Republicans are increasingly worried that a Donald Trump presidential candidacy could drag down their strongest field in recent memory.
Trump, a billionaire real estate mogul and reality TV star, has scheduled a “major” announcement from Trump Tower in New York City on June 16. Speculation is rampant that he will enter the White House race, one day after former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) is virtually certain to make his own candidacy official.
Some Republicans remain skeptical that Trump will actually join the field, however. He has flirted with running in every cycle since 2000, most notably in 2012, when he was briefly at the top of the GOP polls. But he’s never taken the plunge.
Trump and his aides insist he’s serious this go-round.
The core concern within the GOP is that Trump’s abrasiveness and penchant for personal attacks could be amplified by the media hubbub that surrounds him and turn the primary process into a circus.
“If he were in the debates, it would be must-see TV,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell. “It would also be tragic for the party, because we have a real chance to win the White House in 2016, and Republican primary voters want to hear more from others.”
“He has to understand that this isn’t ‘The Apprentice,’ this is a serious thing,” said O’Connell. “What’s going to happen when he goes after these guys? Is anything below the belt for him? Democrats are just going to be sitting there waiting to use some of this to their advantage.”