I was preparing to run in New York’s Central Park during a terrible storm when I hopped onto a hotel elevator to find myself with Mitt Romney. He looked me up and down, and said, “Are you going to run in these conditions?” And I thought, “I ought to ask you the same thing!”
Ever since then I have been puzzling: If the race for the White House were actually a race (with sneakers, Spandex pants and anti-chafing creams) who would win? The question has kicked off a surprisingly lively debate among my political pundit pals. “Well, Jon Huntsman has the build for running,” one guy told me. “Yes, he looks fast,” a woman chimed in.
“Michelle Bachmann?” I asked.
“Maybe,” they both answered. “She might crank down some miles, but you can never tell.”
Here is our collective breakdown on some of the others:
Mitt Romney: Looks like he’d be too worried about his knees.
Rick Perry: More like a discus thrower.
Sarah Palin: Hard to tell. After all, every time it looks like she’s running, she’s not.
Rick Santorum: Looks good, but somehow strikes us as a fader.
Newt Gingrich: Most likely to show up sporting a weird headband from the ’70s, do a lot of stretching, then just sit on the curb.
Herman Cain: Middle-of-the-pack-er.
Ron Paul: He looks like one of those old guys who may not win, but comes chugging past wearing a smile and a shirt that says, “I may be slow, but I’m ahead of you!”
To be honest, if this were the way we picked presidents, little known candidate Gary Johnson would take the trophy; he’s a hard core, real life runner.
Of course, all that would really matter would be if the Republican champ could beat President Obama. At first our little group said, “Oh, the president is an athlete, and he’s got the Kenyan connection going for him. No way he’d lose a foot race!” But then I reminded them that he is a basketball player, and those guys are mainly about sprinting.
So the question becomes not so much “Who can jump out front fast?” but rather “Who will hold up best in a long haul?” And oddly enough, that is the same question we end up asking in our actual electoral process.
– CNN’s Tom Foreman is a regular on “AC360°”/www.ac360.com and “The Situation Room.”
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