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Minnesota's Jesse Ventura punches out a new book

ST. PAUL, Minn. (Reuters) - In a new book, Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura reiterated that he has no interest in running for president -- though the former Navy SEAL said he has been told he might have the support of a large chunk of the U.S. military if he did.

The maverick politician also lectured U.S. voters for wallowing in an apathy which he says has perpetuated the two-party system, and predicted that the divided Reform Party, to which he once belonged, will have little impact on this year's presidential election.

The book "Do I Stand Alone? -- Going to the Mat Against Political Pawns and Media Jackals" (Pocket Books) was circulated to news organizations Monday in advance of its September publication date.

The one-time professional wrestler, whose 1998 election on the Reform Party ballot shocked the political establishment, said in the book, "I've had people come up to me on the streets and literally beg me to run (for President). I'm honored as hell that they would want me to be their president. But I still don't want the job."

"I'm absolutely certain that there are plenty of bright, talented people who would make outstanding leaders, at all levels ... if they would simply step forward and offer themselves for the job," he added.

Ventura recounted a recent visit to San Diego during which he, his wife and former Navy friends boarded a Harbor Patrol boat, saw the USS Pearl Harbor, a troop carrier, asked to come aboard and climbed on the ship via a Jacob's ladder.

"Before we left the captain came up to me with a message from his crew: If I decided to run to run for president, I'd have their votes. All the branches of the service have told me, 'We want you to be the president. We can guarantee you 800,000 military votes'," he said.

"In many ways the public is to blame for the political situation we're in, because of their apathy. They reelect incumbents over and over again because its easier to stick with a known quantity, and because they don't want to give up the power that entrenched politicians have amassed," he said. "The heart of American politics remains in that silent majority."

Ventura called the Reform Party -- the group founded by Ross Perot but split between backers of former Republican Pat Buchanan and Transcendental Meditation advocate John Haglin -- "dysfunctional."

"Neither the Reform Party nor any other third party will be a major concern in this election," he said, because of internal disorganization and a restriction that limits participants in presidential debates to parties that have 15 percent of the vote.

"The standard had always been 5 percent," he said. "I entered the (Minnesota) race with 10 percent, and won the election with 37. If that law had been in effect during the 1998 election, I wouldn't have won, because I would never have been heard," he said.

But he said he "thoroughly expects to see another national-level centrist reform party in the future, after the Perot party has played itself out."

Ventura devoted a lengthy section of the book to the news media, saying they are "accountable to no one. And they know it. But it seems that the more arrogant they get, the higher their ratings go and the more papers they sell. They've got no incentive to report only reliable, unbiased news."

The books is Ventura's second. Shortly after his election he published "I Ain't Got Time to Bleed."

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Monday, August 28, 2000


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