Donald Trump claims he isn’t interested in running as a spoiler third-party candidate in 2016 if he fails to win the GOP nomination.Oh, I see -- we know Trump is willing to be a third-party candidate based on that time he chose not to try to be one. Plus, he was a Democrat while Bush was serving two terms! The fiendish saboteur!
But he said much the same thing in 1999, until he rushed to Ross Perot’s rump Reform party and announced he would run as a third-party candidate. Trump, whose middle name should be “Mercurial,” later dropped out, suddenly becoming a Democrat out of antipathy to George W. Bush. (Trump remained a Democrat until well into Barack Obama’s first year as president in 2009.)
Fund also think Trump is unwilling to attack Hillary Clinton:
But curiously, Trump has been very sparing in his criticism of Hillary Clinton. His most pointed jab came only this week after Clinton attacked his immigration comments. Trump responded the next day by calling her “the worst secretary of state in the history of our nation. Why would she be a good president? I think she would be a terrible president.”Um, he's taken other jabs at her. He said electing her would raise the crime rate:
“Hillary would let everybody in: killers, criminals, drug-dealers -- everybody. If you listen to Hillary, everybody is going to be flowing through the nation. They are sort of now anyway,” he said to NBC News’ Katy Tur.And there was that Twitter message he retweeted, then deleted:
But hey, Republicans, keep telling yourselves to cower in fear of him because he won't say a mean word about Hillary.
Fund also warns that Trump knows his electoral history:
... in 1992 ... another eccentric billionaire, Ross Perot, who like Trump had issues with the Bush family and the GOP establishment, stayed in the race as a self-financed third-party candidate and was included in the presidential debates.Of course, as Steve Kornacki pointed out last night on Twitter, Perot didn't cost Bush the election, even though lots of people think he did. I've Storified Kornacki's 21-tweet debunking of this myth, but suffice to say that Perot appealed to moderate Democrats as well as Republicans, as revealed by polls at various points in the race, and when he temporarily dropped out of the race, his vote was evenly distributed between Bush and Clinton -- and Clinton remained in the lead in two-candidate polls.
Trump is well aware of the parallel. He told Byron York of the Washington Examiner this week, “I think every single vote that went to Ross Perot came from [George H. W.] Bush. Virtually every one of his 19 percentage points came from the Republicans. If Ross Perot didn’t run, you have never heard of Bill Clinton.”
Would the same thing happen in a race with Trump as the third-party candidate? Probably not -- but Perot was actually far less clownish in that '92 race than Trump is now. He was disciplined enough to get himself on state ballots nationwide. He was harder to turn into a dismissible buffoon.
If Republicans don't have the guts to try to marginalize Trump and turn him into a national laughingstock, they're cowards. But it looks as if they are cowards. They're letting fear of Trump paralyze them. Which is why I think Jeb Bush is going to pick a running mate who's even more wingnutty than Sarah Palin, in a desperate effort to keep the base from straying. The GOP is terrified.