After 60 Years, Stassen's Still Going
By Timothy Noah

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Just as "Rube Goldberg" is a name better known for its metaphorical meaning of a "needlessly complicated scheme" than for the actual cartoonist (1883-1970), so "Harold Stassen" to most people means "perpetual presidential candidate." The 2000 race has more than its share of repeat candidacies, so Stassen's name has been coming up a lot in reference to types like Pat Buchanan and (before he bowed out) Lamar Alexander. Explaining why Jesse Jackson wasn't running, the New York Post's Deborah Orin said on CNBC, "He doesn't want to be a Harold Stassen." A recent profile in the Philadelphia Inquirer aptly described Stassen as a "man respected for his ideas in the century's first half...[who] became comic relief in the second." Stassen, 92, who won the governorship of Minnesota in 1938 and has been vying for the GOP presidential nomination ever since, appears to be good-naturedly in on the joke. He's run mostly "to bring the issues forward." He says, "To get any attention on your views on issues, you either have to be in an office or a candidate for office. So frequently I would file in a few primaries." His followers were thrilled when he told the Washington Post he was "leaving the option open" for a run in 2000. But he later confided to FORTUNE, "As you know, I'm pretty well along in years.... I don't consider it as any real potential."

--Timothy Noah