If Donald Trump doesn't really want to be president and doesn't want to lose the election, the Republican National Convention is his best change to walk away as a hero to the GOP rank and file.
Ever since Trump became the GOP frontrunner there has been a great deal of speculation from a number of quarters about whether or not the Donald really wants the job of President of the United States.
The argument, in a nutshell, goes something like this: Being President is a whole lot of actual work, for very little reward. The Presidency pays just $400,000 per year, plus some generous expense accounts.
That is a decent salary to be sure, but not for a billionaire like Trump. It is roughly double what a doctor makes and pales in comparison to the average salary of a Fortune 500 CEO (roughly $10.5 million in salary, bonuses and benefits).
The presidency also requires real work: 20 hours/day, 7 days/week and always being on call. Even on vacation, between briefings, meetings and phone calls, a US President probably puts in an 8 hour day on average.
Also, people aren't very nice to you. Sure the President gets respect, at home and around the world but every minute of every day someone somewhere is angry with you about something. All in all this just doesn't sound like the kind of gig that Donald Trump would really want.
Maybe, he got into the race for some free publicity, expecting that the Republican establishment would find a way to defeat him. Maybe he accidentally tapped into a deep vein of anger in the Republican party. At any rate he hasn't done much to discourage such speculation. He has refused to rule out simply walking away from the job if he wins and has talked at length about starting a TV network after the election.
At the same time, Trump hates to lose. He doesn't want to go down in history as a "loser." So, if he doesn't want the White House and doesn't want to lose his best strategy might be to walk away, in a very high profile way with a national audience watching. An opportunity to do this is coming up in just a few days at the Republican National Convention.
Trump could wait until the "Never Trump" protests start at the RNC and then declare that, for the sake of party Unity and to defeat Hillary Clinton, he was removing his name from consideration. He could then throw his weight behind Mike Pence. If Republicans went along and Pence was the nominee, Trump would almost own him.
Whatever the outcome of the election, Trump would walk away a winner.
If the GOP lost, Trump could say that they would have won if they'd united behind his candidacy. If the GOP won he could claim that he gave them that victory by making a personal sacrifice at the RNC.
Trump would be a hero to a generation of Republicans, including many who voted against him and his tv network would take off like a rocket, stealing a good slice of the Fox news audience (including some of its best known figures such as Newt Gingrich and presumably Bill O'Reilly.
Trump would be a huge power broker within the Republican Party with the ability to make or break candidates and policies and he would make vast amounts of money without having to do much work. That scenario sounds like it fits within Trump's wheelhouse much better than being president does.
All of this is obviously speculation but 2016 has been a strange year and it only seems to get stranger as we go.