Supporting a particular cause to the point of losing the Presidency

If you were a presidential candidate, are there any particular issues or viewpoints that you would be willing to fight for, even if you knew that it would cost you the presidential election and hand the Presidency to your opponent?

Or does it make no sense to do so, since by doing so you would let your opponent have the presidential power to advance his agenda which would be contrary to yours?
(For instance, let’s say you support gun control and your opponent opposes gun control. If you support gun control, you will lose the election, and then your opponent will simply be elected and then advance his anti-gun-control agenda. So from a practical perspective, did it make any practical sense for you to publicly support gun control?)

I wouldn’t want to win the presidency if I had to pretend to be against gay marriage, doing something about climate change, or fighting tort reform. I’d be okay keeping a low profile about some things I supported if it would help me win, but I would hope I wouldn’t lie about what I intended to do.

I’d be a transactional politician, and modifying a few positions wouldn’t bother me. Once in power though, I could imagine myself making decisions that reduced my popularity. Kennedy’s take was that he would invest his approval ratings over his Presidency, whittling them down over time as he made tough decisions. At least according to McNamara.

The question is which big issues I’d choose to take a principled stand on, if I thought I was leading by a decent margin. Which issues would make up my mandate?

That said, if I had to compromise on everything, I wouldn’t bother running. The trappings of power don’t look that great to me.

The purpose of a candidate is to be elected. The purpose of an officeholder is to govern.

“The right thing” is different in each position because the goals are different.

The way to achieve consistency between the two is to try to control the pre-election narrative so you emphasize your positions and proposals that are both A) consistent with your inner beliefs and B) popular.

Your goal for those things that are both A and not-B is to avoid the topic altogether. Do everything possible to change the subject, distract, etc. If you do get elected then either your priorities shift and you work to implement that unpopular thing. Or you wait for a crisis that’s on-topic enough that it moves the consensus partly your way and then you put your shoulder into it to finish the job.

“Never let a crisis go to waste.” has been an axiom of governance since the Dark Ages.