MSNBC host Joe Scarborough told The New York Times on Tuesday that he is not considering a presidential run in 2016, despite speculation to the contrary. "I’m not running, and I’m not considering running," he said. "I’m not making any Shermanesque statements, but I do not expect that to change." Did Scarborough catch a case of the Trumps?
Not exactly. While the Morning Joe host has said the speculation about him jumping into the race is "fun," he's been a lot more measured than Donald Trump was in 2012. For one, he's open about the fact that presidential chatter helps raise his profile. At the Northeast Republican Leadership Conference in New Hampshire last weekend, he told The Atlantic's Molly Ball that being included in the NRLC straw poll would've helped him promote his recent book. "I could have gotten some good press, you know?" he said. "The reception was good, I was signing some books. It was very positive." (MSNBC asked NRLC organizers to remove his name from the straw poll to avoid any conflict of interest.)
Scarborough has also held public office before. Trump, despite "running" for various offices over the years (most recently for Governor of New York), has never made it through a campaign. Scarborough served three-and-a-half terms in office as a Florida congressman in the 1990s. He joined MSNBC in 2003.
Still, before Tuesday, Scarborough was not denying his interest in the presidency. Back in February, he told radio host Hugh Hewitt, "I won't rule anything out" when asked about 2016. In his interview with Ball, he said he would definitely get back into the game at some point: "Ever since I got out of politics, people have asked me if I'm going to get back in. The answer is yeah, at some point I'm going to get back in. It just hasn't been the right time yet." So the Times denial is a sharp turnaround. But he explains that he wants the speculation to stop because Morning Joe could be harmed when guest politicians "start thinking I’m going to put on a shield and pick up a sword and start fighting in their arena."
Trump, for his part, let his fake 2012 presidential campaign go on for months. When he dropped out long before the Iowa caucus, he claimed he would have won the whole shebang: "I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and ultimately, the general election." He said the same thing when he dropped out of the governor's race earlier this year — "I have clearly stated that if the New York State Republican Party is able to unify, I would run for Governor and win." This is baloney and Trump knows it. It's Scarborough's comparative pragmatism that makes him seem more sincere. He has a passion for politics, while Trump has a passion for himself.
And Scarborough's self-aware enough to realize that people could compare him to The Apprentice star. He told the Times explicitly, "I’m not Sarah Palin, and I’m not Donald Trump. I don’t need to stir the speculation. I have more influence sitting at the table where I’m sitting, and enjoy a much better lifestyle than I ever would getting back into public office." He might enjoy the speculation, but he knows when to quit.