With Stops In NY, DC And An Iowa Return, Hickenlooper Gauges His Presidential Chances

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Photo: US COnf of Mayors 2019 | John Hickenlooper Speech - Courtesy/Screencap
John Hickenlooper speaks to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019.

There is a math equation former-Gov. John Hickenlooper said he’s trying to solve. It’s a formula that includes a funny name, a somewhat muted national profile and a state that arguably offers the country a blueprint for bipartisan success.

Does that all add up to the Democratic nomination for President in 2020?

“If I'm going to take a big chunk of my life and run a national campaign, I want to feel I've got a good chance of winning,” Hickenlooper said. “And that is part of the calculus we're doing right now as well.”

After he wrapped up two terms as governor in January, Hickenlooper said he planned on taking some time off, perhaps even going on the honeymoon that has eluded him and his wife, Robin Pringle, when they got married three years ago.

Instead, Hickenlooper has picked up the pace, throwing himself headlong into what is looking more and more like an announcement that he’ll seek to become the Democratic standard bearer in the next race for the White House.

Throughout this week he’s met with network television executives in Washington, D.C. and New York. On Thursday, he gave a 10-minute talk at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in D.C. From there the former pub owner will return to Iowa, where he’ll spend part of the weekend touring a brewery, as well as being the guest of honor at a private party in Des Moines. There he’ll try to convince voters in the nominal first stop of the 2020 Election that he should be the guy to replace Donald Trump as president.

In his talk with the mayors, Hickenlooper cited Thomas Paine and the idea that the 2020 race “offers the opportunity for heroes to step up and for extraordinary actions and extraordinary deeds from sometimes ordinary people.”

Iowa has long held sway in Presidential elections because of its position on the calendar. Success in the state, more often than not, has been crucial for winning campaigns. There are almost 100 counties there, and political observers say the pathway to gaining a foothold is a painstaking one.

The retail politics involve visiting most, if not all of those counties, and sitting down in living rooms — like Hickenlooper is planning on doing this weekend — to convince the stereotypical “plain folk” that he’s an ordinary guy they can get behind, one who is capable of extraordinary actions.

“There is, I think, a new silent majority of people who want to get stuff done, but it’s not a typical pathway to win a national election,” he said. “There’s a core of people out there who are frustrated with politics as usual, and I think they perceive a lot of the senators who are running (Kamala Harris of California, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York are among those who have either announced or expressed strong interest on the Democratic side) as politics as usual.”

“I’m not sure, that if you look at all the candidates who are running,” Hickenlooper said, “I’m not sure any candidate has as many examples of bringing people together, resolving the conflicts and moving forward with compromise and collaboration.”

Read More: Can The Hickenlooper Way Survive In A Partisan Presidential Age?