Former President Donald Trump reportedly plans to run for the White House even if he doesn’t capture the GOP nomination, according to a report published Tuesday.
Semafor, a new political news outlet, reports that Republicans who have been wondering for the past couple of years what might happen if Trump wins the nomination now have something else to consider “as he looks more vulnerable: What happens if he loses?”
As his grip on the GOP continues to loosen, the report says, there are rising concerns that he could run as a third-party or independent, or otherwise move to sabotage the eventual party nominee, to the detriment of Republican chances to recapture the White House in 2024.
“The threat is simple: Unless the rest of the party goes along with him, he will burn the whole house down by leading ‘his people’ out of the GOP,” one of Trump’s former attorney generals, William Barr, warned in a New York Post op-ed on Tuesday.
But former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was asked by ABC News’ Jonathan Karl on Sunday about GOP concerns that Trump “marches across the street and declares he’s an independent candidate” if he doesn’t win the nomination, to which Ryan predicted Trump “would not want to be blamed” for handing Democrats a win.
Semafor noted further:
It’s not an idea that’s easy to dismiss. Trump first explored a run for president as a Reform Party candidate in 2000, and has teased a return to his independent roots when he feels threatened by Republican leaders. During the 2016 cycle, he repeatedly refused to rule out a run outside the GOP if he lost the primaries, even saying it gave him “a lot of leverage” in his first debate.
“In 2015, Donald wasn’t initially being taken seriously by the GOP as a potential candidate,” Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney and now a critic, told Semafor. “His threat to run as a third party candidate was to ensure people knew of his intent and that he would have no problem with destroying the party if they stood in his way.”
Semafor went on to report that two sources close to the 45th president dismissed the idea that he would run third-party or independent, noting that “one person in Trump world said there was ‘quite literally nothing to’ the claim while a source close to the former president’s campaign called it ‘an absurd idea.'”
However, a former Trump administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity told the outlet: “I don’t see that happening right now. But Trump was so successful in part because he ran against the elite and out of touch political establishment on both sides, so I’d say it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility.”