If the mere existence of Fox News scares some liberals, the idea of Roger Ailes, founder and CEO of the right-wing network, running for office against President Barack Obama in 2012 should send them screaming into the streets.

Last week, Politico’s Mike Allen reported friends of Ailes are urging him to jump into the fray and run for President.

“Ailes knows how to frame an issue better than anybody, and that’s what we need now,” Allen quotes one Ailes friend as saying.

But Ailes is “laughing off” the idea and later told Allen he isn’t interested.

“This country needs fair and balanced news more now than ever before, so I’m going to decline a run for the presidency,” Ailes said. “Besides, I can’t take the pay cut.”

Ailes is a long-time political power who made his name reshaping Richard Nixon’s image for television after the then vice-president lost to John F. Kennedy in 1960, due largely to a poor performance in televised debates.

Ailes later served as media adviser to Ronald Reagan.

While the 69-year-old CEO of Fox News has expressed no public interest in running, some say he could present a formidable challenge to Obama.

“I have known Roger Ailes for 29 years,” GOP pollster Frank Luntz tells Allen. “No one knows how to win better than Roger.”

Writes Allen:

Talk of an Ailes run, which informed sources said is based on more than mere speculation, could escalate the White House war with Fox war in wildly unpredictable – and fun – ways.

It was Ailes who recently held a private meeting with top White House adviser David Axelrod to ease tensions. The meeting was not a success.

Shortly after, the White House stepped up its attack on Fox – and Fox has proudly fired back.

Fox executives are relishing the public spat – so much so that virtually every on-air personality talks about it, and Sean Hannity has made it a central part of his show’s promo.

The biggest reason: ratings at Fox are through the roof.

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