David Goossen, a 48-year-old professional poker dealer from Florida, has launched a write-in campaign for president, and he’s hoping to make a national splash from the Ocean State.
Born in Minnesota, Goossen has spent time living in California, Arizona, Nevada, Arkansas, New Jersey and now Florida. As a professional poker dealer, Goossen has worked in both Atlantic City and Las Vegas. To earn his spot as a dealer in major tournaments, Goossen had to train and then “audition” for his position.
“You can use a good poker analogy in politics,” he said in an interview Monday. “They’re all at the game, they’re all going against each other, but when they’re away from the game, they’re all friends.”
It was a political conversation that he had about a year ago that led Goossen to Rhode Island, where he said the precincts are small enough to possibly win a write-in campaign.
“Just because I’m not on the ballot doesn’t mean I’m not the best candidate,” he said.
Goossen, who has never held elected office, said he doesn’t align himself with any party, and that’s part of what makes him “unique.” It’s his lack of political affiliation and his refusal to accept campaign donations that make him appealing to voters dissatisfied with the current political system, he said.
“There were 450,000 votes cast in Rhode Island in 2008,” said Goossen, explaining that an additional 350,000 were eligible to vote but did not. According to Chris Barnett, communications director for the Secretary of State’s office, 475,428 voters cast ballots in 2008, out of roughly 700,000 registered voters.
Goossen said about 40 percent of people nationwide do not vote because they’re dissatisfied with the system, the candidates or feel their votes do not matter.
“When I run into that 40 percent,” he said, “I tell them, ‘You’re my voter.’ Do you realize if I got 50 percent of the 40 percent of the people in this country that didn’t vote, I’d be the next president of the United States?”
Goossen has been in Rhode Island since Sept. 6, driving around a van that bears his name and his intention to vie for the presidency via write-in votes. He is funding his campaign himself, and plans to spend $3,000.
Goossen said he visits a new place each day, setting up outside supermarkets and Wal-Marts and handing out business cards to passersby.
“I hand out 300 to 500 cards a day,” he said. Goossen said about 10 people per day reject his card.
Goossen said he gives people his “elevator pitch,” highlighting bullet points on his business cards that simply say “re-apply for government programs” and “fair tax.”
Goossen is a proponent of the “Fair Tax,” a tax reform policy that replaces all current taxes with one, broad consumption tax on retail sales. Goossen believes this tax should be set at 18 percent.
“The economic boom in this country would be phenomenal,” said Goossen. “How do I know this? Because of the tax rate.”
Goossen produced a copy of the current tax rates and U.S. Constitution, both of which he said he carries around with him in his pocket.
Currently the corporate tax rate is 39 percent, a rate that if cut by 20 percent, would drastically decrease the price of goods and leave consumers with more spending money, said Goossen.
“That’s how you fix the economy,” he said. “It’s all about taxes.”
His platform also includes the removal of fraud and waste from federal spending by having people re-apply for federal assistance programming they’re currently on. By establishing new criteria and having people re-apply for things like social security, food stamps or welfare, said Goossen, government waste and fraud will be drastically decreased.
Simple criteria like asking people for proof of citizenship and how long they’ve paid into the system would crack down on those who are actually ineligible for the assistance, he said.
“Just three or four criteria like that for eligibility would scare people that don’t deserve it,” he said.
The new criteria would also aim to guide people who can work to apply for part-time jobs that would cover the cost of the assistance in lieu of government handouts. Goossen said he goes onto the craigslist website daily and sees that there are over 500 jobs available in Rhode Island.
“Once someone gives you something…you have to ask yourself, do I need that? It’s not about do I need that, why would I not want it, they’re giving it to me… there’s a mentality that goes with the benefit.”
Goossen said he’s all about telling the truth because he has nothing to lose.
“My campaign slogan is ‘Truth in Solutions,’” he said. “That means I’m going to give you the truth about politics – you may not like it, but it’s the truth – then I’m going to give you the solution.”
Unlike an endorsed candidate, Goossen doesn’t have allegiance to anyone.
“I can afford to tell you the truth because I’m only looking at a small portion of the votes,” he said.
Goossen believes that if he wins or has a big enough showing in just one state, the masses of the nation will feel that he has enough following to win the whole country.
“The third party doesn’t campaign correctly,” said Goossen, who suggested that if Ross Perot campaigned and won in just two states, he could have subsequently taken the Presidency.
“That’s really all politics comes down to: can you win?”
But Goossen doesn’t fully expect to win.
“I’m making a statement that I can go into the political arena … and I can still make enough contact with the voter that they acknowledge that my platform is strong enough that they’re willing to write me in,” he said.
Goossen is hopeful he can get about 20,000 votes in November.
“What I want to happen November 6 is this: I want the national media to say, why did they have 10,000 write-ins in Rhode Island?” he said.
And with that national attention, “I ask them why don’t we have a presidential primary?” he said.
Goossen said people should be better informed about the other candidates who will join the Democratic and Republican nominees on the ballot.
“They don’t even know there’s going to be five other parties on the ballot come November 6,” said Goossen. “The media does not tell you about the other parties.”
Until Nov. 6, Goossen plans to continue to reach out to voters and spread the word of his candidacy. So far, the reception has been positive, he said.
Every once in a while, people tell Goossen that he’s crazy, but mostly people take his card and hear him out.
“I learned the hard way about that: you can’t say you’re running for president,” he said. Instead, he simply says he’s running for office and then hands them a card that says “Write-in David Goossen, President of the United States.” By approaching it that way, it becomes more about his platforms and less about the fact that he’s an unknown candidate attempting to run for Commander in Chief.
Goossen acknowledges he’s a bit of a novelty but plans to use that to his advantage. His goal is to earn 20,000 votes through his write-in campaign.
But he adds, “I have no visions of grandeur here.”