On the heels of an unsuccessful bid to become mayor of Chicago, businessman Willie Wilson announced Monday he is running for president of the United States.
From a podium at the Chicago Baptist Institute, where he serves as chair, Wilson said that as president he would eliminate student debt, scale back America’s foreign aid and reduce the country’s unsustainable role of policing the world in order to focus on domestic problems.
“I am running to put America first,” he said. “I believe we can recover at least $5.5 billion from foreign aid and give a portion of it to rebuilding Ferguson and Baltimore instead of Baghdad.”
About 30 supporters gathered at the Baptist Institute, 5120 S. King Dr., to wave American flags and cheer as Wilson, 66, spoke before a gaggle of media.
Wilson, who barely scraped 10 percent of the vote in the first round of Chicago’s mayoral election in Februrary, hopes to do better in Iowa. He is headed to the Hawkeye state this week to meet with elected officials and students in Davenport, Waterloo, Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, according to his campaign manager, Gregory Livingston.
As of Monday, Wilson’s campaign coffers consisted of “his own pockets,” said Livingston. “But we can’t run a national campaign off his pockets,” said Livingston, noting that several fundraisers are being planned in his quest for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.
Wilson became a millionaire from owning and operating several McDonald’s restaurants and a medical supply company. He donated $1 million of his own money to his unsuccessful mayoral campaign.
Livingston said Wilson decided to run for president about a month ago.
Wilson came in third in Chicago’s mayoral race, garnering more than 50,000 votes before endorsing fellow Democrat Jesus “Chuy” Garcia in a runoff election against Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Willie Wilson’s campaign prepared announcements to hand out before he declared his presidential candidacy on Monday. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times