Donald Trump

Before Trump Shocked the World, a Pro-Wrestler Named Jesse Ventura Did the Same

When Donald Trump stood before his campaign staff and supporters to make his acceptance speech early Wednesday morning, it was a familiar feeling for a veteran political reporter in the Twin Cities.

"I was having flashbacks, there is no question about it," explained Tom Hauser. "Slowly, but surely, I started to have that same feeling I did in 1998 when Jesse Ventura won here and we kept watching the results roll in, and he has a lead and it didn't go away, and we were all going, 'Well, this can't be right!'"

It was right. Ventura, the Reform Party candidate won over two veteran Minnesota politicians from the major political parties.

"But you don't know it until the votes are counted and he's up on stage saying, 'we shocked the world,'" explained Hauser. "You just don't see that coming."

Hauser was at the Republican watch party in 1998 when he had a revelation.

"I'm going, 'there is a book here because this is only going to get crazier!'"

Hauser wrote "Inside the Ropes with Jesse Ventura" chronicling his four years covering Jesse "The Governor" Ventura. 

Hauser points out there is an important parallel between Ventura and Trump that helped put their campaigns over the top in stealth mode.

"The polls rely on drilling down to likely voters, and in a year like '98 or 2016, you have a whole pool of unlikely voters," Hauser said. "But the pollsters don't know where to find them. All of a sudden, they show up and vote."

There are other similarities.

Both tapped into voters' frustrations with the status quo.

"And it builds, and it builds, until that balloon pops and a Jesse Ventura comes out of nowhere," Hauser explained. "Or a Donald Trump comes from out of nowhere."

NBC 5 spoke to Jesse Ventura by phone Thursday morning. When asked if he had any advice for fellow "outsider" President-Elect Trump, who ran as a Republican, Ventura said, "Don't pick the old Republican guard," referring to Cabinet positions. 

Ventura said he was approached by the Libertarian Party to run for president, but declined.

"I couldn't go in as 100-percent," Ventura said.

He equated a run for the highest office to "sentencing yourself to a loss of freedom."

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