'Blue Collar' comedian Ron White announces he's running for president
The 2016 presidential race has already seen the rise of a number of "outsider" candidates with no political experience, but the biggest outsider of them all may have just joined Wednesday as Grammy-nominated stand-up comedian Ron White took to the AOL BUILD stage to announce that he is running for president of the United States as an independent.
The 58-year-old Scotch-drinking, cigar-smoking comic is best known for his "Blue Collar Comedy Tour" -- but he's looking to change that with a brisk move into politics.
Many people have asked White if his plan to run is another one of his jokes, but the comedian filed paperwork to run, which he provided to AOL, and insists he is entirely serious about his intentions.
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He told AOL.com that he was inspired to run watching the latest Republican debate.
"I was just sitting at home, watching [the debate] ... asking myself, 'Is this it?'" White said. "'Are the best and the brightest running for president? I have to choose from these people?'"
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Drawing from his extensive experience on the road, White said he is certain that he can do better compared to some of the other candidates, who may be out of touch with American voters.
"For the last 30 years of my life, I've done nothing but non-stop touring across this country, back and forth, making these people laugh, eating with these people, drinking with these people," White told AOL. "I know what they need, I know what they smoke, I know what they say, I know what hurts them, I know what they're worried about."
White doesn't pretend to be the perfect candidate. His slogan? "Vote Smart. Because You Can't Fix Stupid."
"My hope is something better comes along. But if it doesn't, and the American people decide they want me to [be president], I will. I will surround myself with the smartest people in the world, and I'll go to Washington."
Though White told AOL.com he's "not tied to a doctrine," he does take a clear stance on two issues that are important to him: Fighting the methamphetamine crisis in America and taking better care of U.S. soldiers.
To address the meth problem, White said he would start his own "war" on drugs.
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"You think, 'that's been done, right?' No, it hasn't," he said" "It absolutely has not been done. What I'm talking about is the complete legalization of marijuana nationwide. We take that money that we make from the taxation of that, and we build a big gun and we point it straight at meth.
"Meth is the thing that's destroying this country. Meth is a bigger threat to this country than ISIS will ever be ... I want to offer $20,000 bounty on meth labs. If you show me where a meth lab is, I'll give you $20,000," White said.
In addition to offering a bounty, White said he would employ Navy SEALs to track down and kill those involved in the operations of meth labs.
White also takes the care of veteran soldiers very seriously.
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"I think we take s*** care of our wounded soldiers," he said. "They are coming back with PTSD so bad they [have] an overwhelming desire to blow their f***ing brains out. ...We know for a fact that PTSD can be treated, but it has to be treated."
Compared to the other presidential candidates, White is confident that he'd make a better president than Donald Trump.
"Trump tops himself almost every week," White said. "You can't be the president and say the stupidest things said that week, every week ... It would be a complete and total embarrassment."
"Donald Trump wants to build a wall between here and Mexico. [That] makes about as much sense as building a net between here and Canada to keep the geese out."
Historically, few entertainers have made it to the White House, but White doesn't see his comedy background as a drawback.
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"I know for a fact that I can sit down and clearly look at a complex issue to make a decision," he told AOL.com. "The first 29 years of my life were a little rowdy, and I still drink too much and smoke too much -- and other presidents have too -- and I'm not even saying I'm the best choice. I'm just saying if you want me to [run] I'll do it."
What may set White even further apart from other presidential hopefuls is that he is honest about what he does and doesn't know.
"I just decided that I was going to run for president the other day. I don't have a tax plan, I don't have a position on the Middle East. ...How would I know? How would anybody know? ...Nobody has a tax plan. ...I'm not going to make up that stuff.
"One thing you need to have is a passion for this country and a love of the American people, and I have those things," he said. "For that reason, I would make a decent choice for president."
White named fellow comedian Josh Blue as his preferred running mate, describing Blue, a fellow comedian who is known for self-deprecating humor about his cerebral palsy, as the smartest man he knows.
While he has better name recognition than many Americans, White will still face certain considerable challenges in mounting a run given his non-political credentials and lack of party backing. In the 2012 election the Democratic and Republican party nominees collectively spent nearly $900 million on their campaigns.