Hillary Clinton, a wonkish disliked Democrat with an “I’m better than the other option” approach, might be looking for some help from an unlikely source: the owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks.
According to Mark Cuban, Mavericks owner and star on ABC’s Shark Tank, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign has been trying for the past month to schedule a meeting with him. It’s no surprise: Cuban—who not too long ago called Trump “probably the best thing to happen to politics in a long, long time”—is a high-profile celebrity who has lately grown increasingly critical of Trump, this month likening him to a “guy who’ll walk into the bar and say anything to get laid.”
Clinton’s aides initially attempted to connect with the outspoken businessman roughly a month ago, he says, simply for a general conversation. But the Clinton campaign also apparently reached out to Cuban on Sunday, two days after a widely circulated online Meet the Press clip posted showing the billionaire with a boyish haircut saying that he’d be willing to consider the vice-presidential slot on her ticket.
“Someone who works directly for me used to work in the White House,” Cuban told The Daily Beast, explaining how the campaign got in touch. “They reached out to [my employee] to see if a meeting with someone in her camp could be set up. Didn’t say who [or] when.”
Cuban then added that he didn’t want to “overstate any intent”—just that Team Hillary is apparently interested in a sit-down; there was no specification that the conversation would be about the VP position.
Clinton, for her part, said in a Meet the Press segment that aired Sunday that she “appreciate[s] his openness” to the running-mate question. (The Clinton campaign did not respond to The Daily Beast’s multiple requests for comment on this story.)
Cuban, however, isn’t holding his breath to join such names as Joe Biden, Dan Quayle, and Dick Cheney in the annals of vice-presidential history.
“It could end up being nothing,” Cuban conceded.
Regardless, this won’t stop the wave of “Mark Cuban for VP” speculation in the national media.
“Imagine Mark Cuban as the country’s No. 2,” The Boston Globe wrote. “Add billionaire Mark Cuban to those who now want to be president,” declared RedState. “How Mark Cuban could balance the ticket as Hillary Clinton's veep,” The Indianapolis Star mused.
So how the hell did we get here? In a presidential election dominated by news of one flamboyant billionaire shaking up the system and wreaking havoc, it’s perhaps only natural that another flamboyant billionaire be floated (even incredulously) as a possible vice-presidential contender.
But over the years, Cuban has positioned himself as something of a part-time political commentator and anti-establishment straight-talker (not unlike The Donald). He is a fairly regular presence on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, and here he is on CNN in late 2011 talking about how taxing the rich won’t tank the American economy:
And in the past year, Cuban has managed to inject himself into the circus of the presidential election and American politics, both Democratic and Republican, insisting that he would be a superior candidate to either Trump or Clinton.
“Maybe I'll run for Speaker of the House,” Cuban tweeted back in October, to some media hoopla. “Can I convince 200+ politicians to write me in? Constitution says I can try.”
And nearly a year before Cuban publicly entertained the premise of being Hillary’s running mate, he was already showing interest in a Trump–Cuban ticket.
“Would I consider? Yes,” Cuban told Business Insider last July. Yet now, he considers Trump’s impact as an indicator that he himself could succeed in presidential politics—though he doesn’t view the real estate mogul as a role model.
“Of course I would accept the meeting [with Clinton],” Cuban told The Daily Beast. “As I would with Trump.”
“There is so much partisan and tribal politics, from not just those seeking office but potential voters as well, that we never get real attempts at solutions to problems,” Cuban explained.
“I think I can push at least a tiny bit more discussion around the issues,” he continued. “More depth, less dogma. I'm not suggesting I'm going to have some earth-shattering impact, but there is no one acting as a stalking horse for solutions. Maybe I can create some discussion that helps the process.”
Unsurprisingly, Cuban has long identified as a political independent. He has contributed to members of both parties. He is socially liberal and open to progressive taxation, and yet he sings the praises of Objectivist icon Ayn Rand. In recent weeks, #NeverTrump-type Republicans have even tried behind-the-scenes to recruit Cuban into launching a third-party presidential bid this year, in a last-ditch attempt to kneecap Team Trump.
Cuban quickly dismissed the idea as unrealistic—but that’s not to say he isn’t open to a White House bid in the near future. After all, he has already played the president in a Sharknado sequel.
As for running in 2020, Cuban simply told The Daily Beast, “I go back and forth on it.”
“It’s not a decision to take lightly,” he concluded.