Former Gov. Brian Schweitzer, drawing national media attention as a potential 2016 presidential candidate, said Wednesday he has made no decision yet whether he will run.
The former Democratic governor has appeared on national television shows in recent weeks and done interviews with other national reporters, most of whom have asked him whether he intends to run for president.
“I don’t think any of the other people got an answer to that question,” he told Lee Newspapers State Bureau.
“What the future holds, I don’t know. I have business interests. I’m involved in some national communications. We’ll worry about the future when the future arrives.”
This week, Schweitzer appeared Sunday on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” and on Monday he was on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360.” Cooper interviewed Schweitzer and others about marijuana legalization. Schweitzer also occasionally co-hosts CNN’s “Crossfire.”
Slate magazine also published an online interview with Schweitzer on Monday, headlined: “I Do Not Trust Politicians.” It described Schweitzer as “the Democrat most likely to challenge Hillary Clinton in 2016.”
In the Lee Newspapers interview, Schweitzer talked about the toll that running for president can take on candidates and their families.
“When you’re on the road, you’re under constant scrutiny, your family is under constant scrutiny,” he said. “When you talk about (political) figures, they’re people. You poke them and you bleed. Their families read nasty things in the newspaper, you voted for or against something, and it hurts them personally. It’s a lot harder on the family. I’ve got a thick skin.”
Schweitzer has traveled to Iowa, site of the first presidential caucuses, and said he has visited 15-20 counties there.
Visiting all 99 Iowa counties is on his “bucket list,” Schweitzer said.
In December, he spoke to a liberal group called Progress Iowa in Altoona, Iowa, a suburb of Des Moines.
Media reports of the event said that Schweitzer repeatedly criticized Democrats in the U.S. Senate for the 2002 vote to authorize U.S. military action in Iraq. Among those casting a vote to approve the military action was then-Sen. Hillary Clinton, who is expected to run for president in 2016, although Schweitzer didn’t mention her by name.
Schweitzer said Iowans should keep that vote in mind when potential candidates crisscross the state.
“Anybody who runs in this cycle, whether they are Democrats or Republicans, if they were the United States Senate and they voted with George Bush to go to Iraq when I would say about 98 percent of America knows that it was a folly, that it was a waste of treasure and blood, and if they voted to go to Iraq there will be questions for them on the left and from the right,” he told CNN.
On another political topic, Schweitzer was emphatic that he has no interest in being appointed as Montana’s interim U.S. senator to fill the final year of the seat held by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. Baucus has said he will resign after he is confirmed as the U.S. ambassador to China.
Schweitzer considered running for full six-year Senate seat, but decided against it in July.
Some have suggested online that Schweitzer seek appointment from Gov. Steve Bullock to be a placeholder in the Senate seat for a year.
Schweitzer scoffed at the idea.
“Let’s do the math,” he said. “If I wasn’t willing to be elected to the six-year term, what are the chances I would want to live back there in a hotel for eight or nine months and have an asterisk on your name?”