Ventura, governors, get inside look at White House
'If I wanna be president, I probably can'
February 22, 1999
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura traded his old wrestler's tights for a tuxedo as U.S.governors had dinner with President Clinton Sunday.
Ventura, who told a newspaper he could be president if he wanted to, joined 43 other governors at the White House dinner in conjunction with the winter meeting of the National Governors' Association.
A one-time professional wrestler who shocked the political establishment with his win under the Reform Party banner in November, Ventura was making his first visit to the White House.
He was quoted in Sunday's Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper as saying, with reference to strong poll ratings since becoming governor, "If I wanna be president, I probably can."
He said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday he had no plans to run for president, at least in 2000. He explained his remarks to the newspaper by saying, "You've got to pull the press' leg now and then ... keep them hopping because if you don't do that, then they'll bring on insignificant stuff."
Ventura took a jab at first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton during the show, saying it would be inappropriate for her to run for Senate in New York, which she is considering.
"She never lived in New York. Why doesn't she run in Arkansas? That's where she's from," he said.
Governors George W. Bush and Jeb Bush, sons of former President George Bush, whom Clinton defeated in 1992, stood with Ventura and the other governors in a toast to Clinton led by Delaware's Democratic Gov. Thomas Carper, chairman of the governors' association.
"Not everyone in this room agrees with every initiative of this administration ... one of the things that we do agree on is that America is working again, and working well," Carper said. "A good deal of the credit does belong to our president."
Clinton saluted the governors for setting a "model" of bipartisanship. "Washington works best when it works as governors ... work, across party lines; focusing on ideas, not ideology; on people, not politics; on unity, not division," he said in his toast.
The president will also meet the governors Monday.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Ventura to Gore: ``Better be nice to me''
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