I don't know, man. Maybe I should start taking Bill Gates at his word.

Over the past several weeks, I had become convinced that the multibillionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist was starting to test the waters for a 2020 presidential run.

I have no inside information. But I watched him over the past few weeks.

And as Gates made popular media appearances--everything from his first-ever spot on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, to the announcement he'll be playing himself on The Big Bang Theory, to the Reddit IAmA session he took part in today--I became more and more confident I could see what he was doing.

I thought: He can literally do anything in the world he wants with his time. Why would he put himself through all this without a purpose?

(If you've ever done a media tour, whatever else it is--it's exhausting.)

And, given his criticisms of President Trump, and the fact that anyone would have to put him on the list of say, 1,000 U.S. citizens with at least a 1 percent shot at being the 45th president of the United States, wouldn't it make sense that he's at least considering running?

For now, at least, I have to admit he seems to be slamming the door shut.

Fittingly, his "no, I'm not running" moment came in response to a Redditor who very much wants to see Gates run:

You've probably heard this a thousand times, but would you consider running for President in 2020?

Yes, you said that you like your current job better, you don't think you'll get elected, and you don't want to go through the awful process of getting nominated. Please hear me out.

You are trying to maximize the good you can do for the world. Your foundation saved, and is saving, countless lives in the poorest places on the planet. This is fantastic work. However while you were saving lives in Africa, things on the home front have deteriorated. America is no longer the beacon of hope it used to be. ...

The States are divided. More divided than they've been any time in the last fifty years. Republicans and Democrats used to be able to work together. ... This country needs a leader that can unite its people, or things will only escalate until blood is spilled. We need someone who can talk to both sides. ...

You have a sterling reputation, something that nearly every politician lacks. You are a moderate, that is what the country needs now. You might be the only moderate actually electable. And you don't care about power, you don't actually want to be President, which makes you a better candidate than anyone who does. ...

Mr. Gates, this country needs someone like you to carry this burden ...

It's a heartfelt entreaty, for sure. No matter how you feel about politics--and I'm well aware there are a lot of people reading this who are perfectly fine with the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue--imagine what it would be like to have people writing long, heartfelt messages, telling you that your country needs you and begging you to run.

Could you cast that aside? Apparently Bill Gates can, because here's his reply:

I won't be running for President because I am super committed to the work Melinda and I are doing at the Foundation and outside the Foundation. I agree it is important to have a President who thinks long term about the US role in the world and the research to solve disease burdens and costs and to tackle climate change and improve education.

I do think people are expecting too much from Government. Yes Government can do better but local groups can do a lot that government can't -- helping out in schools, reaching out to people in poverty. This is also true internationally. I would like to see this civil society sector step up a lot more. Some issues like abortion or even immigration we may never get a consensus on but there are things like better health and better education that we can achieve.

Can we parse this, or imagine circumstances under which Gates might change his mind?

Sure. But at least for the moment, he's addressed the issue.

Whoever the next president of the United States turns out to be, it seems pretty clear it won't be the former CEO of Microsoft.

Published on: Feb 27, 2018
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