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"Hail to the Nerd?" Is Snyder mulling a 2016 presidential run?

The buzz has begun. Detroit is barely, officially, out of bankruptcy and suddenly the “Snyder for President” coverage begins.

 The national media is talking up the Nerd as a 2016 contender, “Rick Snyder, the Governor of Michigan, has not gotten the same attention as some of the other GOP governors who are looking at the White House,” New York Times political reporter Jonathan Martin told CNN this week. “He is someone who, at the very least, wants to be in the mix for 2016,” Martin explained.

Keep them guessing

Let’s be clear, this chatter didn’t just suddenly come out of the blue. There certainly seems to be some effort by Snyder’s people to get his name out there, to tell, as they like to say, “The Michigan Story,” talking up the Detroit recovery, balanced budgets and declining unemployment rates.

Politically speaking, it’s not a bad time to float his name. Snyder has just won reelection to a second term and names are being circulated for the top of the GOP ticket in 2016.

“My interest is in being a great governor of Michigan, and that’s what I’ve stayed focused on,” was the Governor’s response yesterday to questions about running. So, we tried again. “Well, again, this is, I’m not a career politician, and I’m proud to be governor of Michigan.”

Even if the governor is not interested in running, there is no reason for him to say ‘no’ right now.

As a politician, there is no downside to having your name on a list of possible contenders. It gains you stature and a certain gravitas among your fellow lawmakers and the political establishment.

National media takes notice

It makes plenty of sense that the national media has taken an interest in Snyder. On paper, he’s got a lot going for him. He’s a Midwestern governor from a reliably blue-state in presidential elections, who is fiscally conservative and socially (compared to some of his fellow Republicans) moderate.

He’s pro-Common Core, pro-Medicaid expansion and, as we’ve noted many times before, likes to call himself the most pro-immigration governor in the country.

He’s also avoided a lot of the red-meat issues that fire up the GOP base. Sure, he signed right-to-work but, he’s also done a lot to fire up the tempers of conservative Republicans and members of the Tea Party.

Time for a moderate

Snyder, whether he’s talking about himself or someone else, seems to believe there just might be a center-center-right coalition of voters that could be brought together behind a problem solver who’s not so incendiary. Not unlike, for example, former Republican Governor of Florida Jeb Bush, whose name is also pretty much on every 2016 list.

Really, Snyder?

There is the issue, however, of Snyder’s personality and charisma. Something pundits say the governor lacks. And, it’s not like the governor won last month by a landslide.

But, his name will remain on, at least, some lists and because of that, we’ll be keeping an eye on his travel schedule in the coming year. There are simply places you have to go early on (Iowa, for example) if you’re going to play in the presidential primaries and caucuses.

Never say never

We should also point out that an absolute ‘no’ to the question ‘are you running for President’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘absolutely not.’

Let’s travel back in time to 2006 when then-newly elected Senator Barack Obama appeared on the Sunday news show Meet the Press.

OBAMA: “I will serve out my full six-year term. You know, Tim, if you get asked enough sooner or later you get weary. And, uh, and, you start looking for new ways of saying things. But my thinking has not changed.” RUSSERT: “But, so, you will not run for President or Vice President in 2008.”OBAMA:” I will not.”

We seem to remember that not being the case.

Zoe Clark is Michigan Radio’s Political Director. In this role, Clark guides coverage of the state Capitol, elections, and policy debates.
Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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