For years, Donald Trump has flirted with running for president. Each election his possible run comes under speculation in a will-he-won't-he media circus. This year – while still a circus — is different. Unless you have actively been trying not to pay attention, you are well aware that Trump is running for president this year. He's hard to miss, hurling insults at Mitt Romney and rattling off racist comments about Mexican immigrants — all while sporting his trademark hairdo. Trump, however, is not the only celebrity that has displayed political ambitions. Everyone knows about actor-turned-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, but in the recent as well as the distant past, there are plenty of other celebrities who have run for office.
Although Trump is making quite the political splash, there are a surprisingly large number of celebrities that have run for office, most of whom thankfully avoided spewing racist insults like Trump. Some starred in films, others sang onstage. Why they traded the Hollywood limelight for the cutthroat world of politics is different for each of them. Unlike student council elections in high school, these elections weren't just popularity contests – not all the celebs came out victorious. Find out who ran and won, and what exactly they did in office. Here's six celebrities that have run for political office — or at least hinted at it.
Remember Clay Aiken? In 2003, the midst of American Idol's true glory days, Aiken was runner-up to Ruben Studdard on the singing show. Aiken, 35, ditched music and ran for North Carolina's second district congress as a Democrat in 2014. Perpetually a runner-up, he lost to Republican Renee Ellmers. E! reported the singer-turned-politician reflected on his experience:
I have never had a desire to be a Congressperson. I ran to use the platform and microphone I had to bring attention to certain issues and I learned so much in one year. I recognized that there are a lot of weaknesses in the political process and I realized that there are ways to effect change outside of the political process.
In a 2013 interview with Allure magazine, actress Jennifer Garner hinted at former husband Ben Affleck running for office. She said:
Right now [Ben] feels like he can do more good for people politically from outside the system. Would I be surprised if one day he did go into politics? No. But not now.
In December 2012, he didn't exactly deny or confirm anything in an interview with Face the Nation's Bob Schieffer. When asked if he would run for Massachusetts senator, he said he was too busy. Affleck continued:
Well, one never knows. I'm not one to get into conjecture. I do have a great fondness and admiration for the political process in this country ... but I'm not going to get into speculation about my political future.
Even if he never officially runs for office, Affleck is politically involved. According to The Huffington Post, the actor supported the CIA, declared his support for Obama, and has helped raise awareness about violence in the Eastern Congo through an organization he founded.
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson
In 2012 in an interview with The Huffington Post after Johnson played Barack Obama on SNL, he was asked what it would take to get him into the political sphere. Will the wrestler-turned-actor ever get into politics? Maybe, but doesn't look like it's anytime soon. Johnson responded seriously, saying:
Right now the best way that I can impact the world is through entertainment. One day, and that day will come, I can impact the world through politics.
Waka Flocka Flame
I think he'll need his hands for this. Waka Flocka Flame tweeted in 2012, "I'm dead ass running for president in 2016." According to Rolling Stone, Waka has big plans for his presidency. The magazine wrote in April:
As president, Waka would immediately legalize marijuana. (Happy 4/20!) He would also ban dogs in restaurants and impose harsh restrictions on the big-footed. He also discusses innovative new policy proposals on education, jobs, Congressional reform and more.
Whether he was serious or not, the 29-year-old would run into issues — you have to be 35 to run for president. Waka Flocka Flame for president 2024?
The 85-year-old Clint Eastwood rose to fame in the '60s in films like A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few More Dollars, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Playing macho heroic characters, his name became synonymous with Hollywood masculinity. In addition to his successful acting career (think seven films nominated for Oscars), he also dabbled in politics. According to his website, Eastwood experienced frustration with regulations — like tax code and zoning laws — in his town, Carmel, California, when trying to construct a building downtown. Inspired by this fight, he decided to run for mayor of Carmel in 1986 and won by a landslide, receiving 72.5 percent of the vote. He served just one two-year term, but among his most notable accomplishments, he worked to preserve land and open a children's library.
Maybe an obvious one, but Reagan proves celebrities can truly make it in politics. Before serving as the 40th president of the United States and the 33rd governor of California, Reagan was an actor. Most notably, he was in the drama Kings Row (1942) and the family comedy Bedtime for Bonzo (1951).
A surprising amount of celebrities have abandoned the screen or stage for an office, or at at least have aspired to. Who's next? No news yet, but I'm crossing my fingers for Beyoncé — I'm sure I'm not the only one.
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