For the past few months, Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg has spent a decent bit of time in early presidential primary states, fueling speculation about his future, and whether it could involve a high profile run for political office. Namely: will Zuckerberg run for president? Is that what's behind, for example, his recent Facebook post on the virtues of the pork tenderloin sandwiches you can get in the state of Iowa?
If you feel like this isn't the first time you've heard about Zuckerberg hanging around crucial presidential primary states, you're right. In 2017, he's already spent time in Ohio, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Iowa, amid a broader tour of the country. Zuckerberg announced his plan to speak to people in all 50 states in a Jan. 3 Facebook post, just a couple of weeks prior to the Trump inauguration.
It's entirely possible his travels across the country are unrelated to any particular political ambition, of course. He himself described it not in political terms, but as a "personal challenge to learn new things and grow outside of my work." But when you start praising the deep-fried local fare in the Hawkeye State, people inevitably start to wonder. Basically, there's a well-established playbook for how presidential campaigns start, and it often looks like this.
In another Facebook post mere days before the inauguration, Zuckerberg detailed some time he spent in Texas, and as The Atlantic's Adrienne LaFrance noted, it reads a whole lot like the kind of soft-focus Americana you'd typically hear from a fledgling politician gearing up for a run.
I had lunch with community leaders in Waxahachie who shared their pride in their home and their feelings on a divided country. I met young moms in West who moved back to their town because they want their kids to be raised with the same values they grew up with. And I met with ministers in Waco who are helping their congregations find deeper meaning in a changing world.
"We may come from different backgrounds, but we all want to find purpose and authenticity in something bigger than ourselves," Zuckerberg wrote. "Thanks to everyone who has shared their stories with me over the last few days. I'll remember this experience for a very long time."
Whether Zuckerberg actually jumps into the political arena remains to be seen, and he hasn't given any public indications just yet that running for elected office is in his plans.
But if he wanted to, the millennial tech billionaire could mount a presidential run as early as 2020 ― he's currently 32 years old, which means he'd just barely clear the 35-year-old minimum age requirement by the time of the 2020 presidential inauguration. Of course, whether things would even get that far would depend on whether the public warmed to the idea of the head of Facebook becoming commander-in-chief, which is another question altogether.