No, he does not expect to win.
But in putting his name on the Republican ballot in the Feb. 11 New Hampshire presidential primary against Donald Trump, Rick Kraft — a son of South Pasadena whose motivational “Just A Thought” column has run in the Review for nearly four years — is hoping to “make an impact” on the level of civility in the national discourse.
“The polarization is at an all-time high — more in this current term,’’ Kraft, a 1976 South Pas High School graduate who now practices law in Roswell, N.M., told the Review earlier this week.
“A major component of the polarization is our leadership from the top of both parties (but) I’ve tried to stay out of the partisanship.’’
Indeed, Kraft — whose column will go on hiatus in the Review until after the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary — stressed that while Trump’s “leadership style is provoking what’s going on,’’ he is not singling out the president.
Rather, Kraft said, both sides are to blame for the level of nastiness the now dominates the discourse. And he hopes to change that or go down trying.
“I don’t want to say one party or the other is to blame,’’ Kraft said. “I’d land on both of them. … To me, we’ve hand a trend over the years — with the current atmosphere, it seems the most important thing is taking power and keeping power, being in control.
“I am repeatedly asked why I am running for president,’’ he added. “In addition to encouraging people to get out and vote, I share about this being great country where we each have freedom to run for any office of our choice from local to national and to put ourselves in a position of influence to make a difference in the lives of others.
“On a national level, I would like to see civility return to our country on a leadership level. We live in a country that suffers from a major case of polarization. We are our own worst enemy.’’
Kraft, 61, who’s been practicing law for 37 years, said his campaign began as something of a lark about a year ago, when he was vacationing with his wife Tanya in New Hampshire and they took a tour of the state capitol in Concord.
A tour guide mentioned that “anyone can run for president here in New Hampshire” — all you need to do is register with a party, pay a $1,000 fee and complete a declaration of candidacy.
“As we left the building I told my wife, ‘I think I will run for president in 2020,’ ” Kraft recalled.
“She smiled — I have been known to say off-the-wall things before — and we finished our trip in New England.’’
But things got a bit more serious once Kraft carried through on his plan last week. He candidacy, symbolic though it may be, caught the attention of national media, including USA Today, which ran an item on Kraft last weekend.
Since then, he said, various TV stations in his home state of New Mexico, as well as newspapers across the country, have picked up the story. And his Facebook page — “Rick Kraft for President 2020” — has received more than 6,000 reaches.
“It was a whirlwind week,’’ Kraft wrote in a special column for the Review. “In seven days, I went from announcing my decision to run for president in the New Hampshire primary to my decision being printed nationally. It will be a week I always remember.’’
Kraft — who has been president of both the New Mexico State Bar Association and the Young Lawyer’s Division — does not plan to campaign in person in New Hampshire, nor does he plan to enter any other primaries. His dalliance on the national stage is more polemical than political.
He said his campaign will focus, from a distance, on social media and whatever other coverage he gets.
As for registering as a Republican rather than a Democrat, Kraft — a lifelong independent — said his views “lean conservative,” so he picked the GOP. Five others besides Trump and Kraft are on the Republican ballot in New Hampshire.
“I wasn’t trying to make a statement that I don’t care for the Democrats,” he said. “My goal isn’t to send a statement against (Joe) Biden or Trump, or anybody — I just chose a party.
“Nor am I saying Trump is a blankety-blank — that’s partisanship.
“I’m trying to keep from going on record that we have a blankety-blank as president. The Democrats come right back. I’d rather just take the high road rather than trash any other specific candidate.’’
In his column on his candidacy, Kraft said, “I regularly go into the courtroom and fight against the other side to seek justice. Both attorneys use every argument we can to fight for what we believe in, but we do it respectfully. At the end of the hearing the court rules, we live with the outcome and move on. Our efforts have advanced our positions, but we do it respectfully.
“I believe the two-party system is healthy for our country and hope that neither party ever loses the accountability the other party brings. Opposition is good and the freedom to speak out is better. The problem is that we spend too much time ‘infighting’ rather than using our energy to ‘move the ball down the field’ and to take care of the needs of our country and our citizens.’’
Kraft told the Review he will be very curious to see how many voters choose him come Feb. 11.
“Obviously it’s not a winnable election,’’ he said. “But I do want to make an impact.”