Barack Obama vaulted to the presidency just four years after being a state senator in Illinois. Jimmy Carter was an unlikely future president when he was governor of Georgia. Michele Bachmann, who led this year's race at one point, is a representative from Minnesota. And Rick Santorum is a legitimate presidential candidate just a few years after Pennsylvania voters threw him out of his U.S. Senate office.
It all goes to show: Presidential candidates can spring from anywhere. And it got us to thinking: Which Carolinian is most likely to make a serious run for the White House in the future?
No one who lived much of their life in North or South Carolina has ever been president. Andrew Johnson and James K. Polk were born in Raleigh and just outside Charlotte, respectively. But both left when young and mostly lived in Tennessee. Andrew Jackson was born near the N.C.-S.C. border but also mostly lived in Tennessee.
So a true Carolinian as president would be a first. Who might it be? Any suggestion seems far-fetched right now, but so would have Obama before he gave his speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and so would have Sarah Palin, who would have been a heartbeat away.
- N.C. Gov. Bev Perdue? She'll be fortunate if her political career isn't over in 10 months.
- Former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory? Highly unlikely, but if he beats Perdue and serves two terms as governor, who knows?
- S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley? She's unseasoned, to put it mildly, but she has cred with the tea party and has shown she can pull the upset.
- U.S. Sens. Richard Burr or Kay Hagan? We'd give the edge to Burr, if only because he's in the running to be the vice presidential nominee this year.
- U.S. Sens. Jim DeMint or Lindsey Graham? Now we're getting warmer. DeMint was frequently mentioned as a tea party favorite and might have considered a run this year. Graham would have little shot.
- Hard to imagine any of North Carolina's current U.S. House members. Heath Shuler, maybe, if moderation ever comes back into vogue? Patrick McHenry if it doesn't?
- No one in South Carolina's delegation seems likely. Mick Mulvaney? Tim Scott? Joe Wilson? You lie!
- John Edwards? Ha, just seeing if you're paying attention.
- Maybe we need to look more locally. You may laugh at the idea of Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx. But he has made the right moves so far, and will raise his profile when the DNC comes to town. Give him 15-20 years of seasoning, and who knows?
Tell us who you think by voting in the poll at upper right.
-- Taylor Batten