Donald Trump’s presidential run has already caused a stir, but now he threatens to go Ross Perot on everyone if he doesn’t win the Republican nomination and run on a third-party ticket. (Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons photo)
Donald Trump just wants to be treated fairly by the Republican party, but if that’s not the case, he’s promised that there will be consequences.
Though Trump’s candidacy has already caused quite a stir, he could further frustrate the Republicans by deciding to run for president on a third-party ticket. If he doesn’t win the party nomination, the billionaire businessman and blowhard has said he’s not ruled out going Ross Perot on everyone.
On the belief that Perot’s 1992 run stole away votes from incumbent George H. W. Bush and handed Bill Clinton the White House, for Republicans the term “third-party” has become something of an unwelcome flashback. Because of that decision, Perot was reviled by the party establishment at the time and still is, for supposedly helping to give away the election.
But could the sudden star of the Republican field face a similar fate?
Though Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus has asked that every GOP candidate pledge to forgo a third-party run, Trump has refused to close that unlikely route to the White House. The billionaire businessman has said that if he doesn’t win the Republican nomination he will explore the possibility of continuing his controversial candidacy under a different party banner.
In staying with the same rebellious image Trump has created for his presidential run, he told ABC’s “This Week” that he would have “no interest” in running as a third-party candidate, but followed that comment by adding, “If I’m not treated fairly by the Republican party, I very well might consider that.”
Trump did not define nor expand upon what will entail that fair treatment. With credit due to his bizarre attacking tactics, he is leading the field in national party polls. The first party debate is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 6, and all political observers are no doubt curious if Trump will continue course with his cringe-worthy campaign style.
The presidential candidate previously courted controversy when he said that Mexican immigrants are criminals and rapists, and then took fire from his own party after he doubted the dean of the Senate John McCain’s credentials as a war hero. But even with these incendiary missives, Trump continues to enjoy strong support. This is likely because many voters want to support a winner in 2016, as the Republicans so desperately want to win back the White House.
One thing that could change that support, however, is Trump’s refusal to play nice with the national party. GOP officials don’t want anything that could disrupt their chances in the general election in 2016. Though his in-your-face approach hasn’t cost Trump much support and doesn’t seem to negatively have affected his popularity yet, a third-party run could prove very unpopular with many Republican voters.
Running as an independent in 1992, Perot won almost 19 percent of the national vote. Because he ran to the right of Clinton, Perot is blamed for swaying the election to the challenger. But that could also just be a Republican excuse for losing the election.
It’s possible Bush was defeated independent of Perot, simply because he was a mediocre candidate who didn’t inspire Americans to believe he deserved four more years in office.
Coincidentally, Trump is also a businessman who, like Perot, is gaining support by attacking the party establishment. But should Trump not win the Republican nomination, then decide to run on a third-party ticket and the Democrats ultimately win the election, hopefully the GOP won’t use that same tired 1992 excuse to explain why they lost. If they are defeated in 2o16, it’s possible the reason was they have lost touch with the American people.
And at that point, the Republican party would really need to do some introspection or start to understand that maybe they keep losing the White House because their outdated policies are to blame.
Noah Zuss is a reporter for TheBlot Magazine.