinton won a plurality of the votes of veterans!! Who would have thought that President Obama would defeat John McCain, a real hero of the Vietnam War. As the son of an Admiral, he could have been released years earlier from the tortures of a prisoner of war camp. He chose to stay with his men. I realize now that my military service in 1968-70, as insignificant as it was, could be a negative for my ambitions.
In 1970-75 I attended four different schools on the GI bill. I had always been a bookworm and have maintained that practice for the last 65 years, reading and writing extensively. When I write, (www.paulstam.info) I strive for factual accuracy. One article required 27 revisions before my assistant would let it be published. For high federal office factual accuracy has now become an anachronism. But there is more.
Joe Biden won election as Vice President, and again as President, despite a credible accusation of the rape of Tara Reade. He also had a record of other unwanted actions toward women. Who can forget Bill Clinton’s tomcat behavior, even in the Oval Office? Fidelity now means nothing to voters, except that a candidate is boring.
I have prepared thousands of wills and powers of attorney for clients older than I – even nonagenarians. Competency to execute a will does not require the judgment, energy or competence required for the presidency. But a president needs more than passing a quiz, “What month is it?” “Who is president today?” “Draw a clock at 2:30”.
We elders are aware of the slow, cognitive decline that makes us so adorable. My favorite president was Ronald Reagan. His eighth year was not his best. Not too long after his retirement he had early onset Alzheimer’s. Who can predict when that might start for you or for me?
For all these reasons I decline to run for president in 2024. Republicans have many fine candidates from whom to choose.
These words from King Solomon speak to political ambition: “When you sit down to dine with a ruler, consider carefully what is before you. Put a knife to your throat if you are a person of great appetite.” Proverbs 23:1-2
The author served 16 years in the General Assembly, the last ten (2007-2016) as House Republican Leader and Speaker Pro Tem.