Power Players

Bob Iger: I wanted to run for president but my family shut it down–'they did not like that idea and the rest is history'

The Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Bob Iger
Kimberly White | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

When Bob Iger made the stunning decision to step down as CEO of The Walt Disney Company in February, many speculated about his next steps – including whether he had planned to run for president.

Although he decided against it, Iger seriously considered running for office multiple times, he said on Tuesday's "Coffee with The Greats" podcast.

"I really thought about running for governor and running for senator and running for mayor of New York and ultimately thought about running for president, which is I guess the ultimate sacrifice really," Iger, 69, said. But, "I never worried about that."

When Iger was seeking advice about whether to run for office before the 2016 election, those around him asked "very blunt questions," including, "'Are you willing to give the rest of your life to this cause?' At that point in my life, late 60s, early 70s, it could be the last vital years that I'm around, not to sound fatalistic," he said.

But his answer was "always 'yes,' because I happen believe that the cause, which is our country and its people, is one that you make the ultimate sacrifice for."

However, Iger's family wasn't keen on the idea.

When Iger first discussed running for president with his wife, Willow Bay, she said, "You can run for anything you want, but not with this wife," he said.

Iger sprung the idea on Bay at a restaurant. "I said to her, 'I don't know what got into me. I'm going to run for president.' And she broke out into tears," Iger said. "She basically said it will ruin our lives."

After the 2016 election, Iger brought up the idea of running for president again, "because a lot of people were asking me whether I'd be willing to consider it," he said. "At that point, she said that she married me for better or for worse, and if it's something I wanted to do, she would stand by me, but she was against it."

Iger and Bay's sons, Robert Maxwell, 22, and William, 18, were also against it, he said. "They looked ahead and realized that if I were to do it, it would create a great hardship and it would change their lives forever," Iger recalled. "They did not like that idea, and the rest is history."

Although Iger will not run for president, he would consider a role in President-elect Joe Biden's administration if asked, he told Bloomberg, depending on "what the opportunity is" or "whether I thought it would be something that I would be stimulated by and be good at," Iger said. "Giving back in some fashion – serving our country in some fashion – is certainly something that I would consider seriously."

Iger will remain executive chairman of Disney through 2021.

"I'm, in many respects, a product of the 'American dream,'" Iger said. "Now admittedly, as a white man, I was afforded opportunity that perhaps not everybody is afforded equally. That's one of my dreams would be that opportunities should be forwarded to all."

While he was interested in running as a Democrat, "I was skeptical of the Democratic Party's willingness and ability to support a successful business person," Iger wrote in his book, "The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company."

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