Donald Trump hints at independent run as primaries get nasty

Donald Trump pictured at a campaign rally in Baton Rouge, Louisiana last week. Picture: AP/Gerald Herbert

Donald Trump pictured at a campaign rally in Baton Rouge, Louisiana last week. Picture: AP/Gerald Herbert

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US PRESIDENTIAL hopeful Donald Trump has restated the possibility of running as an independent candidate if he fails to win the Republican nomination.

The maverick businessman has caused controversy in Scotland with his golf investments, branding local residents in Aberdeenshire ‘losers’ and calling the farm of Aberdeenshire smallholder Michael Forbes ‘a pigsty’, as well as saying that independence would be a disaster for Scotland. Last month he threatened to withdraw £700 million of investment in Scottish golf courses if he was banned from entering the United Kingdom.

If Trump were to run as an independent it would split the Republican vote and make victory easier for the Democrats.

The tycoon has emerged as a somewhat surprising frontrunner in the race to contest the Presidential election in November.

Trump’s insurgent victory in the New Hampshire Republican Primary has been mirrored in the race for the Democratic candidacy.

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Like Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump has enjoyed a surge in support. Picture: Getty Images

Like Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump has enjoyed a surge in support. Picture: Getty Images

What at first appeared a clear majority for Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton has created uncertainty in the US over who will win the Democratic nomination.

Senator Sanders has sent shockwaves through the Democrats, moving from just four per cent in national polls in January to forty per cent this weekend, with his support still increasing.

Sanders, a rank outsider when the race began, won the most votes ever by a Primary candidate in New Hampshire.

The veteran politician has been successful in mobilising large numbers of Democratic voters on a platform of anti-corporate action, European-style state-funded education and further healthcare reforms.

Support for Bernie Sanders has been growing at a quickening pace. Picture: Getty Images

Support for Bernie Sanders has been growing at a quickening pace. Picture: Getty Images

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Without a single non-white candidate vying for the White House the race is on for the votes of black and Hispanic Americans. Hillary Clinton has been officially endorsed by several African American groups, whilst Sanders attracted controversy this week when he intimated that some white groups were as disadvantaged as black Americans at an event in Minneapolis.

“It’s not just black, it is Latino, there are areas of America, in poor rural areas, where it’s white”, said Sanders to the predominantly black audience.

Trump, meanwhile, remains popular with voters attracted by his hardline rhetoric on immigration and straight-talking persona.

Mr Sanders is channelling high levels of support from younger voters. Picture: AP

Mr Sanders is channelling high levels of support from younger voters. Picture: AP

Trump gained notoriety in Scotland for his outspoken remarks to the Scottish Parliament and the local press regarding his landmark golf development in Aberdeenshire.

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In a committee hearing before MSPs he stated ‘I am the evidence’ when asked to provide proof of detrimental impacts caused by wind turbines close to his Scottish resort.

Trump remains popular with voters but has annoyed traditional Republican figures, who he accuses of disrespecting the pledge he signed with the party to compete for their Presidential ticket.

The US election battle comes to a head on March 1 when ‘Super Tuesday’ sees states across America vote for Republican and Democratic presidential hopefuls.

It will be then that Trump and Sanders are tested on a national scale and whether their challenges to more centrist candidates carry any real weight.

A poll of polls by the Huffington Post US has placed Trump on 36 per cent, a resounding lead over nearest rival Ted Cruz.

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Trump has launched personal attacks on Cruz, claiming that the Canadian-born Texas Senator is not eligible to become US President.

Trump previously led a campaign to prove that Barack Obama was not eligible to run for office.

Cruz meanwhile has hit back at Trump, claiming he is not a true Conservative. The two men go head to head on February 20th in the South Carolina primary, which has become a litmus test for Trump’s insurgent campaign.

Seven days later Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton meet in the state, with Clinton on course to win amongst the state’s more religious and socially conservative voters.

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