Are Rick Perry and Mitt Romney calling Donald Trump to keep him out of the 2012 race?
Rick Perry is giving Mitt Romney a run for his money. Only two weeks into his presidential campaign, Perry’s already leading in five polls, thereby usurping the front-runner status Romney spent months cultivating. Now it appears they’re vying for Donald Trump’s attention, and Perry’s winning.
Politico reporter James Hohmann passes on word that Perry has called Trump three times since getting into the race. Romney, meanwhile, has also called, and Hohmann’s report makes it sound as if the former Massachusetts governor isn’t getting the very far.
Rick Perry has been speaking with Donald Trump by phone since wading into the presidential race… Michael Cohen, the New York businessman’s special counsel, said the Texas governor has called on “several occasions.” Someone else familiar with the dialogue said Perry has spoken to Trump three times, adding that Perry’s daughter got on the phone during a recent chat. Perry spokesman Mark Miner said he would not discuss “the Governor’s private conversations.”
Mitt Romney recently phoned too, two sources familiar with the call said. A Romney spokeswoman declined to comment.
It’s understandable that Trump and Romney wouldn’t be as chummy as Trump and Perry. Trump previously derided Romney as a “small business” guy whose wealth was dwarfed by his own, and the two exchanged barbs when Trump stoked the birther debate. Still, Hohmann says Romney’s campaign needs to iron out any old tensions between the men.
Though Trump won’t run as a Republican in 2012, he has said he would launch a third party bid if he doesn’t like the GOP candidate. A Public Policy Polling survey shows that a third party bid like Trump’s would effectively doom the Republican nominee’s odds of beating Obama. Romney, Perry and the other contenders therefore all have a vested interest in keeping Trump off the ballot.
While that may be why Perry and Romney are ringing up Trump, it’s hard to imagine their respective campaigns are truly sweating the business man’s potential run: the “Trump as Third Party” scenario seems rather far-fetched.
Trump counsel Cohen paints the calls as nothing more than requests for a Trump endorsement, telling Hohmann, “It clearly goes to show you the power that Trump controls or that Trump maintains with the American people, as now the current frontrunner is clearly seeking Mr. Trump’s endorsement.”
Sure, that could be the case: Trump’s endorsement would make news, but would it really help influence voters? Trump’s approval rating among Republicans dropped from 26% to 8% in the month before he announced he won’t run for the party nomination. It’s there unlikely Trump’s endorsement will persuade undecided voters to support one candidate or the other.
This leaves only one reason why Rick Perry and Mitt Romney have called Donald Trump. It’s also the most obvious: they want his money. Or to secure a guest spot on ‘The Apprentice’ should they lose the party nomination.
Either way, it’s clear Trump still has undue influence over the Republican presidential race, and probably will for months to come.