Hillary Clinton declared her candidacy for President on April 12, 2015. Bernie Sanders declared his on April 30, 2015, and Donald Trump declared his on June 16, 2015. And in late May, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump had a discussion about the Donald's options and role within the Republican Party. Although the Clinton sources have denied that Bill Clinton urged the Donald to run, if Bill presented in favorable terms a Donald White House run, then he was basically supporting that option.
From early on there have been accusations leveled at Trump that he was a Trojan horse designed to bring down the Republic Party and guarantee Hillary Clinton's electoral success. But this sort of theory reposes on the idea that Trump has been simply trying to building up his own brand in cooperation with the Clintons. The ugliness of the campaign as it grinds to a close would seem to undermine the theory. Hillary and the Donald seem anything but cooperative with one another, and the Donald seems to be tearing down his brand, not building it up. In other words, Trump has been trying to win but has been doing a poor job to reach his goal.
Although the Clinton sources have denied that Bill Clinton urged the Donald to run, if Bill presented in favorable terms a Donald White House run, then he was basically supporting that option.
So let's try a different tack: what if the Donald wanted to run but was uncertain if he should. Bill Clinton, however, wanted him to run because he perceived the Donald as a strong Republican primary candidate but a weaker general election candidate than Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker or some of the other potential Republican nominees. If that is what was going on, then Bill Clinton deserves his label of political genius.
Perhaps what Bill Clinton perceived is what many of us have learned. Trump has a strong minority in the Republican Party. As the Republican race started off, Trump commanded a huge amount of media coverage, and he had a steady and solid one-third of the Republican electorate. While this was not a majority of the primary voters, it was large when compared to the voter support of any of the other 16 candidates. As candidates withdrew from the nomination race, Trump managed to pick up a small percentage of their supporters. In the end he had over 50% of the voters and had prevailed in enough primary elections to guarantee his nomination at the nominating convention.
During the general election, however, and notwithstanding Hillary Clinton's own problems with the electorate, the strategy of negativity and hate which the Donald successfully used to build support in the primaries caused him to lose support. The Republican establishment never liked him, and its support of the Donald has slowly peeled away. As we approach the election, Trump's lack of support has made it plain that Clinton will win the election.
Looking back over the past year or more, it has become evident that a candidate such as Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush would have done better than Trump against Clinton. Either of those two could have maintained the establishment Republican Party and probably would have won over the Trump supporters. Neither of them have the extreme problems that have emerged for Trump as a result of his personality disorders.
Even if Bill Clinton did not urge Trump to run, he probably did nothing to dissuade the Donald from seeking the Republican nomination. Adding yet another candidate to the many already running would do nothing to help the Republican Party. And Bill Clinton would certainly know Trump as a person and would be able to foresee the problems he would make for himself in trying to run.
In late May 2015, no one could predict how strong the Sanders candidacy would become or that Trump would ultimately gain the Republic nomination. From Bill Clinton's perspective, however, adding Trump to the Republican stew would have no negative effect on Hillary's candidacy. In the end, the combination of rigging the Democratic nomination and having Trump as the Republican nominee has resulted in giving the election of Hillary. And that, after all, is what Bill Clinton wanted all along.
Michael T. Hertz