RED LODGE — Among the 40+ candidates who have filed to run for president of the United States, two are from Montana: Walter Clapp of Red Lodge and Corey Stapleton of Billings.
And while the 2024 election is more than a year away, both Republican candidates are hitting the campaign trail.
“I’m Walter Clapp, and I’m here to bullwhip the bull ****,” said Clapp in his campaign video.
“Hi, I'm Corey Stapleton. I’d like to change the way we think about American politics,” said Stapleton, former Montana Secretary of State, in his campaign video.
Stapleton is no stranger to the Montana political scene, though he's mostly unknown on the national stage. He was first elected to the Montana state senate in 2000 and then served as Montana's secretary of state. Now he’s a financial advisor in Billings, and the lead musician in his Corey Stapleton and the Pretty Pirates band.
Now Stapleton is stumping in early primary states looking to secure super-PAC support.
“I’m currently in New Hampshire, an early primary state. I've spent two trips to Iowa. I’ve spent a dozen years in the state capitol. I've spent nearly a dozen years in uniform as a United States naval officer, so I've been serving my state and nation since I was a teenager,” says Stapleton.
Clapp is a 35-year-old political unknown and an attorney in Red Lodge. With a degree from Georgetown and age on his side, he says he’s ready to bullwhip the biggest issues facing our nation.
“I’m here to bullwhip the FDA, I’m here to bullwhip Trump's border wall, I’m here to bullwhip red dye number 40,” says Clapp in his campaign video. “In November I turned 35. I picked up my handy constitution here and realized that I was eligible. I'm not going to go through Trump v. Biden again and watch these two 80-year-olds that don’t know anything about technology or AI try to confront what is one of the biggest challenges of our day."
Both Clapp and Stapleton are pursuing the American dream. Stapleton aims to bring the country together and pay it forward by paying off national debt, and he says his lyrics don’t hurt.
"I think it's a way to connect. You know all of the great presidents were able to connect with people. Even our previous president with Twitter, right. JFK with TV, but you know nobody has really ever spoken with music. I just thought there’s such an opportunity because the whole world speaks different languages, but we sing only one,” says Stapleton.
“...and dream to be the kind of country our people need,” he sang.
For Clapp, that dream looks like more representation.
“My big thing is drastically increasing the size of the House of Representatives. You have eight times worse representation than a citizen of the United Kingdom and we fought a revolutionary war on the idea of representation,” says Clapp. “We have approx 200 million more voters today than in 1929, and we still have the same number of representatives.”
The numbers game is not lost on these two Republican presidential hopefuls. They know their campaign war chest pales in comparison to some candidates who have raised millions, but both say they’re in it to win it.
"If someone believes in you," said Stapleton, "it only takes one billionaire to start a Super PAC."