Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore claimed before the 2016 election that Donald Trump never wanted to be president.
According to Moore, Trump was actually unhappy with his deal as host and star of his NBC reality series The Apprentice, and it was about money.
To get the attention he felt he deserved. He decided to run for president.
It was such a large field in fact that the early debates couldn’t include all of them. It is largely forgotten now, but Scott Walker, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, and George Pataki all withdrew, even before the primary season. That still left a number of high-profile candidates such as Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, and Ted Cruz to duke it out along with Trump.
Trump won the nomination through a divide-and-conquer strategy and it paid off.
After he secured the nomination, in August 2016, Moore simply became the first to suggest that Trump was “self-sabotaging” his campaign as he never really wanted the job. That same month, Ohio Governor John Kasich said Trump approached him and asked if he’d consider being the vice president.
More importantly, according to Kasich, he could have been a forceful VP – at least as powerful as Dick Cheney and perhaps even more so. As vice president, he would have been put in charge of all domestic and foreign policy, while Trump would be in charge of “making American great again.”
Kasich turned it down, stating he would have made “the worst vice president in the world,” and was happy to do the “second best job in the country. You know … governor of Ohio.”
Self-Sabotaging in 2020?
There was also some speculation that Trump was self-sabotaging again in 2020 with his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. Trump even went on to contract Covid, and because he was contagious he couldn’t travel or hold rallies for more than a week during critical campaign crunch time.
Trump then lost the election to Joe Biden. He took the loss hard, seeking every possible way possible – legal or otherwise – to remain in the White House.
Some have speculated it wasn’t ever about the job. Trump just didn’t want to appear to be a loser – something that he simply can’t accept.
Donald Trump: Is he Self-Sabotaging Now?
As he embarks on an effort to return to the Oval Office, the question again is whether his heart is really into it. As Simon Tisdall, foreign affairs commentator and U.S. editor for The Guardian, wrote last month, “It’s not even certain that Trump really wants the gig. No former president has recaptured the White House for a second, non-consecutive term since the Democrat Grover Cleveland in 1893. It would take some doing. Is his heart really in it?
“Fact is, Trump, now 76, is work-shy and lazy,” Tisdall added. “As president he didn’t pay attention to briefings or do his homework. He preferred to play golf. His constant skiving, off-the-cuff decision-making and Oval office tantrums proved he wasn’t fit for the job.”
Trump’s appeal is fading and with it so may his zeal for another race.
In 2016, Trump’s nomination was a fluke, while in 2020 no one even challenged him. In 2024, it is likely to be different. It will be a hard-fought battle that will require long bus rides, late nights, and serious work.
He may still be the man to beat should Trump go forward with his bid for the White House, but unless a dozen or more candidates line up, the divide-and-conquer play won’t work again. Trump is actually smart enough to know this.
If it looks like it won’t be easy, Trump will give up.
A question is often asked, why would anyone really want to be president? Trump learned the hard way; it is often a thankless job. He probably never really wanted it, but his ego couldn’t handle being a loser – especially once he was in the Oval Office and it became about his legacy. As reality sets in, Trump will continue to self-sabotage, and that is what will keep him from returning to the Oval Office.
Author Experience and Expertise: A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.