This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal

Add Federal Express founder Fred Smith to the list of prominent Americans who believe a third party could emerge if Democrats and Republicans don't get their acts together.

But don't buy the musings of Washington insiders who cite the popular businessman as a game-changing presidential candidate.

"I have neither the temperament, the inclination nor the family situation that would permit me (to run) for public office," he told the Economic Club of Washington on Thursday. "I admire greatly the people that do."

Afterward, he said in an interview that Democrats and Republicans in dysfunctional Washington risk breeding enough contempt in the country to foster a third party.

"I could happen," he said, adding that a new party would be centrist.

Smith said redistricting and micro-targeting have caused both parties to forsake the political middle. Still, he called himself "cautiously optimistic" that Congress and President Obama will avert the so-called fiscal cliff with a responsible debt deal.

Smith, who founded FedEx in 1971, is chairman, president and chief executive of the $43 billion global transportation business.

He has been courted by presidents for Cabinet posts, and is a smart answer to a question on the lips of savvy political operatives: Who has the money, experience and charisma to mount a presidential bid outside the two major parties?

This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.

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