Walnut Creek resident Zachary Larkin has announced his candidacy for president of the United States.
The 13-year-old plans to run when he's 37 and insists it's no joke. This young Democrat has started a blog, has a Web site and even made the theme of his bar mitzvah last Saturday "Campaign 2032." He walked in to the strains of "Hail to the Chief."
So why does a Walnut Creek Intermediate School student want to lead the free world? Quite simply, he wants to make this country and the world a better place. Cliche? Perhaps. But from a 13-year-old, it is simply honest.
"I want to inspire people," he said. "And I want to set a clear path for my life."
He scoffs at the suggestion that because of his age or because it's almost 21/2 decades until 2032 that he's not serious. He wants to debunk the notion that an adolescent — or child, for that matter — can't have valid ideas or help create change.
"I am running as the new generation, and we have to step up," he said. "I have seen ageism. People think we are attached to our iPods or can't get off our cell phones. "... I want to shatter this stereotype."
His heroes include Mahatma Gandhi, John F. Kennedy, William Shakespeare, Steven Spielberg and, "of course, Barack Obama." Larkin spends his time writing speeches, which he posts on his blog, which is the main way he reaches out to future constituents.
This is not a candidate without ideas or opinions. Larkin is opposed to the Iraq war and believes in equal rights, which means he is not opposed to same-sex marriages. All energy sources, including solar and wind, need to be utilized to help curb increased energy costs, he said. He writes about his policies and platforms on his blog at www.democrats.org/page/community/tag/Larkin+2032.
In 2000, after the presidential election, Larkin began thinking of running for president. After President Bush won again in 2004, and Larkin lost his own bid for student body president at Murwood Elementary, he became disenchanted with the process. But soon he realized he wanted to be someone of action, not a complainer.
Larkin started newspapers at his schools in fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh grades. Many of his penned opinion stories focused on politics, but he realized he wanted to reach more people. So this summer he started a blog, where he talks about his ideas and positions. And he has a Web site, which he hopes to upgrade soon — pending his parents' approval.
Larkin has aspirations to go to college; his top choices are UC Berkeley and UCLA. He plans to run for public office as soon as he is old enough. What office, exactly, he hasn't decided, but it should put him on a path to the presidency, he said.
Perhaps different from most 13-year-olds, Larkin is dialed in to everything about the 2008 presidential election. On a map on the wall in his room, Larkin tracks where candidates are stumping.
So where does an eighth grader, who won't be eligible to vote for five years, get this dream, this drive? His mother, Shelly Larkin, isn't quite sure. But her son has always been a student of history with an innate passion for politics, she said.
"We are not so politically active, (but) we talk a lot about social issues at dinner," Shelly Larkin said. "He is really fascinated with the process. Zach marches to his own drum and I take his interest completely seriously."
Zach Larkin is not the only young candidate making a run for the White House in 2032. There are at least four other known challengers from throughout the United States. Some have a bit of celebrity already; take Republican challenger Noah McCullough, 12, from Colorado, a published author who has appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and "The Today Show."
Larkin says McCullough is exactly the kind of opponent he would like — someone with whom he fundamentally disagrees. One of Larkin's goals as president, though, is to strive for bipartisanship, citing that in order to "achieve unity, we must unite."
His friends say Larkin is dedicated to politics, constantly checking his cell phone for political developments. Jonathan Hawthorne, his closest friend and "campaign manager," said Zach sends him copies of his speeches and updates him on the latest political news. Hawthorne is committed to helping Zach, his best friend since sixth grade.
"We want it to be a snowball effect "... that it will get bigger and bigger until 2032," he said.