President Trump has discussed with associates the idea of forming a third party that would be called the “Patriot Party,” according to a report Tuesday that said the idea was floated amidst criticism of Trump from politicians in his own party.
The report in The Wall Street Journal said Trump “discussed the matter with several aides and other people close to him last week.” The report also said it’s “unclear how serious” Trump is with the idea.
Before departing on Air Force One Wednesday prior to Joe Biden’s inauguration, Trump said in brief remarks to supporters, “We will be back in some form.”
A third party has never won the White House. In 1992 and 1996 – the last time a major third party challenged for the presidency – third party candidate Ross Perot finished third in both the electoral college and the popular vote, although he did qualify for the presidential debates of 1992.
Former President Theodore Roosevelt ran the most successful third-party campaign in U.S. history in 1912, finishing second in the popular vote and electoral college on the Progressive (“Bull Moose”) ticket. Roosevelt’s 1912 run came four years after leaving office.
Trump’s discussion of a third party comes as Republican leaders step up their criticism of him for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the capitol building. On Tuesday, fellow Republican and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) blamed the attack on Trump.
“This mob was fed lies,” McConnell said, referencing Trumps’ allegations that the election was rigged. “They were provoked by the president and other powerful people. And they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government which they did not like.”
If Democrats remain united, a Patriot Party third party candidate – whether that’s Trump or another candidate – could split the conservative vote and make it easier for Democrats to win. That was the argument National Review writer Dan McLaughlin made in a Tuesday tweet: “If he does this, he may as well just call it the ‘give power to Democrats party.’”
Loyalty, for Trump, was always & only ever a one-way street. If he does this, he may as well just call it the "give power to Democrats party." https://t.co/B5udWzDh6m— Dan McLaughlin (@baseballcrank) January 20, 2021
When Ross Perot ran for president in 1992, Bill Clinton won the White House with only 43 percent of the popular vote.
Trump on Wednesday celebrated his administration’s successes and looked to the future.
“It is my greatest honor and privilege to have been your president. I will always fight for you,” Trump told supporters at his airport sendoff. “I will be watching, I will be listening. And I will tell you that the future of this country has never been better. I wish the new administration great luck and great success. I think they'll have great success. They have the foundation to do something really spectacular.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Joe Raedle/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.