Tongues are wagging throughout the world of political insiders with news that former president and potential future first gentleman Bill ClintonBill ClintonLe Pen and the right wing hit a wall in French vote Bill Clinton jokes Clinton Center 'has been bugged' NYT: Comey distrusted Lynch on Clinton MORE had a great chat with Donald TrumpDonald TrumpDems: Trump’s first 100 days full of broken promises to middle class Judd Gregg: Trump gets his sea legs Week ahead: US raises pressure on WikiLeaks MORE shortly before the real estate magnate announced his candidacy for president. Could it be possible that Trump is a plant for Bill and Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonWeek ahead: US raises pressure on WikiLeaks Poll: 85 percent of Clinton supporters would vote for her again OMB director: Government shutdown not a 'desired end' MORE in the presidential campaign, encouraged to run in the GOP primary in order to wreak havoc on the Republicans?
Trump has a history. He has donated substantial money, to his credit, to the Clinton Foundation. He was an important supporter of Hillary Clinton for president in 2008, and was a notable donor to her campaign that year. In the past Trump has offered very high praise for the former secretary of State — especially when he was supporting and helping to fund her presidential campaign in 2008.
The Wall Street Journal recently ran a story naming a number of Democrats in Congress to whom Trump has donated campaign money in support, most notably the next Senate Democratic leader, New York Sen. Charles Schumer. Democrats were also delighted when Trump made campaign donations in support of Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, the current Senate Democratic leader, and Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), a stalwart in the House of Representatives.
I would be remiss in not including two other names on The Wall Street Journal list of Democrats who were beneficiaries of campaign donations from Trump: The late and great Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), and former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.).
This is the context for the widely discussed conversation between Bill Clinton and Donald Trump shortly before Trump announced his candidacy. What could Trump do in the campaign that would help the Clintons the most? First, he would personally attack leading GOP candidates in 2016, using derisive language that would almost surely find its way into Hillary Clinton campaign ads if she were to become the Democratic nominee. Check that box, right? Next, Trump could deeply offend Hispanic voters who widely respect Hillary Clinton already. Check that box, too!
Similarly, if Trump tied the GOP in knots by prolonging the Republican nominating process, and prolonged the process of Republicans attacking Republicans, that would be a huge benefit for Hillary Clinton. Check that box. And to the degree that newer faces in the Republican Party who could become the strongest challengers to the Democratic nominee in November, such as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), found their message drowned out by Trump, the big winner would be Hillary Clinton! Check that box, too.
Of course the grand slam for Hillary Clinton would be if Donald Trump were to run as a third-party candidate in 2016. Remember how H. Ross Perot running in 1992 was vital to the election of Bill Clinton and set the stage for his highly successful and fondly remembered two-term presidency? It would be highly unlikely that this box will ultimately be checked by Team Clinton, but stranger things have happened.
Does this suggest that Donald Trump is a Clinton plant in the current campaign? Of course not, but my tongue is only halfway planted in my cheek by raising this thought, which is delightful for Democrats and deep down must be scary for Republicans.
Whatever Trump’s motivations for entering the 2016 campaign, had Bill Clinton been planting sweet thoughts in his ear before he decided to run, they would have been thoughts about what Trump should do that would help Hillary Clinton the most — the exact things that Trump has indeed been doing!
As for Trump’s long-term praise of single-payer healthcare and his words of praise and donations of support to the Clinton Foundation, Hillary Clinton in 2008, Schumer, Reid, Kennedy, Rangel and Weiner, among others, I would respectfully suggest this: The most interesting presidential debates are not between Trump and the other GOP candidates, but between what Trump says today and what this candidate who claims to “tell it like it is” has said and done over the last three decades!
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Contributors blog and reached at email@example.com.