What started out as a joke might turn into an actual presidential campaign.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has played around with the idea of running for president in the next election. He’s floated the idea, but not with much seriousness.
But he recently went one step further in legitimizing his presidential prospects.
The Rock finally “announced” his bid for president in 2020.
From the Washington Post:
Actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who was hosting the show for a fifth time, made a dramatic announcement in his opening monologue: He was putting the persistent rumors — some fueled by his own statements — to rest “once and for all.”
“Starting tonight, I am running for the president of the United States!” Johnson thundered, to applause.
He had even chosen a running mate, he joked.
Tom Hanks stepped onto the stage and feigned embarrassment as the audience cheered his surprise appearance.
“Dwayne, Dwayne, Dwayne, I could not possibly … turn this down!” Hanks said. “I’ll do it!”
“The truth is, America needs us,” Hanks said. “No one can seem to agree on anything anymore, except for two things.”
“Pizza,” Johnson said, “and us!”
The pair also pondered their universal likability: Hanks noted that he had been in two movies in which the plane crashes — “and people are still excited to see me on their flight.” Meanwhile, Johnson said he once ran a red light; the traffic camera footage alone made a billion dollars, he joked.
They talked demographics.
“I would get the senior vote,” Hanks reasoned. “Because I’ve fought in World War II in, like, 10 different movies.”
“And I, of course, would get the minority vote,” Johnson said. “Because everyone just assumes that I’m, well, whatever they are.”
Though the two were joking, that didn’t stop people from jumping onto the “Johnson/Hanks 2020″ bandwagon. Many acknowledged it was a joke but couldn’t contain their enthusiasm about the hypothetical ticket.
Johnson finally acknowledged that they were just kidding. Or were they?
Rumors that Johnson might launch a presidential bid have floated in the ether for some time. Though it was once an outright joke, it now occupies a space that is not quite real and yet not absurdist fantasy. And Johnson’s outright acknowledgment that he has considered a political career has only fueled the speculation.
Formerly a registered Republican, Johnson is now a registered independent. He has mentioned several times in the last year that he is not ruling out a run. The rumors have reached such a pitch that Public Policy Polling actually conducted a recent survey that indicated “The Rock” would lead Trump in a hypothetical 2020 election.
In a recent profile in GQ magazine, Johnson told reporter Caity Weaver that both Trump’s and Hillary Clinton’s campaigns had sought his endorsement. When asked how Trump was performing as president, Johnson gave a surprisingly (or perhaps unsurprisingly) meandering non-answer.
And just a few days before the SNL season finale, Johnson appeared on “The Tonight Show,” where he again teased a possible run for president.
“Three and a half years is a long ways away,” Johnson told host Jimmy Fallon. “So we’ll see.”
The Rock wouldn’t be the first former actor to assume the presidency. Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980 after years as an actor in his youth.
The Rock wouldn’t even be the first WWE performer to become president; Donald Trump is in the WWE Hall of Fame.
With Trump’s election, celebrity candidates could become more prevalent. Oprah Winfrey flirted with the idea for running in 2020, but she and the Rock would face a similar issue: how do they commit to an ideology without alienating a large portion of their fan base?