It was around 6:30 p.m. on a Friday at The Real Deal’s Chelsea headquarters, and while everyone was still blogging away on the fourth floor, Jimmy McMillan, of the Rent Is Too Damn High Party, was apparently milling around on the street below when publisher Amir Korangy recognized his now-iconic visage and kidnapped — er, asked, him to come upstairs to meet the staff. An obliging McMillan not only shook everyone’s ungloved hands, but also delightfully agreed to sit down later for an on-camera chat (clips above) about his presidential ambitions. Today — the day McMillan plans to head to Washington, D.C. to officially announce the start of his 2012 presidential campaign — we present Candidate McMillan, in a slightly abridged version of our conversation.
So what’s with the beard?
All the older black guys had this thing, they all cut their hair low. Everybody looked the same, everybody looked like Martin Luther King. And then all the younger guys wanna look like Michael Jordan — they all cut their hair bald. I said, “I don’t wanna look like nobody! I wanna create my own identity, my own look.” Now everybody walks around looking like me. I got ladies doing Halloween looking like Jimmy McMillan.
How did you settle on the “Rent Is Too Damn High” slogan?
At first, the Rent Is Too Damn High Party was called the Fed Up Party. The Fed Up Party wasn’t working. I had to carefully change the name to make the name effective. As a karate teacher, my job is not to hit you in places it’s not gonna hurt you. I hit you in places where you can feel the impact of my blows. Hit you across the neck, bam!… The same impact, the same thing, applies to helping people understand what went wrong in this country.
What did go wrong, in your mind?
People in New York don’t seem to understand economics. They’ve graduated from college. Dummies! They got the best of jobs on Wall Street. Idiots!… You’ve got the professors in the colleges teaching them this nonsense in the economy.
You studied economics?
Yeah, I’m a street hawk. I taught myself. I taught myself because everyone else has been wrong… We are continuing to fall into a deficit because the president don’t know that the party he is a part of is using him to do what they have been doing effectively.
Wait, you think the Democrats have been effective? And aren’t you a registered Democrat?
I changed my registration [from the Democratic Party] the first of the year. The Rent Is Too Damn High Party can still be a party in your city, town, or county. We can run it for statewide office anywhere in America, and that is what we are gonna do. But in the meantime, I’m gonna make an announcement to run [for president] under one of the existing parties… And they are all dumb. I am gonna be their worst nightmare.
You’re talking to education. You’re talking to the Professor of Street Knowledge, and that is me. I’m here to help people get it right… We are in a world of silliness where people still can’t afford to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Do you think you have a chance to win in 2012?
Greater than that. I’ve tapped into Obama’s base… when I give my speech [today], they’re not gonna run against me. This is going to be the most powerful speech you’ve ever seen.
What do you think about your possible contenders, like Donald Trump?
Donald Trump is my dawg. Donald Trump, don’t be surprised if you get a call from me. I don’t have your number, so I’m looking for you to contact me. But I’m gonna put it in [the] universe: I think you’d make an excellent vice [president].
Any others on the short list for VP?
Donald Trump — that was my first thought. And then the second one [that] came into mind was Michael Bloomberg. The third person [that] came into mind was Mitt Romney. And Newt Gingrich. I used to bodyguard for Mel Hall of the New York Yankees, and my job was to take the attention off of Mel Hall. Their job would be to take the attention off of me — off of the comedy thing. I realize what is going on.
What will you do if elected?
I’m gonna waive all debt. I’m gonna pardon all debt of American citizens.
You pardon it. As president, I can do that. I can pardon all debt. Because the deficit is too damn high… I wanna stand over America and look down and say one thing: “Daddy’s home.”
Speaking of fathers, how many children do you have?
I have a son. I have a daughter, too. My daughter has spinal dystrophy — she’s deformed. And coming out of the war, my son right now is laid off. He has unemployment right now and I just told him, “you just hold on, because Daddy’s putting himself in a position to do what Daddy [will] do for his kids.”
What do you say to people who think your 15 minutes of fame are almost up?
They’re wrong. [If the] Rent Is Too Damn High forever, Jimmy McMillan got fame forever! I brought it to the surface. Now they’re starting to use the word “damn” on TV commercials. Look what I have done! This is what 15 minutes of fame has brought you: down the avenue of stupidity!