Donald Trump Will Run as a Third-Party Candidate? Here’s Why It Could Happen: As the 2024 Republican Presidential Primary inches nearer, the GOP field is already crowded.
Former President Donald J. Trump, Mike Pompeo, Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, Larry Hogan, possibly former Vice-President Mike Pence, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis are all slated to either be entering or interested in entering the race. Despite all these people looking to get involved, however, it is obvious that Trump and DeSantis are the two leading contenders for the GOP nomination.
GOP Primary Battle ’24: Trump vs. DeSantis
Polls conducted over the last year have proven this.
While the leading spot in these polls changes often between Donald Trump and DeSantis, the fact of the matter is that Trump’s chances for winning are not as definitive as the forty-fifth president would like.
Yes, Trump was the last Republican president. Although, he was a different sort of Republican and was viewed by many even within his own party as an unreliable leader with a mixed record.
There are justifiable concerns within the GOP that placing Trump as the GOP nominee in 2024 might be more damaging than it’s worth.
With Ron DeSantis, many Republican voters and insiders believe that they are getting a better pick.
DeSantis has been dubbed as Trump without the baggage; “MAGA 2.0.” He does everything that the Republican voters liked about what Trump did when in office, but DeSantis is more disciplined and less divisive about it.
In fact, looking at DeSantis’ impressive track record as Florida governor, it is accurate to say that DeSantis, if he plays his political cards right over the next few months, might end up being more popular than even Trump among the Republican voters.
A Meaningless Pledge
Of course, Donald Trump is not out yet—not by a long shot.
He has a solid base of voters who do not necessarily fit in the typical Republican voting bloc. These voters, mainly white, rural, working-class folks (many of them were proud union Democratic Party voters before Trump came along in 2016), will stay with Trump no matter what he does or says.
This is likely why the RNC Chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, recently told the press that anyone intending to run in the GOP primary will have to first sign a pledge that they would not run as a third-party candidate, should they lose the primary.
That statement was not directed at Ron DeSantis or any of the other less popular candidates. It was aimed squarely at Donald Trump whose unpredictability is legendary. This is what the GOP tried to accomplish in 2016, when the party’s leadership had exhausted all possible ways to contain and constrain Trump’s unwanted (in their eyes) rise to the top of the GOP back then.
At that time, when pressed, Trump had taken the pledge. Yet, very few people believed that he’d have respected it, had he not gotten the nomination when he did.
The fact of the matter is that Trump is not of the political establishment and has little respect or use for their ways. He will likely take the pledge in order to appear on the debate stage and run as a Republican. Plus, he’s got nothing left to lose but to try everything to restore himself in the White House.
Donald Trump: Leaving GOP and Running Third-Party?
So, if it seems as though DeSantis will defeat him in the primary, Trump will most certainly make moves to run as a third-party candidate.
For Trump, this is the end of the line. He is a highly competitive individual who believes on some level that the 2020 presidential election—his reelection—was stolen from him by a man he routinely described as, “sleepy.”
Trump’s entire public persona is defined by what he believes is “winning.” Whether it be in business, entertainment, or politics, Trump has always associated himself and his brand with victory and success. That he was bested by a man like Joe Biden does not compute with him.
Therefore, he has spent the last several years concocting an assortment of grievances directed against Biden and others whom he believes robbed him of his rightful win in 2020. Given these notions, Trump is unlikely to simply take his ball and go home when and if he loses the Republican Party’s nomination in 2024.
While I believe that Joe Biden, despite being a weak president, is still electable and competitive, if Biden squares off against Ron DeSantis, his chances decrease significantly. This is not the case with Donald Trump, who has a tendency to galvanize fence-sitting moderates and the all-important educated suburban voters against him. Because Biden is a weak president, the Republicans should have no problem beating him—unless they field the wrong candidate.
Or, more dangerously, if Trump decides to run as a third-party candidate.
2024 Will Be Like 1912
Thus, the 2024 election would end up looking much like the infamous 1912 Presidential Election. At that time, a weak Republican candidate, President Howard Taft, was forced to split his limited votes with former President Theodore Roosevelt, who ran as a third-party candidate under the banner of the Bull Moose Party. Taft and Roosevelt ended up splitting the conservative vote, leaving the field open for the lesser-known Woodrow Wilson to take the lead.
The exact same thing may happen in 2024. The presence of two bulls on the Right—Trump and DeSantis—facing off against a weak Democrat, Biden, who has the support of his united party may be just what the Democrats need to secure a second term for Joe Biden.
Make no mistake, though: whether he makes the pledge to not run as a third-party candidate, Donald Trump will be running for president. First, as a Republican. If that doesn’t work, though, he will run as a third-party candidate—dividing the party and helping the Democrats win in the end.
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Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who recently became a writer for 19FortyFive.com. Weichert is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as a contributing editor at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (March 28), and Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (May 16). Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.