Donald Trump could hand the election to Hillary: Now he says he may go third party

The right-wing mogul refuses to rule out an independent bid for the White House if his run for the GOP nod sputters

By Sophia Tesfaye

Published July 9, 2015 6:29PM (EDT)

Donald Trump                                                 (AP/Dennis Van Tine)
Donald Trump (AP/Dennis Van Tine)

Donald Trump is promising to be the GOP's never-ending nightmare. “So many people want me to run as an independent — so many people,” Trump told the Washington Post today, refusing to rule out a third party run should he fail to secure the GOP nomination.

As Trump's popularity in the Republican Party grows and the nightmare of a Trump presidential run becomes a more present reality, the real estate mogul has grown ever more defiant in his dealings with the GOP establishment. Trump refuted a report by the Washington Post which claimed Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus called Trump yesterday to encourage that he "tone it down" on all the anti-Mexican immigrant rhetoric. Trump denied the details of the story but eventually conceded that Prebius had encouraged he soften his language.

Trump continued, telling the Post, that he was a serious candidate with every intention on filing his financial disclosures with the Federal Election Commission in time to enter the Fox News debates. Fox News is hosting the first Republican debate which will only include the top 10 presidential candidates based on their standings in the national polls. But each candidate must file “all necessary paperwork.” Trump said his campaign would have no problem with that requirement.  "It’s extremely large ... but I think we’ll file it ahead of schedule,” he said of his financial disclosure, predicting a release as early as next week.

For his part, Jeb Bush has already asked for a 45-day extension on his financial disclosures. The Fox News debate is on August 6. Trump currently polls seventh nationally.

Asked whether he would support the Republican ticket if he wasn't the nominee, Trump simply replied: “I would have to see who the nominee is.”

“I have been asked by — you have no idea, everybody wants me to do it. I think the best chance of defeating the Democrats and to make America great again is to win as a Republican because I don’t want to be splitting up votes.”

This comes as more and more Republicans attempt a delicate dance to distance themselves from Trump's rhetoric without offending those voters who agree with his brash tone. House Speaker John Boehner did his best to dismiss Trump as the spokesman of the Party, “I disagree with Mr. Trump’s comments and frankly I think political presidential candidates — they’ve all pretty much made their positions clear.”

“This has become the biggest political football I’ve seen in my congressional career, this whole issue of illegal immigration and what to do about it,” Boehner told reporters on Thursday. “And if we want to resolve issues like we’ve seen develop in San Francisco, and elsewhere, we need to get serious about enforcing the laws we have, and if we don’t like the laws we have, then we need as a Congress to sit down and resolve this issue. And I want to see it resolved sooner rather than later.”

Trump has credited his campaign with bringing the issue of illegal immigration to the forefront during the early stages of this campaign cycle.

When Boehner was asked if the Republican-controlled House had any intention on voting on immigration reform ahead of the presidential election all he could muster was: “I would hope so.”

Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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