01.11.2020, 22:30

Here’s what Donald Trump has said he’d do if he loses the election

Here’s what Donald Trump has said he’d do if he loses the election

The U.S President Donald Trump has repeatedly mused about what he would do if he lost the election. 

Possibilities suggested by the president and his circle range from anything from disappearing entirely, to fronting a rightwing media empire — to attempting to cling to power. 

Throughout his campaign — and as his polling numbers worsened— President Donald Trump has repeatedly mused about the possibility of losing the election to Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Often, his comments about losing have been made as part of commentary on the unfitness of his opponent, such as when he told a Wisconsin rally in October that Biden would be a humiliating person to lose to. 

“If I lose, I will have lost to the worst candidate, the worst candidate in the history of presidential politics,” The Washington Post reported him as saying. “If I lose, what do I do? I’d rather run against somebody who’s extraordinarily talented, at least, this way I can go and lead my life.”

But his commentaries do shed some light on question of how Trump would go and lead his life if he lost.

During both 2016 and the 2020 elections, Trump and his inner circle have made several suggestions about what he may do — from fronting a media outlet to never being seen again. 

Cling to the White House?

In June, Trump told Fox News that “If I don’t win, I don’t win,” and that he will “go on, [and] do other things,” as Business Insider’s Sophia Ankel reported. 

The comments were read as an acceptance of a lost election.

But on multiple occasions since, Trump has suggested that he would not accept a result in which he loses, and has refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power in that case. 

Asked by Fox News host Chris Wallace in July, he said: “I have to see, look, I have to see, I’m not just going to say yes, I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time either.”

In September, when asked about it during a press conference, he said: “We’re going to have to see what happens”

Trump’s niece, Mary Trump — who has come out in support of Joe Biden — said at a virtual fundraiser in September that her uncle would go “farther than you can possibly imagine” to stay in the White House.

Such an attempt would be an upheaval unprecedented in US history. After a furious news cycle around his September comments, Trump has not returned to the topic or fleshed out any plans.

“You’ll never see me again.”

On September 19 at a rally in North Carolina, Trump riffed on the subject again.

“If I lose to him, I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he said. “I will never speak to you again. You’ll never see me again.”

The implication was that losing to Biden would be so mortifying he’d have to disappear, and the joke delighted the crowd.

It also provided perfect fodder for the Biden campaign, which sent a six-second clip of the moment out onto Twitter the next day.

“I’m Joe Biden and I approve this message,” was the only comment the campaign added. 

“I’ll go to Turnberry and play golf or something.”

Trump said something very similar in April 2016 when he joked about candidates who give humble concession speeches after a bitter presidential contest.

As the Republican frontrunner, he had not yet secured the nomination, but was already talking about what he would do as the nominee if he ultimately lost.

He contrasted himself with what he cast as the hypocrisy of other political candidates. 

“[Candidates] fight like hell for six months, and they’re saying horrible things, the worst things you can imagine,” he said. “And then one of them loses, one of them wins. And the one who loses says, ‘I just want to congratulate my opponent. He is a brilliant man, he’ll be a great governor or president or whatever.'”

“I’m not sure you’re ever going to see me there. I don’t think I’m going to lose, but if I do, I don’t think you’re ever going to see me again, folks. I think I’ll go to Turnberry and play golf or something.”

Turnberry is Trump’s Scottish golf course.

Trump, of course, went on to a shock victory over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. 

“A media empire of some kind.”

During the 2016 election, rumors abounded that his presidential bid was a publicity stunt, meant to raise his profile for a post-election media empire.

With his campaign bringing unprecedented showmanship to the field of politics, it was not a major stretch for Vanity Fair to report on rumors in 2016 June that the former reality TV star was mulling over starting a TV channel in the event of losing the election.

That chatter has renewed again in Trumpworld, GOP sources told Insider’s Tom LoBianco and Lucia Moses in October 2020. Three sources said that Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, had repeatedly floated the idea of a Trump-branded network. 

“There’s no doubt in my mind that Jared’s future is in building a media empire of some kind,” one of the Republicans familiar with the discussions said. “He believes that controlling the media means controlling the policy, controlling the people.” 

The White House denied the reports. 

A pardoning spree

After an election loss, Trump would still have 77 days left in office. 

A presidential pardon is legally uncomplicated and “operates in the way he imagines the presidency to operate — you wave your hand and it’s done,” Quinta Jurecic, the managing editor of the blog Lawfare told Politico. 

It’s a power he has used 28 times before, including commuting the sentence of former Republican strategist and close Trump associate Roger Stone in July. 

Stone’s commutation shows how the pardon ability offers a means to build relationships that could be useful in transitioning to post-presidential life. This would be particularly useful given the number of lawsuits he may face post-presidency.