The decision to run for president of the United States is one that does not come easy to any candidate, as proven by the long and drawn-out process most go through before committing to a campaign. Indeed, many candidates for 2016 have yet to confirm a decision to run. There’s been little doubt that Hillary Clinton would run, but she’s only just recently made a public decision.
What is it that so many potential contenders are doing to prepare — whether they’re decided, undecided, or decided but unannounced about their candidacy — for a political move of that magnitude? Every candidate has something a little different to do to prepare personally. For many, it’s a matter of talking things over and seeing how their personal lives would be affected, as well as if their family is prepared to weather that storm.
There are candidates who have already watched family members go through the criticism that comes with a presidential run, like Hillary and Jeb Bush, and know what to expect in terms of scrutiny. “You can’t be too upset about it,” said Bill Clinton to NPR, referring to attacks on his wife’s health and saying that negative commentary was “just the beginning,” and that “they’ll just get better and better.”
Others are less certain they want that sort of attention — Mitt Romney is a good example of that. When asked if he would run in 2016, according to NBC, wife Ann Romney said, “Not only Mitt and I are done, but the kids are done. Done. Done. Done.”
That’s not the only personal consideration that candidates make. For some, health and appearance also have a role in preparation. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie underwent weight-loss surgery in 2013 for personal and health reasons, rather than in relation to a presidential campaign or for political reasons.
That being said, health and appearance do matter when considering public office. “I got elected to office at my previous size. People say it’s about politics, which is wrong. It’s about living a healthier life, and being healthier and being able to stay around longer. Once you turn 50, you realize, you know, you’re not invincible,” said Christie, according to NJ.com.
Jeb Bush has been making an effort to lose weight to appeal to voters. “I am always hungry,” he said to The New York Times. And who wouldn’t be? The Paleo diet he’s on is short for Paleolithic, as in caveman. As in no carbs — no muffins, no pancakes, and no spaghetti.
On the financial end of things, many candidates are using this time of preparation to attract donors (something Scott Walker may have earned in spades given comments from the Koch brothers) and look for campaign funding. This means attending and hosting fundraisers, speaking before groups, and usually some sort of exploratory committee and a PAC.
Often, candidates begin their political efforts with early tours through Iowa and New Hampshire, both states where primaries take place, and where early successes can be important signs. So far, New Hampshire has had visits from most of the presidential potentials.
Joe Biden was in the state twice in September and Bush made multiple appearances in April, as have Christie and Clinton. Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, and Walker have also made their own visits. Iowa has seen a similarly crowded collection of visitors.
Another important part of preparing for a campaign is choosing the right staff, whether that means advisers or people to help build the funds to run a campaign. The team needed to run a successful campaign is enormous and requires talented and capable members.
Even before Clinton decided to run, she was looking at campaign headquarters in New York City, searching for employees to act as advisers. Many Republicans, like Rand Paul, are also looking to diversify their supporters by placing teams in unconventional areas, like Silicon Valley.