11th July 2024 – (Washington) 63-year-old Hollywood icon and Democratic stalwart George Clooney has issued a clarion call for President Joe Biden to withdraw from the 2024 presidential race. This bold move, articulated in a New York Times op-ed, has not only reignited discussions about Biden’s age and fitness for office but has also sparked speculation about Clooney’s own political ambitions.

As a highly respected actor, director, and activist, he has long been a powerful voice within the Democratic Party. His recent call for Biden to step aside represents perhaps his most significant foray into high-stakes national politics. But does this signal a potential shift from influencer to candidate?

George Clooney’s political engagement has always extended far beyond the typical Hollywood activism. His deep involvement in humanitarian causes, from Sudan to Syria, has earned him credibility in international affairs. His fundraising prowess for Democratic candidates is legendary, with his recent event for Biden raising a record-breaking $30 million in a single night.

Clooney’s appeal lies not just in his celebrity status but in his articulate, thoughtful approach to complex issues. He has consistently demonstrated an ability to connect with both the Democratic base and moderate voters, a rare quality in today’s polarized political climate.

However, the transition from beloved actor to viable presidential candidate is fraught with challenges. Clooney would need to overcome the “celebrity candidate” stigma that has dogged previous Hollywood-to-politics transitions. While Ronald Reagan successfully made this leap, others like Donald Trump have had more mixed results, with their celebrity status both helping and hindering their political careers.

Ironically, Clooney’s criticism of Biden’s age could become a focal point if he were to consider a presidential run. At 63, Clooney is significantly younger than both Biden and Trump, potentially positioning him as a more energetic alternative. However, by the time of the 2028 or 2032 elections, Clooney would be approaching or surpassing 70, potentially facing similar age-related scrutiny.

Dr. Jennifer Lawless, a political scientist at the University of Virginia, notes, “Age has become a critical factor in presidential politics. Clooney’s current age could be an asset, but time is not on his side if he’s considering a future run.”

While Clooney has been outspoken on various political issues, transitioning from advocate to policymaker would require a significant shift. His lack of governmental experience could be a significant hurdle, especially in a post-Trump era where many voters are wary of outsider candidates.

To be taken seriously as a potential presidential candidate, Clooney would need to demonstrate a deep understanding of complex policy issues, from economic strategy to foreign relations. His international humanitarian work provides a foundation, but he would need to expand his expertise significantly.

Political strategist David Axelrod comments, “Clooney’s global perspective is an asset, but he would need to quickly develop a comprehensive domestic policy platform to be viable in a presidential race.”

Assuming Biden does not heed Clooney’s call to step aside, the next realistic opportunity for a Clooney presidential run would be 2028. This timeline presents both opportunities and challenges. On the positive side, it would give Clooney time to build a more substantial political resume, possibly through a lower-level elected office or high-profile appointment. It would also allow him to distance himself from the current administration if Biden’s popularity continues to wane.

However, the political landscape in 2028 could be radically different. The Democratic Party may be looking for new blood, potentially favoring younger candidates or those with more traditional political backgrounds.

Political analyst Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report observes, “Four years is an eternity in politics. Clooney’s star power might not translate the same way in 2028, especially if the party is seeking to move in a new direction.”

Clooney’s Hollywood connections could prove to be both a blessing and a curse in a potential presidential bid. His ability to attract high-profile endorsements and raise substantial funds would be unparalleled. The entertainment industry’s influence on popular culture could also help shape public perception in his favor.

However, the “Hollywood liberal” label could alienate more conservative voters, particularly in swing states crucial for winning a general election. Clooney would need to carefully navigate his celebrity status, using it to enhance his campaign without allowing it to overshadow his policy positions. Clooney’s challenge would be to leverage his celebrity without being defined by it. He needs to be seen as George Clooney the statesman, not George Clooney the movie star.

One of Clooney’s unique strengths is his international profile. His work with the United Nations and various global causes has given him a level of diplomatic experience unusual for a potential first-time candidate. This could be particularly valuable in rebuilding America’s global relationships after years of turbulence.

Former Ambassador Nicholas Burns comments, “Clooney’s global recognition and his work on international issues could be a significant asset in restoring America’s standing on the world stage.” However, this international focus could also be used to paint him as out of touch with domestic concerns. Balancing global perspectives with a strong focus on kitchen-table issues would be crucial for any Clooney campaign.

If Clooney is serious about a future in politics, his next moves will be critical. He would need to start building a more formal political infrastructure, possibly through a political action committee or increased involvement in specific policy areas. Engaging more directly with grassroots politics, perhaps by campaigning for down-ballot candidates or becoming more involved in state-level Democratic organisations, could help build the political credibility needed for a presidential run. Clooney needs to start laying the groundwork now if he’s eyeing 2028 or beyond. That means building relationships with party officials, expanding his policy expertise, and possibly even considering a run for lower office to gain governing experience.

Whether George Clooney ultimately decides to throw his hat into the presidential ring remains to be seen. What is clear, however, is that his voice in American politics is likely to grow louder in the coming years. As the country faces unprecedented challenges both at home and abroad, the prospect of a Clooney presidency – once a fanciful notion – now seems within the realm of possibility, albeit a distant one.