HOOKSETT, N.H. (CBS4) – Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has been known to have a slip-of-the tongue on occasion, but on Wednesday, he announced he’s running for president in a diner in Hooksett, New Hampshire. It’s a move unusual even for him.
“I’m Governor of Colorado, and I’m running for President,” Hickenlooper told a server at the diner as people nearby congratulated him.
New Hampshire is one of several key states the governor has visited since announcing his leadership PAC last month. The executive director of the PAC, Brad Komar, said Hickenlooper was joking.
“He has not made a decision yet. If he had, his wife would have been the first to know.”
Robin Hickenlooper says she may be more excited about a run than he is, but he’s clearly testing the waters.
“Certainly I think John can get into situations where he feels like, ‘Let me see how this works out.’ I think he got the attention he was hoping he’d get on his,” said CBS4 Democratic Analyst Mike Dino. “He can kind of throw up his finger and see which way the wind is going to blow for him.”
All indications are the wind is at his back. Dino and CBS4 Republican Analyst Dick Wadhams say Hickenlooper’s unscripted, unconventional style may work for him, once people warm up to it.
“When I was CEO of the Democratic Convention Committee, the national people had a hard time with John,” said Dino. “They couldn’t relate to him like we could. Once they got to know him, they liked him.”
Wadhams says in a post-Trump era, it may be easier for candidates like Hickenlooper who occasionally put their foot in their mouth.
“Ironically, President Trump might have set the stage for somebody like Hickenlooper because think of all the faux pas he’s made and yet he’s president.”
Hickenlooper is also atypical in that he’s not old guard or far left. Dino says that may benefit him.
“Maybe he’ll get people from both ends of the spectrum to say he feels like the right cup of porridge.”
Wadhams agrees Hickenlooper may fill a void in the current line-up of possible candidates.
“I think there will be a reservoir of left-of-center Democrats, moderate Democrats, who will be looking for someone other than Bernie Sanders, other than Elizabeth Warren, other than Joe Biden. That may be the nitch that Hickenlooper can fill.”
But Hickenlooper’s not ready to commit just yet, jumping out of the race as abruptly as he jumped in.
“To be honest, I haven’t made the final decision,” he told the waitress in New Hampshire, but admitted he’s leaning strongly toward a run.
Colorado hasn’t had a presidential contender since Gary Hart in 1988. Hickenlooper says he’ll announce a decision in February or March.