Although rumors had been spreading for 27 years that he'd run for president--he'd come pretty close to doing so in 2012--everyone was still shocked by Donald Trump's announcement on June 16, 2015, that he was running for President of the USA. He was seen as something of a joke candidate. Even with his surge to the top of the polls, which was only challenged in November of that year by Ben Carson, he was seen as a temporary challenger in much the same way Michelle Bachmann or Herman Cain had been in the previous election cycle. But Trump infuriated the GOP establishment with his incendiary, often offensive remarks; his policy differences with the traditional Republican platform; and his personal feuds with and digs at Jeb! Bush and other establishment figures. The Donald was a dark horse: nobody saw him coming, and it worked to his advantage. Everyone underestimated the reality-TV star, which allowed him to maintain his dominance over the field and defy the expectations of the political punditry by becoming the GOP nominee. And although pundits and many polls so far have been wrong, conventional knowledge says that the real estate tycoon has no chance at defeating his far-more experienced Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, in November. Maybe that was planned the whole time. 

Although I agreed with much of what Trump said about free trade, and some of what he said about foreign policy, I always felt something fishy was going on behind the scenes. Unlike everyone else running for president among the Republican field, the billionaire didn't seem to care much about abortions or gay marriage until he had to give speeches to evangelicals or until he chose Mike Pence, the conservative Indiana governor, as his running mate. Trump used to be a Democrat, and once referred to Bill Clinton as the best president we'd had out of the 4 most recent ones. In 1998, Donald Trump allegedly told People Magazine that if he were to make a run for president, he'd do it as a Republican because they are the "dumbest group of voters in the country". The following year on Meet the Press, The Donald claimed that "the GOP is just too crazy" as he left the party. Even others who ran for the presidency, along with the party elite, have confirmed what we already know is the truth: Trump is not a true conservative Republican, no matter how much lip service he may pay at times. Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, and Jeb! Bush consistently attacked him for this, yet nobody seemed to care. Fiorina also pointed out another important fact: that shortly before his announcement, Trump received a phone call from former president Bill Clinton, which insiders claim was about politics and the role Trump could play in the GOP. Although Clinton and Trump will deny it, that phone call was most likely about what Mr. Trump loves doing most: making deals. And this one would benefit both him and the Clintons. 

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Donald Trump has been friends with the Clintons for years. In a few interviews given last year, Bill Clinton regularly said that Trump had been "very kind" to his family, pointing out that they'd attended his 2005 wedding to Melania Knauss, received regular donations to the Clinton Foundation, and also to Hillary's senate campaigns. Trump had also praised Clinton's work before as a NY senator, and his daughter, Ivanka, remains a close friend of Chelsea Clinton to this day. Trump may be a Republican, but as he likes to say, he's a common-sense conservative. Why should he care about transgendered people using bathrooms of their choice when ISIS is on the rampage and jobs are leaving America? Trump has regularly ridiculed George W. Bush and other ignorant, establishment-type incompetents (most notably, Jeb!) because, like most Americans, he has no patience for the kind of silliness they bring to Washington. He made the unprecedented move of refusing (initially, though he later caved) to endorse Speaker Paul Ryan or Senators Ayotte and McCain in the battles for re-election. He showed great disdain for John McCain (and went overboard with his comments on McCain's service in Vietnam) and savaged Mitt Romney on several occasions. The truth could be that Donald Trump believes the GOP is suffering a slow, painful death, and his campaign is doing it the mercy or bringing a quick finishing blow to a once great party. As a former Democrat with liberal views on some issues, it's also likely he prefers the leadership of Hillary Clinton and other relatively-centrist Democrats, and so helping them bring an end to the modern GOP as we know it would benefit him. Furthermore, Trump has gained massive publicity (good or otherwise). 

And what would Hillary Clinton gain? Obviously, she would look like a far better alternative to a loudmouthed, inexperienced and offensive political neophyte. She would present the Democratic Party, to independent voters, as one of reason in comparison to a broken and struggling Republican Party. Trump's candidacy would distract the media, and voters, from her email scandal, the Clinton Foundation scandal, and Benghazi. Hillary would have the chance to focus more on dealing with her unexpectedly tough primary opponent, Bernie Sanders, without having to worry about fending off the GOP, which was too distracted by Trump's takeover to launch any kind of meaningful attacks on her the way past "normal" nominees would've. And of course, Trump would throw the Republican establishment into disarray. First, he dealt with foes that would've been far more difficult for Hillary Clinton to handle had they been nominated: the outsider, non-interventionist Kentucky Senator, Dr. Rand Paul, a libertarian with views popular among Millennials on issues like marijuana and defense; and Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a youthful-yet-establishment Cuban-American with a Reagan-esque optimism for 21st Century America. Trump humiliated the awkward Rand Paul in the first two debates, and after Jeb! turned his hundred-million-dollar arsenal of negative ads on Rubio, combined with Ted Cruz's incessant attacks on him for being "pro-amnesty" and Chris Christie crushing him in the New Hampshire debate, Trump made short work of Rubio after several Super Tuesday contests, exposing him as a relatively hollow yet well rehearsed robot for the establishment. By this time, Jeb! Bush and other "typical Republicans" once thought to become the nominees were long gone, and Ted Cruz was left without a hope of victory. On the other side, it became clear that Bernie Sanders would not be the nominee, and that even though Hillary struggled with trust issues among the general public, the idea of President Trump repulsed so many that they would have no choice other than to vote for her. 

Both of the Clintons, along with Trump, are very smart people. Bill Clinton and Donald Trump are very charismatic and can easily appeal to the masses. Hillary has a harder time with this, which even she has admitted. And while she is very knowledgeable on various issues, is experienced, and can appeal to many with the prospect of being the first woman ever to be president, her scandals would hold her back, especially against candidates popular on the other side (Rubio and Paul possibly presenting the biggest threat). This, along with voter fatigue with Democrats and, at the time, a less than stellar approval rating of President Obama, presented a credible threat to Clinton and Democrats in 2016. The solution? For Trump, a reality-TV star that knows how to dominate the media and appeal to the masses, to take over the GOP and make such outrageous and incendiary remarks that people will vote blue--including many disgusted Republicans. It could gift Congress (or at least the Senate) to Democrats, and turn some red or purple states into blue ones, temporarily or otherwise. The result? Hillary gets elected and makes history, Bill is also back in the White House, the GOP is defeated, shattered, and embarrassed to the point where they may cooperate with Democrats, and Trump gets over a year's worth of free publicity. So the 2016 election--Hillary Clinton vs Donald Trump--may not be a matter of friend or foe, but friend AND (even if artificially) foe. 

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