The story surfaced like one of those trial balloons we’re used to seeing out of political offices and campaigns — Republican insiders telling Fox News that President Donald Trump is grumpy about his reelection prospects and might quit the campaign if his poll numbers don’t improve.
Let him. But don’t count on it.
The campaign rejected the notion, calling it the “granddaddy of fake news.” The report sounds more like wishful thinking by Republicans who fear the president’s unpopularity will hurt the party further down the ticket.
In fact, a drubbing come November could cost the Republicans control of the U.S. Senate and return Democrats to unified power in Washington with a strong mandate by voters to reverse Trump’s wide range of policies — including immigration, his ill-advised tax cut and his destruction of environmental protections.
No to mention his dangerous denial that climate change poses a potentially existential threat to humankind, and his efforts to increase production and burning of fossil fuels for energy.
But quit? That doesn’t seem likely.
Trump didn’t run for president because he likes politics. He ran because he’s an egomaniac, he thought a campaign would bolster his business interests and he thrives on being the center of attention. The spotlight is his oxygen.
And he’s a fighter. Even when there isn’t a fight, he manages to find or create one.
Remember his last campaign?
And his reelection campaign has already spent some $18 million of other people’s money — donations from supporters — at Trump properties, according to Open Secrets, a watchdog group that tracks political spending. Add to that the $3 million or so that the Republican Party and other political organizations have spent at Trump resorts or hotels.
That’s on top of the hundreds of thousands of dollars the government spent since his election protecting Trump while he visited his properties — which was roughly a third of his time before the COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, the government keeps most of that spending secret, so the public does not really know how much the public is paying to protect the president while he spends weekends at his private resorts.
When he said he was draining the swamp, maybe he really meant he was going to move it to his golf courses as a water hazard.
So no, it’s not likely the president will shut off that flow of cash to his businesses just because he’s behind in polls. As Trump often points out, polls showed him losing in 2016, too — though he did in fact lose the national vote, while prevailing in the only vote that matters, the electoral college.
Expect him to stick it out. And if he does lose, watch him further sow discord by falsely claiming voter fraud, blaming the media for conspiring against him with the Democrats, and retweeting vile conspiracy theories.
Because that’s what he does.
Scott Martelle wrote this piece for the Los Angeles Times.