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John Hickenlooper Is Running for President As Himself. Uh-oh.

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By TIM ALBERTAMarch 29, 2019Tim Alberta is chief political correspondent for Politico Magazine.DES MOINES—The man knows how to make an entrance.During his opening swing through Iowa after declaring his candidacy for president, at his very first campaign stop inside a bustling brew pub here south of downtown, John Hickenlooper arrives to find a crowd of more than 100 voters buzzing about the latest applicant to join the strangest job-interviewing process on Earth. Hickenlooper instinctively kneels and begins picking up the shards with his bare hands, shooing away staffers trying to stop him, and assuring them that nobody in this bar has more experience picking up broken glass than he has.“He’s down to earth, that’s for sure,” says Pat Rynard, a prominent local Democrat who runs the blog | Stephen Voss for Politico MagazineThe candidate’s friends call him “odd,” “quirky,” “eccentric.” For anyone who watched Hickenlooper’s recent CNN town hall—a prime-time event capable of jump-starting a longshot candidacy—these descriptors seem generous. When asked whether he would commit to picking a woman as his running mate, Hickenlooper said he would, then drew groans from the audience by adding, “How come we’re not asking, more often, the women, ‘Would you be willing to put a man on the ticket?’” (He clearly intended to highlight the historic gender imbalance in presidential politics, but the execution made him seem tone-deaf at best or pandering at worst.) Later in the program, Hickenlooper recalled the time he took his mother to see “Deep Throat” due to his ignorance of what the X-rating meant, setting social media ablaze once more and likely sending his campaign staffers scattering for the nearest cocktail hour.Not that any of this should come as a surprise. Or when, sipping a stout in Des Moines while greeting voters following his event, he responds to a practical question about how to bring people together by hoisting his beer and shrugging his head sideways, as if to say, “A few of these couldn’t hurt.”Hickenlooper was just 8 years old when John Hickenlooper Sr. died, leaving him with few pearls of fatherly wisdom. | Stephen Voss for Politico MagazineThere is plenty to like: a trained scientist who quotes classic literature; a self-made multimillionaire whose business successes were interwoven with urban revitalization; a big-city mayor who was recognized as one of America’s best, fixing budget shortfalls and expanding public transportation by persuading Republicans to support a sales-tax hike; a two-term, purple-state governor who has real results to show for his efforts in expanding health care coverage, reducing gun violence, spurring economic growth and tackling climate change.But presidential elections are beauty pageants, and Hickenlooper is hardly a knockout. The punchline: When the professor asks her class, “What’s the opposite of woe?” one of her students yells, “Giddyup!” It’s good for a folksy giggle—at least, it is in Des Moines—with Hickenlooper using the story to illustrate how moments of sorrow are best met by getting back on the horse and charging forward. What struck John Jr. as a child was how his mother would roll his father over in the middle of the night, every night, changing the sweat-soaked sheets; what strikes him as an adult, with the tears welling in his eyes, is how a wealthy neighbor who’d seen his mother lugging the daily loads of laundry to the cleaners surprised her by paying for a linen service to help the family.1988 - John Hickenlooper, a former geologist by trade, with a couple business partners, opens Wynkoop, a brewpub and billiards hall, in the then-bleak lower downtown, or “LoDo,” region of Denver, which helped to kickstart the revitalization of the area. He would be reelected in 2014, but by a much smaller margin.Mar. 4, 2019 - Hickenlooper announces his campaign to seek the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, saying, "we need dreamers in Washington but we also need to get things done. You feel abandoned by the world, and you’re looking for a sense of community,” Hickenlooper says. In 1988, renting the building for $1 per square foot, they opened the Wynkoop Brewing Co.“I thought I was a good geologist,” Hickenlooper recalls. “But my first day in the restaurant, dealing with the customers and the cooks, I felt at home.”***We’re standing in the basement of the Wynkoop, just outside the room where a hulking, metal contraption processes grain, and Hickenlooper is acting out a story about the time when he stuck his face in a toilet caked with hardened feces.These were the early days of entrepreneurial hardship, pinching pennies and gutting out whatever tasks came his way. The level of expertise you need to run a brewpub, it’s not running a fast-food concession,” says Patty Calhoun, the founding editor of Westword, the city’s acerbic alt-weekly, who worked in the neighborhood and became one of Hickenlooper’s regulars.At the grand opening, a panicked Hickenlooper poured beers in solo cups for 25 cents each because the dishwashers couldn’t keep pace. Sometimes he had too much fun: The year after the bar opened, Hickenlooper was arrested for drunk driving, after which he introduced a designated-driver program at the Wynkoop.Traveling the premises with Hickenlooper today, hearing the bartenders talk of “the brewery that brewed a neighborhood,” it’s tempting to think of him as a visionary. “From the Wynkoop to the White House” reads a chalk board, top left, at Hickenlooper’s campaign stop at the Octopus bar, alluding to the candidate’s Denver brewpub that he started many years ago which had set into motion the chain of events that led him to politics. “So much for my Spanish,” he mutters to no one in particular.***The guest of honor is running late.It’s an icy Saturday afternoon in Dubuque, Iowa, the second day of Hickenlooper’s swing through the state, and a crowd of some 50 local Democrats has crammed inside the home of Jack Wertzberger. It also exposed Hickenlooper to the inner-workings of a political class he found unresponsive to the needs of the city.“I'm not the typical little guy who makes it big,” he told the New York Times in 2003. Less than two years into his tenure, TIME called him one of America’s five best big-city mayors, noting how he “inherited a $70 million budget deficit, the worst in city history” and “eliminated the shortfall without major service cuts or layoffs, convincing city employees that they should accept less pay and instituting mandatory leave days.” More impressive, Hickenlooper secured bipartisan support for a series of tax hikes to fund various quality-of-life initiatives, the crown jewel of which was a nearly-$5 billion mass-transit project. “As far as real-life political fairy tales go, it was just about impossible to trump Mayor Hickenlooper,” read a 2012 article in Denver’s 5280 magazine. On crutches, Hickenlooper visited all 22 counties that had been submerged.”The Post added, “Between fallen soldiers, natural disasters and gun violence, Hickenlooper would attend more than 50 funerals during his first term.”“We had this string of tragedies, and he had to identify how to be a leader in communities that were new to him,” says Tami Door, CEO of the Denver Downtown Partnership. I’m not just a dreamer, but a doer.”***It’s been a few weeks since we toured the Wynkoop in Denver, and as we talk in the middle row of his campaign’s rented car, I can’t help but ask about the face blindness—a seemingly debilitating condition for an aspiring president.It was only five or six years ago, Hickenlooper says, that he came to realize his condition. Only when he read an article by the late neurologist Oliver Sacks, who also suffered from the cognitive disorder, did Hickenlooper make sense of his own struggle.So, I ask, did you recognize me today?“No,” he says, shaking his head. Bill Clinton used to keep note cards with personal information about a person’s family and interests to dazzle them with a personal touch on the chance they met a second time; Hickenlooper can’t remember meeting someone unless he sees them once a week.He laughs off my concerns, describing how running a restaurant with his impairment makes running for public office seem like a breeze. At the offices of small businessman Jim Davis in Charles City, Iowa, Davis, bottom, introduces the Colorado businessman who, while running for the Democratic nomination for president, calls himself a “fiscal conservative.” | Stephen Voss for Politico MagazineIt’s a daunting challenge, but then again, Hickenlooper has lots of those to worry about. “No, I’m not going to say that,” Hickenlooper says quickly. But at this moment in time I just don’t see it.”***Hickenlooper is about to commence his fourth campaign event of the day, this one inside a coffee shop in Clinton, and he’s got one more stop in Cedar Rapids that evening before hopping on a plane and flying to Austin, Texas, for the annual South by Southwest festival. “I think he comes across as appealing, but you can’t get too wonky with an audience.” Pardee says Hickenlooper’s first answer, to a question about getting tough on China, was meandering and “a little thin.”Then, unprompted, Pardee raises another concern: Hickenlooper’s recent appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, during which he refused—despite several opportunities—to identify as a capitalist.Hickenlooper tells me he doesn’t like “labels” of any kind, as if that rationalizes his reticence.

As said here by TIM ALBERTA