CNBC host ‘flattered’ by ‘Draft Rick Santelli’ efforts

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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CNBC host Rick Santelli told The Daily Caller that he’s flattered by efforts to draft him into the presidential contest, but has no plans to leave TV for electoral politics.

A 67-year-old retired Nevada attorney, Jeff Kahn, has been spearheading an effort to encourage Santelli, often described as the Paul Revere of the tea party movement, to run for president at DraftSantelliForPresident2012.com.

“I’m flattered by Jeff’s efforts but I really love what I do here at CNBC so I am not leaving anytime soon,” Santelli told TheDC on Wednesday.

But in a phone interview, Kahn said he still hopes Santelli can be convinced otherwise.

The effort, he said, grew out of frustration with the Republican presidential candidates. “None of the guys are really the right ones,” said Kahn.

“Is there somebody waiting in the wings?” he said. “The answer is yes. Santelli is waiting in the wings.”

Tea partiers often credit Santelli for helping to name the grassroots movement when, during a show in February 2009, he called on viewers to launch a modern-day tea party. He hasn’t been active at all in the movement since then. (RELATED: More on Rick Santelli)

Kahn said his “Draft Santelli” idea all began in October, when he and his wife decided to brainstorm on an ideal late entry candidate who could energize Republicans.

“So the two of us thought about it overnight,” Kahn recalled. “We woke up in the morning and we walked in the family room and we both looked at each other and said simultaneously ‘Rick Santelli.’ It was like an oh my god moment.'”

Later that night, Kahn tracked down Santelli’s home phone number. He left message on the CNBC reporter’s answering machine, telling Santelli he has something very interesting to talk to him about.

Santelli called him back the next morning.

After several conversations, Kahn said Santelli told him he wasn’t interested in leaving CNBC to run for office but he didn’t discourage him from starting a draft campaign.

“He said, ‘hey, you know, do what you feel you want to do,'” Kahn recalled. “And so we set up the website and I have kept him in the loop on everything.”

Santelli even invited Kahn to Chicago to discuss the draft effort at one point, the lawyer said.

“I gave him a full-blown presentation, which he was impressed by,” Kahn said.

On the website put together by Kahn, he lays out a jobs plan, “With full recognition to Rick Santelli’s long-standing mantras of ‘Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!’ and ‘Stop Spending, Stop Spending, Stop Spending!’”

The website tells visitors that the draft effort is to show Santelli “the widespread support he would receive if he chooses to run.”

“I always found him to be a guy who, like they say, tells it like it is,” Kahn said.

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