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Trump Explains What Would Get Him Out of the Presidential Race

Eric Pianin

Is Donald Trump a quitter?    

The multi-billionaire businessman and GOP presidential frontrunner is riding high in the polls. He issues pronouncements nearly every day about his brilliance as a leader and negotiator. And he gleefully mocks rivals like Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham for trailing so badly in the race for the GOP presidential nomination.

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But what will he do when his campaign hits a rough patch — as all campaigns do — and he begins to slip in the polls?

Rather than pull up his socks and double his efforts, Trump said on Thursday that he probably would pull out of the race if he began to seriously tank in the polls.

“I’m not a masochist,” Trump said in an interview with CNBC’s John Harwood. “Right now, I’m leading every poll, in most cases big. . . If that changed, if I was like some of these people at 1 percent or 2 percent, there’s no reason to move forward . . . If I tank, sure, I go back to business. Why wouldn’t I?”

For a while, Republican Party officials fretted that Trump might mount a third party or independent candidacy for president if he concluded he was being mistreated by the GOP. But that fear dissipated in early September after Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus convinced Trump to sign a party loyalty oath, vowing to support the Republican presidential nominee even if it turns out to be someone other than Trump.

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Trump amassed his empire of New York skyscrapers, plush casinos and golf courses and dozens of other businesses with a relentless, take no prisoners negotiating style. It would be hard to imagine him simply throwing in the towel if his presidential campaign suddenly took a dramatic turn for the worse, even as many of his detractors and critics endlessly speculate that he will be out of the race before next summer’s political conventions.

For now, Trump sees nothing but blue skies. He continues to draw large crowds with his bombastic, anti-immigrant rhetoric and promises to renew America’s greatness. Campaign funding is no problem for the deep-pocketed real estate magnate who travels in his own corporate jet. And he consistently leads in all the national and battleground state polls.

According to the Real Clear Politics aggregated national polling, Trump is out in front with 23.3 percent of likely Republican primary voters, followed by retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson with 16.3 percent and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina with 11.8 percent. The remaining dozen or so candidates all are in the single digits — or in a couple of cases, no digit.

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Trump says his critics are in for a big disappointment, and that voters will be delighted when they see what he can do on the domestic and foreign fronts once he is in the White House.

“Your answer to policy questions is, 'I’m Trump, I’m good, I’m the best, I will get it done,’” Harwood said during the interview.

“Well, there’s a little truth to that,” Trump replied. “Actually, a lot of truth."

“You’ve been very successful, but we don’t have Superman presidents,” Harwood persisted.

“But we will if you have Trump — you watch,” the billionaire said.


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