Meet the Press

Can Donald Trump Win?


Real estate mogul Donald Trump announces his bid for the presidency in the 2016 presidential race during an event at the Trump Tower on the Fifth Avenue in New York City on June 16, 2015. Trump, one of America's most flamboyant and outspoken billionaires, threw his hat into the race Tuesday for the White House, promising to make America great again. The 69-year-old long-shot candidate ridiculed the country's current crop of politicians and vowed to take on the growing might of China in a speech launching his run for the presidency in 2016. "I am officially running for president of the United States and we are going to make our country great again," he said from a podium bedecked in US flags at Trump Tower on New York's Fifth Avenue. The tycoon strode onto the stage after sailing down an escalator to the strains of "Rockin' In The Free World" by Canadian singer Neil Young after being introduced by daughter Ivanka. His announcement follows years of speculation that the man known to millions as the bouffant-haired host of American reality TV game show "The Apprentice" would one day enter politics. Trump identifies himself as a Republican, and has supported Republican candidates in the past. But in his announcement speech he did not explicitly say if he was running for the party's nomination or as an independent.AFP PHOTO/ KENA BETANCURKENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images KENA BETANCUR / AFP - Getty Images

Donald Trump is almost certainly not going to be the Republican presidential nominee, and his candidacy puts the Republican Party in a quandary over its rules for which candidates to include in debates.

Trump has repeatedly suggested he will run for president, but has never followed through until now, although it remains unclear if his name will actually be on the ballot next year in Iowa. The real estate mogul has so far only released a short memo detailing his finances, but said Tuesday he will complete the full financial disclosure required by the Federal Election Commission to be a presidential candidate "right on time." Such a filing has risks for Trump, as it could show him as less wealthy than he claims and force him to open up his finances to public scrutiny.

Even if he is on the ballot, Trump has obvious disadvantages. He has never run for another office or held another government post, as nearly all modern presidents have.The Republican Party has at least a dozen candidates with stronger credentials than Trump.

Brash Trump Full of Zingers During Presidential Announcement 2:18

He is unlikely to win a single primary. And Trump, unlike other long-shots like surgeon Ben Carson and businesswoman Carly Fiorina, is likely to use his candidacy to take personal potshots at the other candidates, particularly Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, instead of discussing policy.

Trump’s interest in politics seems aimed at gaining attention, not addressing serious issues. He is perhaps the most prominent Republican to suggest continually that President Obama was not born in the United States. After the president publicly released his birth certificate in 2011, Trump remained unconvinced. He said he would give $5 million to a charity on the president’s behalf if Obama released his college transcript and passport records, which Trump suggested would show Obama is not an American citizen.

Trump though has already succeeded in some ways. Through repeatedly flirting with presidential runs in the past and now following through, the real estate mogul has become an influential person in national politics. He’s frequently a keynote speaker at Republican events like the Conservative Political Action Conference. He’s treated as a serious candidate, appearing on-stage at GOP events before or after people who could in truth be the Republican nominee, like Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

In part, this stems from the overuse of polls by those in political circles. At the height of his questioning of Obama’s citizenship back in April 2011, Trump was leading the Republican primary field, well ahead of Mitt Romney, the eventual winner.

The polls create the impression that Trump is a true contender for the presidency.

In reality, polls are often simply a test of fame. Trump has an NBC tv show (“The Apprentice”) and a chain of hotels named after him. He is ahead of some other Republican candidates simply because he is better-known. In a one-on-one contest between Trump and Rubio, the former would be trounced, as Republican voters learned more about both men’s records and policy stances.

Usually, Trump’s strength in polls doesn’t really matter. But the Republican Party has elevated the power of polls in the 2016 cycle, using them to, in effect, winnow the large GOP field.

The Republican National Committee last month gave permission to Fox News to limit its presidential debate to the top 10 candidates in national polls. (The network is holding an informal "forum" for those outside the top 10.)

Currently, Trump is ahead Ohio Gov. John Kasich, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and ex-Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum in many surveys.

Santorum finished second in the 2012 primaries, Kasich runs America’s seventh-largest state and Graham is one of the party’s leading voices on national security policy.

A debate process that includes Trump but excludes that trio seems flawed. It would seem to reward questioning the president’s birthplace over working in challenging government posts.

Donald Trump has little chance of being the Republican nominee. But his presence may limit the ability of more plausible candidates to run effectively.