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Jim Gilmore and George Pataki are currently running for president but have virtually no chance of winning the primary. I doubt most voters would even be able to pick them in a lineup.

They are not really campaigning, they don't have any organization, so why not quit?

Are there any financial and/or tax reasons to keep the campaign active, even if only on paper?

30

Did you know who Jim Gilmore and George Pataki were before they ran for president? Unless you happen to be living in Virginia or New York or are a huge politics buff, you likely haven't. But now you know them. See?

Running for president makes them better known to lots of people outside of their usual circle. This enhances their celebrity status and increases the sales value of their personality. Even though they might not win this election, going through with it might help them to win other elections for lower positions later. Or at least make some money by selling some books and getting a well-paying job in the industry.

It also allows one to get a larger audience for their agenda and soap-box their opinion. Just by being a candidate, their statements and opinions get compared to that of other candidates and thus get far more public attention. I suspect this is one reason why, for example, Bernie Sanders hasn't yet folded against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic preliminaries. His social-democratic agenda is quite a minority viewpoint among Americans, but his campaign gives him the opportunity to convince more and more people of it. It might not help him personally, but it might help his ideas to become more popular in the future.

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    not only to make your own name more well known, but your positions as well (provided you actually differ from those already in the race) - it might be the only time people might hear about a particular approach to a policy. And of course, there is always 'running for VP or a cabinet position' – pluckedkiwi Dec 23 '15 at 16:51
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    I get that, but nobody is talking about these guys, they are not in the media, as far as I know they are not even campaigning. – ventsyv Dec 28 '15 at 3:12
  • Tim Pawlenty, Thaddeus McCotter, Fred Thompson, Alan Keyes, Jack Fellure, Duncan Hunter, Gary Bauer, Orrin Hatch, are some of the names of former candidates campaigning in the republican primaries since 2000. I don't think being candidates actually changed anything for them. – JP de la Torre Jan 11 '16 at 1:31
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    Just to be clear, Bernie Sanders' social democratic agenda is supported by a large majority of Americans. This was the case even before anyone knew he was running. salon.com/2015/07/11/… The problem is that Congress does not do what Americans want and the establishment depicts his popular ideas as unpopular and fringe. scholar.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/mgilens/files/… – J Doe Feb 10 '16 at 1:25
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There are many reasons.

  • Ego.
  • Direct money. Today, in the US, the concept of a SuperPAC is an effective way to make money. Stephen Colbert demonstrated this when he ran for president.
  • Indirect money/publicity. Running for president gets you publicity. Publicity can get you things like book deals, lobbying gigs, news commentary gigs.
  • A desire to shape the public debate. This is arguably the more 'noble' of the reasons to run for president knowing you have no chance of winning. The idea is that at least during your active campaign, you can try and get issues out in the open and hopefully get other, more viable candidates to address the issues.
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Many presidents started off as candidates not likely to win (ie Obama, Reagen). You never know when lighting in a bottle catches and they end up winning. Pataki is a popular moderate EX- Gov of NY, he would make an excellent president IMHO.

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    Obama's online fundraising was state of the art. Jim Gilmore has raised peanuts - less than $300,000. Not to mention that he did even file to be on the ballot in Idaho, Oklahoma and Michigan. – ventsyv Dec 29 '15 at 14:28
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Even if a candidate has no chance of winning the primary, they might win delegates to send to the national party convention, where those delegates get a say in determining the party platform for the next four years. This presumably affects the ideological direction of the party but I'm not clear how.

And as others have pointed out, the presidential campaign is a national platform for spreading the candidate's ideas. The candidate might be able to force the frontrunner to adopt their position, as Clinton was forced to do several times when running against Sanders.

Or a candidate can take advantage the national platform to promote themselves. Candidates often publish bestselling memoirs during their campaign, or leverage their name recognition in to paid positions as "expert" commentators for the 24 hour news networks, as Howard Dean has done, or bigger ratings for their reality TV shows, as Donald Trump will be able to do.

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Some candidates run to bring more attention toward their agenda, for instance: Ron Paul did it to wake people up into Libertarianism.

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  • I don't follow the logic. If someone is committed to a certain idea and also has some funds to expend for popularizing it, there exist better ways to expend their budget and deliver their ideas through the mass media. – bytebuster Feb 22 '16 at 0:04
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    Hmm… Media usually don't change their rhetoric after the new President comes to power. On the contrary, one first builds their media empires (like Bloomberg or Trump) or "makes friends" with the existing ones (like Clintons) to make them deliver your ideas. Make sense? – bytebuster Feb 22 '16 at 2:59
  • I can't tell if you're arguing against something I said. Anyway, the mainstream media serves "The Establishment" / "The Deep State" etc, whatever you'd call the tiny elite with "the real power", calling the shots from behind the scenes. Clintons are included, by the way. – Kikka Kutonen Feb 23 '16 at 12:14
  • Note: My original reply above was edited by an admin who removed a couple of anti-government, pro-sanity paragraphs from it. Yay censorship. He must be proud! – Kikka Kutonen Apr 24 '16 at 16:29
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Running for office is a good excuse to ask for funding without liability. That might be a good reason.

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