Media

Is Disney's Bob Iger Ready to Run for President?

Last September, Bob Iger, the retiring CEO of Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS), said he would not run for U.S. president. He did, however, lay out what his goals would be if he had the job. Now freed of this old job, he has a chance to take the nomination, particularly if the Democratic primaries result in a brokered convention.

As this year’s presidential contest began in earnest, Iger said what he thinks America needs. First, he admitted he had thought of seeking the office and decided against it. His hands were still full of running Disney. At the time he commented, “I think that America is gravely in need of optimism, of looking at the future and believing that so many things are going to be all right, or that we as a nation can attack some of the most critical problems of our day.” He ticked off these major problems: the environment, income inequality, health care, the need for affordable housing and the cost of education. These are the major issues the Democratic candidates have debated most visibly as they move toward Super Tuesday.

Iger stepped down as Disney’s chief executive officer unexpectedly. Most people who follow the company thought he might leave at the end of the year. Alternatively, the board might have asked him to extend his contract, as it has done in the past. Instead, the Disney board announced Iger would leave immediately as CEO, replaced by Bob Chapek, former chair of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. Iger will remain as executive chair until the end of the year, although his role in active management appears over.

Last September, Iger stumped around the country promoting his book, “The Ride of a Lifetime,” which became a bestseller. He was already among the most visible and most well-regarded corporate heads in America. He has been, since 2005, the keeper of the Disney flame, overseeing one of the world’s most valuable brands, and one that is known by almost every American and millions of people overseas. While Iger is not a household name, he is a very well-known figure. His association with Disney almost certainly would help him.

The presumption today is that, if no candidate goes to the 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee in July with a majority of delegates, then party leaders will pick the top of the ticket. There is enough animosity among the candidates that these leaders will need to reach outside for a viable and probably politically moderate candidate. The issue of a brokered convention already has emerged publicly as a path to find a nominee if no candidate shows up with the required 1,991 pledged delegates to take the prize. In the past, negotiations about who might lead the ticket began before delegates even made it to the convention.

Will the issues of a brokered convention move to the headlines at all? If the results of Super Tuesday do not put one of the candidates in the clear lead, the subject will come up. If a compromise, outside candidate is needed, Iger has already stated what his platform would look like.