“The last thing this race needs is another candidate who is meticulous about his hair,” Mr. Williams told The Observer in an e-mail message.
Grooming anxiety could pose a major campaign obstacle for the would-be candidate. Mr. Williams’ square-jawed good looks were one of his major qualifications for office, according to campaign literature.
Another apparent qualification was his ability to appeal to the concerns of young, urban voters. Primarily, themselves.
The Brian Williams for President, Please? movement began as a listserv of young New Yorkers sharing “awesome” Brian Williams video clips, beginning with one in which Mr. Williams mocked The New York Times‘s lifestyle coverage of Brooklyn.
“Once a day there is a story about all the riches found in that borough,” Mr. Williams said on Morning Joe. “There are young men and women wearing ironic glass frames on the streets. There are open-air markets, like trading posts in the early Chippewa tribes.”
“That was the first one that got sent around. It’s dead on,” campaign manager Eric Cunningham told The Observer. “Then we just start talking about how great that was.” Mr. Cunningham, a sketch comedian at the UCB Theater, lives in Brooklyn. He supported President Barack Obama in the 2008 election.
Although he is not expected to announce his intent to run, Mr. Williams is considering how best to leverage the momentum.
“While I’m flattered and mulling over how to mis-use the funds already raised, my only role in this election cycle will be as debate moderator and journalist,” Mr. Williams wrote.
An Observer investigation found Mr. Williams’ number one backer to be the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), by way of a subsidiary program called Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Mr. Cunningham won $100,000 on the game show in 2008. ABC is a major competitor of Mr. Williams’ employer, NBC.
“I mean, yeah, some of that money has been diverted to the Brian Williams campaign,” Mr. Cunningham admitted, “Elections aren’t cheap.”
On the show, Mr. Cunningham proved himself a cunning strategist. Without any “life lines” and unable to recall who first coined the term “pandemonium” as a name for the capital of Hell, Mr. Cunningham walked away with $100,000. (It was John Milton.)
As such, Mr. Cunningham is unlikely to be discouraged by Mr. Williams’ deferral.
“It doesn’t have to be 2012. It could be 2016,” he told The Observer. “We’re willing to wait.”
UPDATE: Mr. Williams has been doling out the same jokey comment to all news sources, so this is not exactly “exclusive.” The correction has been appended. Our fellow media bloggers, Mediaite, published the same comment a few days ago. Our bad. But good thing he’s not running. This would not have gotten past the White House press corps.
Follow Kat Stoeffel via RSS.