Shameless self-promoter Donald Trump is once again trying to draw attention to himself, as the informal 2016 GOP presidential sweepstakes begin in earnest, this weekend, at the Iowa Freedom Summit. Trump made headlines on Friday for telling the Des Moines Register what flaws he saw in the Republican candidates. However, his biggest whopper came at a private dinner when Trump boasted:
I was leading in every poll. … I regret that I didn’t stay in. I would’ve won the race against Obama. He would’ve been easy. Hillary is tougher to beat than Obama, but Hillary is very beatable.
Mr. Trump has a remarkably selective memory. Apparently, he remembers his brief lead in GOP polling, early in 2011. However, he conveniently forgets that his polling numbers collapsed from 26 percent GOP support in April to 8 percent support in May. Not only did he not lead in the polls, he was a distant fifth place in the Republican field, by May of 2011.
Trump is again teasing the American public by suggesting that he is interested in running for the White House again in 2016. Not that Americans are especially interested. The Donald plays this game every four years but never ultimately chooses to run. Trump is strongly disliked by American voters now. Despite his delusions of grandeur, he was also loathed in the run-up to the 2012 election. He may try to fool himself, but one reason he never entered the presidential contest is because he would have lost badly. Polling from 2011 shows that he was deeply unpopular in the crucial swing states that decide Presidential elections.
Ironically, Trump laments that Mitt Romney was a poor candidate to challenge Obama. Of course, Mitt Romney’s main political liability was that he came across as an economically tone deaf rich guy who couldn’t relate to the struggles of ordinary working Americans. It’s hard to imagine that Donald Trump would have sidestepped that political narrative. He is every bit as out of touch as Romney. On top of that, Trump appears more petulant. The media would have had a field day with his campaign, and voters would have rejected him quite handily. This is something Donald probably knows deep down. He chose not to run because he knew his candidacy was doomed from the start.
Naturally, Mr. Trump is not alone in Republican fantasy land. Former Bears football coach, Mike Ditka, once told a North Dakota crowd, that he regretted not running for the Illinois Senate seat in 2004 because he “probably would have won”. Consequently, had President Obama never won that Senate seat, he would not have been able to use it as a springboard to launch himself into the White House four years later.
Republicans who have gone up against Barack Obama have lost every time. Donald Trump may fancy himself a strong candidate, but public opinion polls do not support his claims to being electable. He can tell himself he could be, should be, would be, President Trump some day. However, as long as he is unable to convince voters to agree with him, it’s not going to happen.