Jeb!, schmeb. Here comes Donald Trump!

To this point in his life, Donald Trump’s political legacy has been almost running, but then not. Is that about to change?

Charlie Neibergall/AP/File
Donald Trump waves as he walks off stage after speaking at the Iowa Republican Party's Lincoln Dinner on May 16 in Des Moines, Iowa.

There is a real chance Donald Trump will run for president of the United States. This is far from certain and we could be deluded. But The Washington Post has a big exclusive on this subject out Monday afternoon (so huge it’s tagged “EXCLUSIVE,” a nice Trumpian touch). The Post’s Robert Costa and Matea Gold write that The Donald will release a two-page paper summarizing $9 billion in assets “as part of his likely entry into the race for the Republican presidential nomination.”

Yes, in February we said Mr. Trump would move to Maine and raise beets before actually entering the race. Perhaps we were wrong. We like Maine. We like beets. The beets at Red Sky in Maine’s Southwest Harbor are excellent. We meant the line as no sign of personal disrespect.

That said it’s still possible the whole thing won’t happen. To this point in his life, Donald Trump’s political legacy has been almost running, but then not. It’s like he’s a blond Mario Cuomo. Well, not exactly, but you get the point.

It’s quite possible that Trump could still say he’s almost running, or still thinking about it, or plans to plan a campaign strategy at some point. He’d be making a vague formulation so as to appear as if he’s jogging alongside Jeb! and the other declared candidates. But he wouldn’t trigger the legal interest of the Federal Election Commission and so forth.

Remember, if he actually declares for president, he’d probably have to quit his reality show career for the duration. Irony alert: NBC is already wondering if they’d have to fire Trump from his show, “Celebrity Apprentice.”

And eventually he’d have to reveal a lot about his finances. The WaPo notes that under federal ethics law Trump would eventually have to file a personal financial disclosure form with the FEC. Perhaps he’d argue that the two-page document he’s allegedly set to release Tuesday might qualify, but generally speaking those disclosures have lots of line items, so we’re guessing it wouldn’t fill the legal bill.

Of course, it’s also possible that releasing the financial summary is more important to Trump than running for president. Allegedly it will show that he’s got $9 billion in assets, plus (cough, cough) a few debts here and there. Also, likely it won’t mention any of his firm’s bankruptcies. But it could still cement his reputation as the J. Paul Getty of his age.

“I’m fairly certain @realDonaldTrump is only running for president so he can prove once and for all he is very rich,” tweeted New Republic writer Rebecca Leber after news of the event broke.

But one thing is certain: whether Trump earns a spot in the first GOP debate or not, and he certainly could, because it’s less than two months way, he’s got a big voter problem. Winning the Iowa caucus or any subsequent primary is out. The real issue is whether or not he’ll lose so badly he’ll damage the Trump brand.

“Donald Trump has a -27 net favorability rating . . . Among Republicans. Yea, he’s going far,” tweeted FiveThrityEight polling expert Harry Enten.


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