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Is it too much to ask that he be run over by a bus?

I would never wish a former president harm, with the possible exception of him being blasted by an elephant gun or, better still, stepped on by a giant elephant.

Who am I kidding? They'd never take him down in Hades. He's too obnoxious. Wait a minute, unless they hire him as a tour guide!

Trump’s Third-Party Play in 2024

If he loses the GOP nomination for president, he could make life miserable for Republicans.

William McGurn, WSJ

March 13, 2023 5:57 pm ET

At the first Republican presidential debate in 2015, Bret Baier of Fox News opened by asking for a show of hands from candidates who wouldn’t promise to support the GOP nominee. Only Donald Trump raised his hand. Mr. Baier pressed him, asking if he understood that an independent run would almost certainly deliver the race to the Democrat.

“I will not make the pledge at this time,” Mr. Trump confirmed.

That was a threat to the Republican Party then. It’s a greater threat today. And it speaks to the unique challenge faced by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2024.

At this moment Mr. DeSantis trails Mr. Trump 43% to 28.3% in the RealClearPolitics poll average. Not only does Mr. DeSantis have to beat Mr. Trump in the primaries, he has to do it in a way that won’t provoke the former president into stalking off and running as a third-party candidate in the general election.

Mr. Trump faces no such inhibition. He’s already launched a few broadsides in the governor’s direction and tried out some nicknames, although none have stuck. Mr. Trump remains the man to beat, but at the moment Mr. DeSantis appears the Republican likeliest to beat him.

The governor’s record in Florida is impressive. He can also argue (and has) that, unlike President Trump, he was re-elected to a second term. Indeed, while the former president lost the popular vote in both 2016 and 2020, Gov. DeSantis squeaked by in 2018 but was re-elected last November by 19.4%—in the process flipping predominantly Latino Miami-Dade Country.

But Mr. Trump can’t be written off. He remains the first choice of a huge chunk of Republican voters, and a crowded field could work for him if it ends up splintering the opposition. The winner-take-all nature of many GOP primaries could help him rack up enough delegates to prevent any challenger from gathering steam.

Even if Mr. DeSantis managed to win the nomination, Mr. Trump might still be able to frustrate his chances. Thin margins in some swing states clearly show that a shift of a few thousand votes in three or four states could mean a different president. The most dramatic example is Florida in 2000.

Florida’s official tally shows George W. Bush bested Al Gore by 537 votes out of almost six million cast. Ralph Nader, who ran as the Green Party candidate, got 97,488 votes.

Assuming these Nader voters would have voted for Mr. Gore (far from a given), you can argue Mr. Nader threw the election to Mr. Bush. To add to the intrigue, seven other third-party candidates in Florida also topped Mr. Bush’s 537-vote margin, including James Harris of the Socialist Workers Party, who got 562 votes.

It can work the other way too. A group called No Labels has already succeeded in getting on the 2024 ballot in Colorado, Arizona and Oregon. The idea is to offer a centrist alternative “if the two parties select unreasonably divisive candidates.” Critics say all it will do is elect Mr. Trump.

As for Mr. Trump’s strategy, Galen Druke argued in a podcast that the former president benefits from leading primary voters to believe “that if he doesn’t win the nomination he’ll destroy Republicans’ prospects of winning the presidency because then that will in a way create a sort of rally around the Trump flag.”

Mr. Druke also brought up sore-loser laws, which might prevent him from getting on the ballot in certain states. But these laws would be largely irrelevant if Mr. Trump’s real goal were not to win the presidency but simply to deny it to any other Republican. As Mr. Druke asked: “Would Trump’s third-party candidacy be about winning, or just be about revenge?”

The GOP is well aware of the risk. On CNN Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, said it’s a “no-brainer” that the party will require candidates to sign a pledge to support the ultimate nominee as a condition of appearing in the GOP debates. Ms. McDaniel’s problem is that there’s no way to enforce such a pledge, and if Mr. Trump feels the party isn’t treating him fairly, he could pull out and revoke his pledge at any time.

The longer he stays in, of course, the harder it would be to get on state ballots as a third party. But if defeating Mr. DeSantis became his real aim, he might not even need a third party. He could simply discourage his supporters from voting for Mr. DeSantis, forcing the governor to have to run against Messrs. Trump and Biden at the same time.

In 2016, the question was, “Can Donald Trump be elected?” In 2024, the question may be, “Will Donald Trump try to ensure that no Republican wins the White House if the party doesn’t nominate him?”

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