You're gonna need a lot of money, you're not gonna get much sleep, you're gonna see WAY more of Iowa than you ever cared to see (nice people, though), and you're gonna have people calling you a:
no-good, low-down, gun-totin' bible-thumpin' sonofagun if you're a Republican.
And if you're a Dem, they'll say you're a latte-sippin', sushi-eatin', NYTimes-readin', Volvo-drivin' atheist.
If it's not true, they'll still say it. And if it is true, you'll need to hire a good spin-doctor.
The point is, get ready. It's gonna be a long ride.
1. Ask Yourself the Question: "Would I make a good American President?"
Then ask your friends. Listen to what they say.
If you get a good response from you friends, then you may want to start testing the waters. If you've never held elected office, don't panic! Five U.S. Presidents had never been elected to anything before showing up at the White House. They are:
1. Zach Taylor, 2. Ulysses S. Grant, 3. Herby Hoover, 4. Ike Eisenhower, 5. Billy H. Taft
If you feel like you're ready to run, then maybe you should form a Presidential Exploratory Committee.
2. The Enigmatic Presidential Exploratory Committee
Okay, so federal election law doesn't exactly require you to do this, but it's a good idea, unless you want to be a mysterious dark-horse candidate.
Most people think of this stage as "testing the waters". If everyone you ask for money tells you to go to hell, or laughs in your face, then you probably won't win. Don't get discouraged, though; you can always be in Congress.
3. Hire a staff, so you can say "I'll have my people call your people.”
You'll need to hire the following:
1. Campaign Manager - This person is in charge of everyday operations so you can concentrate on projecting the image that you could run these United States.
2. Finance Team - Money, money, money. It's more expensive than ever to run for president. All those TV commercials, all the takes where you have to say, "I'm [your name here], and I approve this message". It's expensive. After you win the nomination, you'll also need a fancy-shmancy jumbo jet with your name painted on the fuselage. Because, you know, Air Force One is a SERIOUS advantage of incumbency. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
3. Hair/Makeup - Ever since the first televised debates in 1960, Americans vote based on who has better hair. Let's be honest: you have to look good on TV. Americans don't want a homely president. Now you don't necessarily have to "fake bake" or get all Botoxy, but you do need to address those crow's feet, because let's face it, HDTV isn't hiding those bags under your eyes. Oh! And make sure you don't let some sneaky news crew film you combing your combover or plucking your brows. Americans want you to LOOK good, but don't want to see your toilette routine.
4. Communications Team - You'll need someone to plan your media strategy, and to clean up the mess when you say something stupid. This person should not be your spouse, even if s/he is used to telling people what you meant to say.
5. Political Team - The strategy people. You need a mantra, preferably that fits the following formula: "It's [blank], stupid." Acceptable blankfillers include "the economy", "security", etc. Pick the biggest thing that the current president is screwing up on, or that your opponent would suck at, and harp on it.
6. Advance Team - Before you're actually super-famous/assassination target, you want people to THINK you're a big deal. These people go to where you're going, only a day or two before to boss people around in the hotel you're staying in, the restaurants you'll be eating in, and just generally make life easier for you, and much harder for everyone else.
7. Foreign Policy Advisers - When you're POTUS, you'll actually need to know which Korea has nucs, where Burundi is on the map, and why Pakistan and India are so pissed at each other. And no, they're not fighting over an expensive fabric. If you're a democrat your foreign policy team should consist of university professors whose sole mode of transportation is bicycle. If you're a republican your advisers should smoke cigars and drink scotch. Oh, and they shouldn't be from CA or NY.
8. Field Team - These are the annoying people who call your home or show up at your front door, and say "If the election were held today...". If you live in a swing state, they're even more annoying, and if you live in Iowa, you may have killed one of them in a previous election year.
It's not that there's really anything special about Iowa politics. The Iowa caucus , though, is the first time in the election season that voters leave their homes to vote for a candidate. You need to show up in Iowa, with staff, welllllllll in advance of the caucuses, which are held in January of the election year. You've got to convince these disproportionately powerful Iowans that you're the right person for the job. They then show up to a caucus to support you. The process used by Democrats is quite different from (and more complicated than) the process the GOP uses.
After you win the Iowa caucuses, you'll red-eye straight to New Hampshire. Try not to scream like a psycho if you win or lose in Iowa. After you win the NH primary, you'll want to head straight down to South Carolina (or Nevada I guess, but South Carolina is more important).
If you didn't do well in Iowa, and you're not exactly popular right now in New Hampshire, maybe head straight to South Carolina. So unless you're completely studly and you've wrapped up the nomination early on, you'll probably have to wait for "Super Tuesday" to call yourself the nominee. That's the day that 22 (or so) states have their primaries.
Typically, after this, it's a done deal, and you can worry about your opponent from the other party.
So you're gonna need a Vice-President. I know, I know, you'll do a FANTASTIC job as POTUS, but since you're kind of a target (gulp), or you could, like die, or get impeached, or resign, or get shot in the face on a hunting trip (oh wait), you'll need a wing-man (or woman, although that didn't work out so well the first time).
You're gonna want to pick someone to balance the ticket . You want to attract voters with your VP that you couldn't get otherwise. Here are some things to consider:
1. Geography. If you're from the West, or the Northeast, try getting someone from the South. Voters just LOVE Southern accents.
2. Experience. Are you a tad wet-behind-the-ears when it comes to foreign policy? Seem like a lightweight on defense? Maybe ask someone with some experience with these things to help out.
3. Skillz - Straight up. Your VP is expected to back you up 100%, and be your attack dog. So while the other side is doing their mud-slinging you can go around looking all presidential, not stooping to their level.
4. Smarts - Make sure this person is not an idiot, because it makes you look dumb.
7. Start writing your speech, and blowing up balloons. It's Convention Time.
Your party's national convention will be a lot of fun. Everyone there will just LOVE you, and think that you're going to be the next president, even if you don't have a prayer.
Make sure that when you accept your party's nomination for president, you have a good speech. Oh, and if you have kids, make sure they're not drunks or giggling idiots if they're going to give a speech before you. Humanizing you = good. Making you look like an inept parent who raised spoiled children = bad.
Just so you know, the whole reason for having primaries is so voters can elect delegates to go to your party's national convention to vote for you. So make sure to ask your campaign manager if you have enough delegate votes to win the nomination.
Congratulations! Now get ready to debate your opponent!
Hire a good debate prep team. You'll need someone to pretend to be your opponent, so that they can say all the annoying stuff that you'll have to rail against. Make sure you have clear, articulate messages that average voters can understand and identify with.
You'll likely have three debates, and your runningmate will have one. One debate will focus on foreign policy, one will focus on domestic policy, and one will be a town-hall meeting where voters can ask questions.
You should try to be pretty folksy, smart but down home. Oh, and I hear it's important now for you to be the candidate that voters would rather invite to their BBQ.
Another thing to keep in mind for the debates: expectations. Always try to keep them low. This is easier if you're not very smart.
Election Day. Hopefully by about midnight Eastern time, you'll hear the good news: you're the new President-elect of the United States. CONGRATULATIONS!!!
By now your opponent will have called to concede, your exhausted staff will be almost drunk, and you'll need to get on TV, thank the American voters for putting their trust in you, and say something nice about that loser you were running against. "Now is the time for our nation to come together, Democrat or Republican, blah blah."
Party all night, because now you have to form a transition team. You need to appoint a cabinet, senior staff, and work with the lame duck president (fun to say) to make sure you're up to speed on all the problems his administration never fixed.
Don't forget to show up to the Capitol a few minutes before noon today. Everyone who's anyone will be there to hear what you've got in store for the next four years.
Your inauguration speech is super important. Hire a few people to write it, fill it with platitudes and sweeping metaphors, and make grandiose pledges. Don't forget that, as of now, you are running for re-election. Don't screw up! Or if you do, get all the bad ones out of the way in the first two years. Voters are pretty forgiving.
Make sure to go to the Inaugural balls that night, and then get some sleep. You've got a country to run.
Now first things first. These folks are important during your campaign. You have to file with them to say you're running, and tell them how much money you've raised and from whom it came. Oh, they also organize the presidential debates. DO NOT make them mad (look what happened to Al Gore). OH! And they also are in charge of assembling the electoral college, a real crazy time. We'll discuss later.
Commission on Presidential Debates
Be nice to these people, too. They pick the debate moderators. So you can get a few softballs, or you can get questions about your personal life and nuclear proliferation. You choose.
The U.S. House of Representatives
Unfortunately, once you're elected, you have to work with these folks to get anything done. If you mess up too badly, they just might impeach you, which SUCKS! Once they "write you up", they turn things over to their colleagues, the most exclusive club in the world, the U.S. Senate.
You'll need to work with the Senate, too. IF you get impeached, the Senate tries you, which sucks even more, because more people watch this than watched the O.J. trial. They air all the proverbial dirty laundry.
The Supreme Court
Now if you REALLY mess up, these 9 jolly old robes might just say you're out of line; and since they wear robes, they have the final say. (Note: The Chief Justice swears you in when you're inaugurated. Bring a coat. It's COLD in D.C. in January.)
Read PG 493 from your textbook. Answer the following questions: 1) What was the initial incident that caused the Watergate Scandal? 2) How did it erupt into a scandal for President Nixon? 3) Define Executive Privilege. 4) What checks and balances are at work with this scenario?