As such, Zarghami has implicitly denied that he wants to run in the upcoming presidential elections. Indeed, in an interview with Tasnim News Oct. 4, Zarghami said, “For now, I have no plans to become a candidate in the 2017 presidential elections and instead believe that my duty — at this point in time — is to support and strengthen the revolutionary forces.”
However, it is common practice in Iranian politics for politicians not to disclose their true intentions about whether to run in elections until the very last moment. As such, he has in recent months been consistently referred to in Iranian media as a possible Principlist candidate.
On Sept. 13, Principlist Nasim News Agency published a list of eight possible candidates for the May 2017 vote, referring to Zarghami as a reasonably successful manager and called him “fire under the ashes” in the conservatives’ fight against Rouhani. On Nov. 11, Principlist member of parliament Ahmad Poor Mokhtar mentioned Zarghami as a potential Principlist candidate in an interview with the website Entekhab. On Aug. 2, another Principlist outlet, Tabnak, also mentioned Zarghami as a potential candidate, though it added that it would be impossible for him to succeed.
Although Zarghami has denied the possibility of his own candidacy, he has behaved in a way that can be interpreted as preparing for the elections. In September, this led Rouhani’s cultural adviser, Hesamodin Ashna, to write on Twitter, “A friendly piece of advice for Mr. Zarghami: It is better for you to wait another four years — it won’t be too late.”
Active on Instagram and often publishing political posts, Zarghami reminded Rouhani Dec. 24 that while the incumbent had it easy in the 2013 presidential elections, as he was the attacker, it is going to be much harder for him this time around since he is now the defender of his position.