The White House is not yet fretting over a potential 2020 challenge from Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, and a new PAC filed with the Federal Election Commission this week to convince the movie star and former WWE wrestler to run doesn't appear to have changed the administration's stance.
"I'll believe it when I see it," a White House official told BuzzFeed News in June, making it clear that they didn't see the topic as a serious one. The official declined to comment when asked on Wednesday to follow up now that a West Virginia man — with no connection to Johnson — has launched a PAC backing the Rock's potential candidacy.
The Fast & Furious star, who is a registered independent, has toyed with the idea of running for president for more than a year. In a popular Instagram post last summer, Johnson promoted a Washington Post story suggesting he could win the presidency. "I care DEEPLY about our county... and the idea of one day becoming President to create real positive impact and global change is very alluring," he said in the post.
Johnson opened up about the possibility more recently in a GQ cover story helpfully titled "Dwayne Johnson for President!"
If he were president, Johnson told GQ in May, "poise" and "leadership" would be important, as well as not shutting out people who disagree with him. And Johnson didn't look to body-slam Trump, only criticizing him in broad terms.
“I'd like to see a better leadership. I'd like to see a greater leadership," the 10-time former WWE champion said of Trump's presidency. "When there's a disagreement, and you have a large group of people that you're in a disagreement with—for example, the media—I feel like it informs me that I could be better. We all have issues, and we all gotta work our shit out. And I feel like one of the qualities of a great leader is not shutting people out...the responsibility as president—I [would] take responsibility for everyone."
The Moana star also joked about running in 2020 with Tom Hanks as his VP on the finale of the latest season of Saturday Night Live.
While 2020 maneuverings won't begin in earnest until after the 2018 midterm elections, Trump has stood out as a president looking early in his first term toward his reelection. Trump submitted an official statement of candidacy for reelection on the day he was inaugurated, and he looks toward the 2020 political landscape in private meetings with advisers and lawmakers.
Johnson's path to a presidential candidacy would potentially look similar to that of Trump, who rose to prominence as the star of The Apprentice and as a wealthy, outsider businessman. Johnson was the world's highest paid actor in 2016, making $64.5 million — more than double his 2015 take. And aside from support for veterans' causes, Johnson has no political platform to speak of, and has only addressed politics in broad terms.
If Johnson does run in 2020, he would face what is expected to be a crowded field, before even getting the chance to take down Trump and become the people's champion.
Adrian Carrasquillo is the White House correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Adrian Carrasquillo at email@example.com.
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