Jesse Ventura on the RNC, the DNC, and Cuba

He also describes his meeting with Fidel Castro, the secret message Castro sent him, and a potential run for President in 2016. Photo: Associated Press

Kelly: Did you have an opportunity to watch any of the conventions?

Ventura: No. I didn’t watch one minute of them. Why should I? I’ll tell you why. It’s nothing but political theatre. They’ll make grandiose promises to the whole world, won’t come through with any of them, and why do I need to watch three hours of getting lied to? You know what they should have been playing in the background for both political conventions? They should have been playing Johnny Lang’s “Lie to me.” That should have been the theme song for both of these conventions, Johnny Lang’s “Lie to me.”

Kelly: One unreported story from the RNC involved the party apparatus passing a new bylaws provision which allows the RNC to change the rules between national conventions. It also dictates that the winner of future contests collects all of the delegates. This ensures that if a grass-roots campaign attempts to duplicate the success of the Ron Paul’s campaign, it would face much higher barriers to success. What are your thoughts?

Ventura: Absolutely. That’s what they do. What’s interesting in the private sector they tell you that competition is good, but on their part there’s no competition. The two gangs pick two members and that’s who you have to pick. You have to pick who the gangs choose. I knew we were going to get Mitt Romney four years ago. You know how I knew that?

Kelly: The Mormon ads.

Ventura: Yup. Very good young man. I’m impressed. You’re the first person that’s known that. I’m impressed. Four years ago I turned to my wife and said: we’re going to get Mitt Romney in four years. Why do you think they’re running these ads on TV where they show a fireman or whatever, and at the end of the ad he turns to the camera and he says: I’m a Mormon. They were already greasing the skids to get people ready to accept Mormonism, and lo and behold here he is. Tell me it’s not fixed and planned out. You know why else I’m able to see through this shit? I come from the world of pro-wrestling. One of my classes I taught at Harvard was how pro-wrestling prepares you for politics. That’s what pro-wrestling is. We all know what’s going to happen.

Kelly: It’s all for show.

Ventura: Yeah. It’s a show. That’s what we got with the politics. Politics is now a show.

Kelly: The DNC this year cut all pro-civil liberty issues out of the party platform. This is far different than the DNC of four years ago.

Ventura: Wow. That’s news to me. Like I said I don’t watch and I don’t pay attention to them because I have no truthful interests in these two parties. Wow. That’s interesting.

Kelly: If you had an opportunity to address the two conventions, what would you say?

Ventura: What would I say? Jeez. That’s a hell of a question to ask me off of the top of my head. What would I say to them? I would tell them that we want our country back, and I would tell them to stop the hypocrisy of what they do. It would be like talking to a den of criminals. I make the comparison between the Crips and the Bloods and the Democrats and Republicans. The Democrats and the Republicans are far far more dangerous than the Crips and the Bloods. You want to know why?

Kelly: Well, because their policies affect everyone Governor.

Ventura: Exactly. Boy, God you’re smart. You’re impressing me. Yes. No other reporters know any of that. The Crips and Bloods only affect you if you happen to live in their neighborhood. The Democrats and Republicans affect each and every single one of us which makes them far far more dangerous. Very good.

Kelly: You’ve recently announced your intention to potentially run for President in 2016. If you do run, who would you choose as your running mate?

Ventura: I don’t know. Two things have to be met before I do that. Before I’d even consider it. First of all, I would run with no political party. I would run as Governor Jesse Ventura, attached to no one. I would give the people the opportunity to elect a President that does not belong to a party or one of these gangs, but that would require something because the other thing is- what disgusts me is how you have to raise all of this money. Money, money, money.

Do you realize that I am the only major elected official in the last half a century I bet who can make this statement: I made more money doing the job than I spent to get it. When I ran for Governor of Minnesota I only raised $300,000, and I made $120,000 a year for four years. That means I made $480,000. It would require a grass-roots movement to take place in this country, and the reason I am forcing this is because this country has to show me it’s worth it for me to put my ass on the line again. The way they can do that, is a grass-roots movement that can get me on the ballot in all 50 states. Having achieved that, this grass-roots movement would have to demand and guarantee me that I would be allowed in the debates because you cannot win without being in the debates. I proved in Minnesota, at the primary I was polling only 10% which does not meet the threshold on the presidents. They claim that you have to be polling 15% to get into the debates. I was only polling 10% at the primary in Minnesota, and because I was allowed in the debates, seven weeks later I was the Governor of Minnesota. I went from 10% to winning.

Kelly: In your previous book “Don’t Start the Revolution without Me” you discuss a trip you took to Cuba. Hypothetically, if Obama or Romney wins in 2012, and relations between Cuba and the United States drastically improve, and if the President or Romney asked you, would you consider becoming the American Ambassador to Cuba?

Ventura: Absolutely. I had already volunteered for that. I said that if we change relations with Cuba, I would love to be the Ambassador to Cuba. Love to be it. Not only would it be historical because we haven’t had one in half a century or more. I went there and I was the only elected official who had a one hour meeting with Fidel Castro.

Kelly: What’s he like?

Ventura: I found him very engaging. When I met him, he had the most distinctive handshake and I’ve shook a lot of hands, but I’ll always remember his. He looked me right in the eye, and the first thing he said to was: You’re a man of great courage. I looked at him, and I said: Mr. President, you don’t know me, how can you say that? He said: Because you defied your President to come here. I said: Well, you’ll find I defy almost everything. He started laughing.

When I got out of office, he secretly sent me a message. Castro did. One day my chief of staff came in, and he said: Governor you’ve got to go to the Governor’s residence after work today at 4 o’clock. He said: You’ve got to go there first. He quietly said to me: Cuba. So I went home, and the guy came via the Swiss Embassy because we have no relationship with Cuba. He met with me, and the message he was sending me was when I was getting out of office, here’s what I was told. He said: Governor I’m here to tell you something. I’m here to tell you: A friend of Cuba will always be a friend of Cuba. In other words, they knew I was getting out of office, but it didn’t matter to them. I would still be their friend. A lot of people would call me a traitor for that. Wouldn’t they?

Kelly: No. I think it speaks great volumes that we can see each other across the battle line and we’re able to reconcile our differences with one another.

Ventura: Do you want to know the most disgusting thing I ever saw was? Remember Hurricane Katrina? Fidel Castro offered us 100 doctors to go to New Orleans, and George Bush turned him down flat. Come on. If anybody knows about hurricanes its Fidel. Cuba gets hit all the time. Here he does a gesture where he holds out the fig leaf, and what do we do? We slap it back in his face. One of the first things I’d do if I was President, I would end the embargo immediately, and do you know what else I would do? I would go down visit Fidel, as old as he is, and I would say: Fidel, we will close Gitmo within one year and give it back to the people of Cuba.

Kelly: With so much uncertainty in the world, what advice would you give to the young people of this nation/generation?

Ventura: I’d tell you to keep the faith. Don’t let it die in the 60’s like we did after the Vietnam War ended. There went our generation with it because we felt like there was nothing left to fight for-Vietnam was over. I would tell the young generation this, and even now, the future is in your hands, and you can change the course of it by doing something that is as simple as the nose on your face, but is as difficult as climbing Everest. You know what that is? Stop voting for Democrats or Republicans. That’s the only thing we have left. That’s the only way we can take it back is the power of the vote, but we can’t be voting for Democrats or Republicans, you have to find an alternative candidate. There’s one now. I’m fully supporting Governor Gary Johnson, the former Governor of New Mexico who is running under the Libertarian Party.

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Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly is currently a college student majoring in History and Political Science. His writings have appeared in The Daily Local, Lew’s blog, The Washington Times,, and Freedom’s Phoenix Online Digital Magazine. He has been a popular guest political contributor to numerous national radio shows across the country, offering his perspective on a wide array of issues. 

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