Former radio host and failed California gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder is running for president because, apparently, some people thought the “kids’ table” debates in 2016 were a good thing.
I will not lie to you and say he has a path to victory. I cannot even pretend to you that there is even a path to double digits in the polls. He could surprise us and get to five percent, but that would require just somehow staying financially afloat while all the other candidates drop out. I don’t see it happening.
But Elder really thinks he has a shot, and he’s proving that he’s all-in on Larry Elder (because someone has to be) with recent media hits. Recently, he did a lengthy interview with Elex Michaelson of Fox 11 in Los Angeles (the full video of the interview can be found at the end of this op-ed). During that interview, he essentially argued that he could be Trump without being Trump, and he seems to think he’s got a great path to suburban women.
.@larryelder on his lane to beat Donald Trump in the Republican primary:
“If you like the America First agenda and I do…virtually everything he did I agree with…but you want a vehicle who has not turned off suburban women…I’m your man.”@TheIssueIsShow interview:… pic.twitter.com/X4JSm9lWz3
— Elex Michaelson (@Elex_Michaelson) May 27, 2023
For years, people asked Rush Limbaugh to run for office. Dan Bongino, one of the 1142 hosts trying to occupy the old Limbaugh spot on the radio, ran for office before getting his radio gig. Both men would tell you the same thing if you asked them both right now: Under no circumstances would they run.
The thing about talk radio is that you can have great ratings and be really popular among your audience. But the moment you become a partisan political candidate, the very nature of your talk radio program means roughly half of the electorate is not going to vote for you ever. You may get lucky and get some independents, but the fact remains that you are a talk show host and that’s it. There’s nothing else that makes you appealing as a political candidate.
Elder began his professional life as a lawyer before becoming a political commentator. Unlike Trump, he’s never run a business, and he doesn’t have the same level of charisma Trump has. He can say he’s all “America First” and what have you, but part of what made Trump so successful at it is how he inspired (and still inspires) people to die on various hills defending him. Elder doesn’t inspire that. Not even close.
When it comes to some of the other non-Trump and non-DeSantis candidates in the race, you can at least see a path to victory, even if it’s a longshot candidacy that will probably not succeed. Tim Scott is making a play for evangelicals and trying to win back Republicans who care less about the fighting and more about working toward solutions and common ground. Nikki Haley is hoping to bring in the war hawk wing of the party, as well as women. Mike Pence is likewise popular among evangelicals and hopes to use his faith to gain traction.
Elder doesn’t have any of that to run on, and as you watch the interview, you realize he doesn’t even seem all that serious about trying to find a path. He’s running, but that’s about all you get out of the interview. It sort of seems like a waste of time.