Donald Trump says he can beat Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) in November’s election.
But before he runs, he wants New York Republicans to want him to be their candidate.
“We’ll see what happens. If we get a unified party — a unified, New York State party — No. 1, I would run. And No. 2, I think I would win,” Trump told a small group of reporters at the Grand Hyatt hotel in midtown Manhattan Wednesday night.
This isn’t the first time Trump has threatened to run for office. In fact, it’s the seventh time. None of his previous flirtations (with the presidency in 1988, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012, and with New York’s governorship in 2006) led to an actual campaign.
Nevertheless, Trump was the keynote speaker Wednesday at the New York County Republican Committee’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner, talking about what he might do if he were governor.
The Manhattan GOP said that it raised about $US60,000 from the dinner, as hundreds turned out to hear him speak. But that didn’t mean the attendees were buying the charade.
Donor Oskar Weg told Business Insider that he thought Trump was more of a “provocateur than a candidate.”
“That’s the million-dollar question,” another donor said, when asked if he thought Trump would run. “Well, I guess if you’d have bet on ‘no’ all the other times, you’d be rich.”
Another overheard conversation left one donor seemingly dumbfounded when asked, legitimately, if he thought Trump would run.
“Come on,” the donor said.
“Yeah, we don’t really need a primary, anyway,” the other said.
For now, that seems like the most likely reason Trump will cite if and when he eventually decides not to pursue a run. He emphasised on Wednesday night that he would need “party unity” if he decided to run — something that would not include a primary.
A primary seems likely if Trump were to enter the race, given that Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino recently announced he would form an exploratory committee for governor. Astorino is believed to have the backing of state party leaders, including state party chair Ed Cox. Trump confirmed that fact Wednesday night — albeit in a roundabout way.
“The Republican leadership has come to my office on numerous occasions. They were there today,” Trump said.
“Virtually all of them want me to do it, other than Ed Cox, who doesn’t know how to win. He’s never won anything, so he doesn’t know how to win, and I guess he hasn’t made up his mind. But we’ll see what happens.”
A Quinnipiac poll released Thursday morning showed that Cuomo, ahem, trumps both candidates. He leads Trump 63-26 and Astorino 58-24 in theoretical races. His approval rating sits at a rock-solid 63%, and 59% of New Yorkers say he deserves to be re-elected.
That did not stop Trump from making bold pronouncements.
“If they want me, and if they go to the convention and ask me to do it, I would do it,” he said. “And I believe I’d win.”
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