On the day in January 2013 that Eric Swalwell was sworn-in as the East Bay’s new congressman from the 15th District, he was interviewed on Politico TV, one of his first appearances as the talking head millions of American now view daily on cable news. The hosts ended their interview with a cheeky question. “I want to be the first person to ask you this — I hope I am — are you ever going to run for president of the United States?” The reporter then chuckled, as someone in the studio cackled faintly. Even Swalwell seemed amused. “I appreciate you asking,” he said. “About 14 months ago, no one ever thought I would run Congress. In fact my own parents thought I was crazy and tried to talk me out of it. I’m just thrilled to be here.”

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