(CNN)Since the moment late on November 8, 2016 when it became clear that Donald Trump would be the 45th president of the United States, many Democrats have been counting the days until November 3, 2020 — the day that they believe he will be voted out of office.
Which may well happen! There’s no question that Trump is an underdog for a second term right now, with former Vice President Joe Biden leading in key swing states as well as nationally.View Trump and Biden head-to-head pollingBut even if Democrats do get their wish in 144 days, it’s not at all clear that they (or the country) will be rid of Trump — not just as entity in our culture, but potentially as a presidential candidate. Again.Trump would be entirely within his Constitutional rights to do so. While a president can only serve two consecutive four-year terms (although Trump has “jokingly” floated breaking that limit!), there’s no law against a president coming back to run for the office after losing a bid for a second term.Read MoreIn fact, it’s already happened once in our history! Grover Cleveland was elected president in 1884 but lost to Benjamin Harrison in 1888. (Harrison won the Electoral College while Cleveland won the popular vote. Sound familiar?) Unbowed, Cleveland beat Harrison in 1892, becoming both the 22nd and 24th president.When you consider Trump’s inability to admit defeat and the very real possibility that he never actually concedes to Biden if he loses, the idea of him running again — or not ever stopping running — starts to make a lot of sense. Yes, there is already an active effort within the GOP to be the next Donald Trump, the inheritor of the political coalition built by the billionaire businessman during his hostile takeover of the Republican Party.But everyone knows that Trump believes himself to be a great man of history, the sort of person who can’t be replicated or duplicated. He tells anyone who will listen that the 2016 campaign was among the greatest ever run. He compares himself favorably to the likes of our greatest presidents. (“I’ve always said I can be more presidential than any president in history except for Honest Abe Lincoln, when he’s wearing the hat,” Trump said in 2019.) He insists that his administration has produced the “greatest” economy in history (it hasn’t) and that he has done more in his first term than any president ever (impossible to check or prove).
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Does that sound to you like the kind of guy who, if he could have a chance at being president again, would take a pass, preferring other people to give it a try? Uh, no.People who dismiss the idea of Trump running again if he loses in 2020 are many of the same folks who spent the first two years (or more) of Trump’s first term insisting that he wouldn’t seek another four years, that he didn’t ever think he would win and that he didn’t really want or like the job.Nope! That line of thought misses this central piece of Trump’s character: He has spent a lifetime pushing his way into the limelight. He was a relentless seeker of attention (he created a fake staffer named John Barron to leak whispers of his attractiveness to women to the New York tabs!) and a lifelong quester for the approval of elites (despite his insistence to the opposite.)Being president is the most exclusive club in the world. It’s the biggest spotlight in the world, every single day. It’s wall-to-wall media coverage. It’s attention, relevance and deference all rolled into one. It’s what Trump has wanted forever.So having had it and potentially losing it would do what for Trump? Make him do absolutely anything to get it back, right? To once again stick it to the people who counted him out, who cheated him, who schemed and conspired against him.And given his tight grip on the current Republican Party, who would be able to seriously challenge Trump for the nomination if he made clear he wanted it? Answer: No one. As for concerns about Trump being too old to run for president again in 2024? He’d be 78 in June of that year — making him four years younger than a potential President Joe Biden would be! (And not for nothing, Bernie Sanders ran for president in 2020 at the age of 78).Will this all come to pass? Maybe not! Trump may well make a comeback — as he did in 2016 — and win a second term. Maybe he decides being president is too bad for his business (Trump claimed without proof in 2019 that being president had cost him between $2 billion and $5 billion). But knowing what we know about Trump and the current state of the Republican Party, there’s plenty of evidence pointing to the notion that even if Trump loses in 2020, the country is far from done with him.