Donald Trump says the chances that he will launch a third-party White House run will “absolutely” increase if the Republican National Committee is unfair to him during the 2016 primary season, and so far, they have not treated him as a viable candidate.
“The RNC has not been supportive. They were always supportive when I was a contributor. I was their fair-haired boy,” the business mogul told The Hill in a 40-minute interview from his Manhattan office at Trump Tower on Wednesday. “The RNC has been, I think, very foolish.”
The Hill reported:
Pressed on whether he would run as a third-party candidate if he fails to clinch the GOP nomination, Trump said that “so many people want me to, if I don’t win.”
“I’ll have to see how I’m being treated by the Republicans,” Trump said. “Absolutely, if they’re not fair, that would be a factor.”
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus called Trump earlier this month asking him to tone down his controversial rhetoric. More recently, the RNC rebuked him for saying that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is not a war hero. Trump didn’t apologize but has since said that the 2008 Republican presidential nominee is a war hero.
Trump told The Hill that the GOP establishment in Washington dislikes him because he’s not part of the political class.
“I’m not in the gang. I’m not in the group where the group does whatever it’s supposed to do,” he said. “I want to do what’s right for the country — not what’s good for special interest groups that contribute, not what’s good for the lobbyists and the donors.”
The real estate magnate has upended the Republican presidential primary, with recent national polls showing that he is leading the 16-candidate field. Many in the party’s establishment, pointing to his inflammatory comments about Mexican immigrants and McCain, say that Trump is badly hurting the GOP brand.
Yet he is connecting with a significant chunk of GOP voters. And despite criticism from party leaders and other presidential candidates, Trump appears fueled by controversy.
His office, which has a stunning view of Central Park, is filled with family photos, golf trophies and sports paraphernalia.
At various times during the interview, Trump pointed out that he isn’t a politician. But the reality TV personality has politician-like skills, answering questions he wants to answer and driving the conversation to where he wants to take it. Trump doesn’t shy away from eye contact, and while prone to complaining about reporters, he is comfortable in his own skin.
The 69-year-old, of course, is no stranger to the media, and on Wednesday he complimented his questioners while also urging them — on more than one occasion — “to be fair.”
He insisted that his remarks about McCain and immigration have not and will not hurt him, and pointed to several recent polls to make his point.
Not surprisingly, Trump is a big fan of polls now.
At one point, he whipped out a survey that he had inside his suit pocket, and later he called on an aide to print out the latest poll numbers showing him leading former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R).
“I’m surprised that I’m this high,” he said.
Unlike former Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) four years ago, Trump is not predicting victory. He won’t utter the former Speaker’s famous “I’m going to be the nominee” statement, saying that would be “presumptuous.”
He attributes his rise to being frank with voters.
“I’m not surrounded by all sorts of pollsters and PR people,” Trump said. “I speak the truth. Our country is in big trouble, and I know how to turn it around.”
“Competence” and “leadership” are what voters are looking for, he says.
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