Donald Trump Threatens To Run As An Independent

As if his embrace of birtherism weren’t enough to keep him in the press, Donald Trump now says he’d probably run as an independent if the GOP doesn’t nominate him:

Donald Trump will “probably” run as an independent candidate for U.S. President in 2012 if he does not receive the Republican party’s nomination, he told the Wall Street Journal in a video interview on Monday.

“I hate what’s happening to the country,” said Mr. Trump, a real estate tycoon and host of the NBC show “Celebrity Apprentice.” He will not formally make a decision until June, however, when this season of his television show is over. “I can’t run during the airing of that show,” Mr. Trump said, “I’m not allowed to.” But he said he would make an announcement “by June” and his candidacy looks increasingly likely.

Mr. Trump’s candidacy would complicate matters for the GOP as it looks to front someone who can unite the fractious party and mount a serious challenge to President Obama’s reelection bid. A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll recently found Mr. Trump tied for second place with former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee among likely voters in a GOP primary. Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who moved a step closer to formally declaring his own candidacy Monday, is still the frontrunner, though not by a wide margin.

“I think the Republicans are very concerned that I [may] run as an independent,” Mr. Trump said. His support is highest among the conservative wing of the party, not least because he is among the so-called “birthers” who doubt that President Obama in fact was born in the U.S. “It’s a very important issue,” Mr. Trump said of demanding that President Obama show his birth certificate, which has separately been reviewed by the media and deemed legitimate. “I’m not ashamed of having raised that issue.”

“I am very conservative,” said Mr. Trump. “The concern is if I don’t win [the GOP primary] will I run as an independent, and I think the answer is probably yes.” Mr. Trump said he thought he “could possibly win as an independent,” adding, “I’m not doing it for any other reason. I like winning.”

And just in case you thought that Trump’s obsession with the place of Barack Obama’s birth was the only crazy idea he had, check this out:

As for foreign policy, Mr. Trump said he is “only interested in Libya if we take the oil,” and that if he were President, “I would not leave Iraq and let Iran take over the oil.” He remains sharply critical of the Chinese, asserting that as President, “I would tell China that you’re either going to shape up, or I’m going to tax you at 25% for all the products you send into this country.”

Trump has essentially said the same thing about Iraqi oil. So, basically, a President Trump would seize Middle Eastern oil and start a trade war with China. Yea, that’s gonna work.

I’m still of the opinion that we’re all being played with here and that Trump has no real intention of running for President (or, if he does, of doing much more than showing up at debates for awhile), but Mike Huckabee seems to disagree:

Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump had a one-on-one meeting last week, a sit-down that left the former Arkansas governor with the impression that the developer is indeed going to run for president.

The get-together came as Huckabee, multiple sources said, has been quietly meeting with donors in New York for the past month as he himself weighs a run.

The meeting, which Huckabee mentioned in passing on Fox News on Monday, was in New York City during a weekend when the 2008 Iowa caucuses winner was in town taping his Fox TV show.

It’s unclear what the two discussed, but sources familiar with the get-together suggested the meeting was part of Huckabee’s recent listening tour with donors, since Trump would be a useful supporter if he himself doesn’t run for president, as he’s flirting with doing right now. However, Trump has made increasingly clear to people around him that he’s seriously weighing getting in — and Huckabee clearly walked away with the same impression.

“I believe that if he gets in the race he is going to be formidable because everybody knows ‘The Donald’ and money will be no object for him… and I think he’s going to get in it,” Huckabee told Barbara Walters for her new SiriusXM radio show, according to excerpts posted on The Page. “I seriously believe he’s going to jump in.”

Of course, Trump could be doing the snake oil routine on Huckabee too.

As for Trump’s threat to run as an independent, if he did it would clearly benefit President Obama. While I doubt that Trump would garner anything close to the votes that Ross Perot got in 1992 or 1996, he’d likely pull enough votes away from the GOP in close states to hand the election to Obama on a silver platter.


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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Neil Hudelson says:

    Republicans, meet your George Wallace.

  2. Kylopod says:

    >While I doubt that Trump would garner anything close to the votes that Ross Perot got in 1992 or 1996, he’d likely pull enough votes away from the GOP in close states to hand the election to Obama on a silver platter.

    I hope you aren’t perpetuating the myth that Perot handed Clinton the ’92 election. This has been debunked many times:

  3. DC Loser says:

    A part of me want to believe that the Donald is doing this to screw the GOP. But I can’t be sure of that.

  4. I think that he could get solid single digits numbers (i.e., more than 5%) based on name recognition/protest votes (especially depending on whom the GOP nominates).

    For example: if the GOP nominates Romney, Trump could do quite well with disaffected Tea Party voters.

  5. Tlaloc says:

    Of course, Trump could be doing the snake oil routine on Huckabee too.

    It would be fun to be a fly on that wall, watching the two con men try to outdo each other.

  6. ralph waldo emerson says: