Donald Trump says he really might run for president this time. He set off a flurry of mixed political emotions amongst Republicans on Wednesday when he told the Washington Post that he is “more serious” than ever about a bid for the White House in 2016.
The wispy-coiffed billionaire told the Post’s Robert Costa that he’s hiring political staff in key states. He met with Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus on Monday and indicated he was interested in possibly jumping in the race.
“I’m not doing this for enjoyment. I’m doing this because the country is in serious trouble,” said Trump.
Post reporter Costa probably feels he has to play this story straight. He’s a young and fast-rising journalist known for good connections with the political right – he used to work for the conservative National Review.
But as a columnist with slightly looser rules of engagement, we’ll say the obvious, which is that Trump will move to Maine and raise beets before he runs for president. It’s not happening, no way, no chance, let’s be real.
He’s used the same “more serious than ever” line in his previous noncampaigns. Time Magazine’s Michael Scherer has a good roundup of those un-runs, which stretch back across the decades.
“The echoes of past feints haunt Trump’s latest tease like a poker tell,” writes Scherer.
We’d go further, and say that it’s possible this is the straw that jumps the shark’s back. Trump may have threatened to run for president one too many times. It’s starting to make him look less than “huge," which is his own preferred word for his popularity. It might even (gasp) begin to affect his ability to get invitations to speak at future GOP events.
Why? Because Republicans want to win the White House and party elders see Trump as a self-promoter who’s getting in their way.
He brings up the old trope of whether President Obama is actually an American. He’s happy to riff on how awful past GOP nominees were. You never know what he’ll say. RNC chief Priebus has done his best to tone down the more free-wheeling aspects of 2012’s wide-open party debates. Candidate Trump could undo that with a few sentences.
Polls show that many GOP voters now dislike Trump, as well. In the first-in-the-nation caucus state of Iowa, 26 percent of Republicans have a favorable opinion of Trump, and 68 percent have a non-favorable opinion. In New Hampshire, first-in-the-nation primary state, the spread is even worse, at 19 percent favorable and 69 percent unfavorable.
Those numbers aren’t just what the pros call “underwater." They’re in a submersible in the Marianas Trench.
“That’s reason enough to doubt his running,” writes Allahpundit today in the right-leaning Hot Air.
So why is Trump even talking about another presidential bid? We’d guess it’s all part of the pump-up for his show, “Celebrity Apprentice."
The Trump-helmed workplace competition show was on break for a while, in case you didn’t notice. A two-year break. A new season finally began this January, and as Entertainment Weekly notes, it’s been “surprisingly strong” in the ratings.
What better way for the host of this success to call attention to himself – and perhaps negotiate a few more bucks out of NBC – then to threaten to chuck the whole thing in an effort to run for the post of what used be called the leader of the free world?