The Donald Trump Conspiracy Theory

Did Democrats Put Donald Trump Up to Running for President in 2016?

Donald Trump
Some Republicans believed Donald Trump's unlikely 2016 presidential campaign was a Democratic ploy to make other GOP candidates look bad. Jason Davis / Getty Images Stringer

Donald Trump's improbable, inflammatory and circus-like campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination is a Democratic ploy to make mainstream GOP candidates look bad and hand the White House to Hillary Clinton.

At least that's one theory of why the billionaire Trump entered the crowded race, the largest field of Republican presidential candidates in modern history. Lots of conservatives believe it, and they have some pretty good reasons to be suspicious, including Trump's well known ties to the Clinton family.

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So is Trump a "phantom candidate," as one Republican member of Congress has claimed? Or is he a serious candidate who is wreaking having on the GOP field of presidential aspirants with his outrageous comments and leaving a twisted wreck of collateral damage in his wake? 

Let's take a look.

Donald Trump Conspiracy Believers

Some conservatives suspected Trump was acting on behalf of the Democrats, and in particular the Clintons, as soon as he announced his campaign. Among the most outspoken were antiwar activists Justin Raimondo and Republican U.S. Rep. Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Miami.

Wrote Raimondo on his blog:

"Although I have no concrete proof of my theory, there’s plenty of circumstantial evidence. His ties to the Clintons, his past pronouncements which are in such blatant contradiction to his current fulminations, and the cries of joy from the Clintonian gallery and the media (or do I repeat myself) all point to a single conclusion: the Trump campaign is a Democratic wrecking operation aimed straight at the GOP’s base.

"Donald Trump is a false-flag candidate. It’s all an act, one that benefits his good friend Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party that, until recently, counted the reality show star among its adherents. Indeed, Trump’s pronouncements – the open racism, the demagogic appeals, the faux-populist rhetoric – sound like something out of a Democratic political consultant’s imagination, a caricature of conservatism as performed by a master actor."

Curbelo, the Congressman from Miami, also believed Trump was working on behalf of Democrats.

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Said Curbelo:

“I think there’s a small possibility that this gentleman is a phantom candidate. Mr. Trump has a close friendship with Bill and Hillary Clinton. They were at his last wedding. He has contributed to the Clintons’ foundation. He has contributed to Mrs. Clinton’s Senate campaigns. All of this is very suspicious.”

Curbelo's comments drew fire from the Democratic Party in Florida, which urged the lawmaker to "take off his tinfoil hat." "Curbelo's bizarre claim is an insult to the intelligence of his constituents and goes to show just how much damage Trump is doing to the Republican Party's brand. Unfortunately for Curbelo, Trump is only gaining in the polls," the party said.

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Writing for the National Review Online, John Fund opined:

"Just maybe Trump is a double agent for the Left. He is nearly a cartoon version of what a comedian such as Stephen Colbert considers a conservative — the kind of conservative Colbert played on Comedy Central until this year. He reinforces all the Left’s negative stereotypes of conservatives as ignorant blowhards."

Fund, unlike Curbelo and Raimondo, determines Trump wasn't acting as a double-agent.

"I don’t believe Trump is a double agent acting in the interests of liberals to discredit conservatism. But (to borrow some phrasing from Trump’s conspiracy vocabulary), he is playing the useful idiot for the Left. He might as well be doing it on purpose."

So what kind of evidence do Curbelo and Raimondo have on Trump and the Clintons?

Evidence Donald Trump Was a Democratic Plant

The Donald Trump conspiracy theory was perpetuated by conservatives who took issue with the candidate's previous life as a registered Democrat; his comments about undocumented immigrants "bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists;" his many campaign contributions to the Clintons, which he casually dismissed; and his telephone chat with former President Bill Clinton just before announcing his campaign for the Republican nomination.

The Washington Post, citing unnamed Trump allies, reported on the phone call:

"The call came as Trump was making a final decision about whether to run, and he was candid about his political ambitions and his potential interest in seeking the White House during the talk ... One person with knowledge of Clinton’s end of the call said the former president was upbeat and encouraging during the conversation."

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Murse, Tom. "The Donald Trump Conspiracy Theory." ThoughtCo, Aug. 23, 2016, thoughtco.com/donald-trump-conspiracy-theory-3367568. Murse, Tom. (2016, August 23). The Donald Trump Conspiracy Theory. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/donald-trump-conspiracy-theory-3367568 Murse, Tom. "The Donald Trump Conspiracy Theory." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/donald-trump-conspiracy-theory-3367568 (accessed November 18, 2017).