- The Washington Times - Monday, March 4, 2002

Character, charisma and a power tie: Surely this is the stuff of an American president. Hollywood has a few more embellishments, however.
White House hopefuls have less than three weeks to submit their applications to "Candidate 2012," a new HBO reality TV show intent on finding "one curious and compelling young American" to go through the rigors of the campaign trail.
Several hundred applications already have arrived, said Los Angeles-based director R.J. Cutler.
"Actually, I am completely overwhelmed by how many people see themselves as viable candidates. This is no lark. They are serious," he said Friday. "They believe their passion could one day lead them to the White House."
Mr. Cutler and his staff have boiled down presidential qualifications to 60 questions plumbing aspirants' political souls and debating their styles and tastes in movies, best friends, heroes and spouses, among other things.
They are not alone in assigning a touchy-feely quotient to the office. Public polls from the likes of CNN and Newsweek often include questions about a candidate's emotional appeal. A group of University of Iowa psychologists, in the meantime, surveyed 100 presidential historians to discover that presidents come in eight types, including dominators, introverts, good guys, innocents, actors, philosophers and extroverts.
HBO favors all-comers and has posted a nine-page application on its Web site (www.hbo.com/candidate2012). Though there are queries about "wild" experiences and a plea to "list three adjectives that best describe you," the show has some basic requirements. Potential presidents must be between 24 and 29, natural-born U.S. citizens and not running for any real political office.
The process, Mr. Cutler said, will make great theater once a "candidate" is picked and filming begins around July Fourth. The winner must agree to travel the country for the next eight months on an all-out baby-kissing, flag-waving whistlestop tour.
"We're not polling here," he said. "We're looking for someone with vision and drive, willing to make that journey, to be the person America will need in 10 years. It's an adventure, it's great storytelling. And maybe we will prove that somebody who can get their own TV show can also become president."
Mr. Cutler believes the reams of applications disprove the notion that today's twentysomethings are disengaged from politics.
"They may be skeptical and cynical, but they care and they want to change things," he said.
Indeed. Already several dozen young people have declared their intent to run for president in 2012 and beyond, arming themselves with Web sites, issues statements, press interviews and even campaign T-shirts.
"I know I am the right choice in 2024. I know I can help you and your family, or I will die trying," New York Republican Christopher T. Peek, who turns 20 in November, writes at his new campaign Web site (www.borg.com/~camp).
Mr. Peek is an issues kind of guy.
He is "in favor of the proposed anti-flag burning amendment; in favor of expanding our defense budget and a strong military; in favor of a missile defense system; in favor of the proposed 'English as the national language' legislation; pro-life; in favor of strict 'welfare to work' programs; in favor of national education standards; in favor of certain aspects of affirmative action but not in favor of its quota system; in favor of the death penalty; and in favor of social justice."
California Democrat Christian Shelton, 18, may oppose Mr. Peek 22 years down the road. He also plans to run for president in 2024 and "be the first Democratic president elected from California," he advises at his Web site (https://members.safepages.com/shelton/shelton.html).
"Until the day I reside in the hallowed halls of the White House, or hold an elected position, I will remain a citizen," the Berkeley native writes. "But I will always try to espouse what it means to be an American."

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