US: Trump wor­ries about a third party can­di­date


Why are some Repub­li­cans talk­ing about a third party can­di­date?

There are those in the party who don’t like Don­ald Trump, who don’t trust him and think he is, in the words of one Repub­li­can es­tab­lish­ment fig­ure, “spec­tac­u­larly un­qual­i­fied to be pres­i­dent”.

They can’t quite bring them­selves to vote for Hil­lary Clin­ton so would like a con­ser­va­tive al­ter­na­tive in Novem­ber.

There are three things they can do.

They can get an ex­ist­ing mi­nor party to field a can­di­date they can get be­hind; they can cre­ate a new party of their own; or they can back an In­de­pen­dent.

The lead­ing fig­ures be­hind this drive are com­men­ta­tors Bill Kris­tol and Erik Erik­son.

But they have the sup­port of oth­ers, in­clud­ing for­mer Repub­li­can nom­i­nee Mitt Rom­ney. He launched a scathing at­tack on the Trump can­di­dacy in March and urged party vot­ers to do what they could to stop him.

That clearly didn’t work. Rom­ney has ruled him­self out for a slot. Ohio Governor John Ka­sich was con­sid­ered but while he hasn’t leapt to en­dorse Trump, he still har­bours hopes of an­other pres­i­den­tial run.

Mark Cuban, a busi­ness­man, was con­sid­ered too but told the Wash­ing­ton Post “I don’t see it hap­pen­ing”.

Ne­braska Se­na­tor Ben Sasse has been very vo­cal about the choice fac­ing US vot­ers this Novem­ber, air­ing dis­sat­is­fac­tion about Trump and Clin­ton.

Still, he’s not high pro­file and would strug­gle to be picked out of a line up in his home state.

No one has yet thrown up their hands and shouted “pick me”.

It’s in­struc­tive that Michael Bloomberg, the mega rich for­mer New York mayor, ap­par­ently spent a lot of time and money look­ing at launch­ing his own third-party bid.

He had name, recog­ni­tion, a ba­sic po­lit­i­cal op­er­a­tion and could throw a con­sid­er­able amount of his mil­lions in a cam­paign.

But while be­liev­ing Bloomberg could win a few states, he re­alised he could not win the pres­i­dency.

There are a num­ber of donors who do not want Trump to win so they would be tapped to help when it comes to fi­nances.

But it costs around $1bn to run a full-on pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. It’s hard to see any third party rais­ing a 10th of that.

The fil­ing dead­line for the elec­tion has al­ready passed in Texas. And other states will fol­low very quickly. So if they want some­one in place, it re­ally needs to be within the next two weeks.

In 1980, John An­der­son did not de­clare his in­de­pen­dent run un­til late April and through the courts man­aged to get on the bal­lot in all 50 states and Wash­ing­ton DC. He didn’t do well.

Ross Perot pulled in nearly 20 mil­lion votes in 1992. That’s 18.9 per­cent of the vote.

Repub­li­cans be­lieve he took votes away from then pres­i­dent Ge­orge Bush and handed the White House to Bill Clin­ton.

When he ran un­der the Re­form Party ban­ner four years later, he lost 12 mil­lion votes some­where and vir­tu­ally dis­ap­peared from pol­i­tics.

The afore­men­tioned An­der­son ran in 1980. He polled nearly six mil­lion votes as Ron­ald Rea­gan won in a land­slide.

Wal­lace and Nixon: In 1968, Alabama’s governor, Ge­orge Wal­lace, ran for the newly formed Amer­i­can In­de­pen­dent Party.

The man, who once de­clared “seg­re­ga­tion now, seg­re­ga­tion to­mor­row, seg­re­ga­tion for­ever”, won al­most 10 mil­lion votes and cru­cially 46 elec­toral col­lege votes all in the deep south.

Richard Nixon took the win but stole Wal­lace’s law-and-order plat­form: a coded ref­er­ence to the race ri­ots many blamed on Black Amer­i­cans and turned it into his suc­cess­ful south­ern strat­egy in 1972.

It’s al­most a 100 years since there was a cred­i­ble third party can­di­date.

Teddy Roo­sevelt run­ning as the Bull Moose Party’s nom­i­nee in 1912 cap­tured 27 per­cent of the vote tak­ing sec­ond place and forc­ing the Repub­li­can into third.

So should Trump be wor­ried? If they can get a cred­i­ble can­di­date, and if they can raise the money, and if they can get that per­son on as many state bal­lots as pos­si­ble, there might be a prob­lem then.

But there are way too many “ifs” for him to start los­ing sleep.

1992 Third party can­di­date Ross Perot who took votes away from then pres­i­dent Ge­orge H. Bush and handed the White House to Bill Clin­ton.

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