“It’s something that if circumstances were right I would do,” he added in an interview before the Brooklyn Nets took on his Mavericks.
The remarks are Cuban’s latest flirtation with national politics, a subject he toyed with leading up to and after the 2016 presidential election. He began that election season friends with Donald Trump and laughing off his campaign proposals, but as Trump became the Republican front-runner and then a serious competitor with Hillary Clinton in the general election, Cuban stumped for the Democratic ticket.
After Trump won the election, Cuban, 60, publicly discussed pursuing the office as well, but he has remained noncommittal. Here’s how Cuban’s thoughts on a presidential run have changed over time:
July 2014: ‘Hell f------ no’
In 2014, CNN’s “Crossfire” co-host S.E. Cupp asked Cuban whether he’d consider running for president. Cuban had a simple and unequivocal response: “Hell f------ no.” He voiced support for then-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (who announced Tuesday he wouldn’t run for president in 2020) — “I would certainly like for him to consider”; trashed Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) — “Dogma is not a solution”; and said the United States should legalize marijuana and release prisoners incarcerated for cannabis-related crimes.
Sept. 2015: ‘If it was me versus Trump, I would crush him’
Cuban gave mixed messages about his electoral intentions on the same day in 2015. First, CNBC published an email exchange in which Cuban said running for the presidency was “a fun idea to toss around. If I ran as a [Democrat], I know I could beat Hillary Clinton. And if it was me versus Trump, I would crush him. No doubt about it.” If he did run, he said, he’d focus on inequality, college debt, taxes and cyber security.
“How we deploy bytes and the superiority of our national hackers is far more important than bombs or bullets,” he said. “You want to stop a bomb? Hack it.”
But by the end of the day, he had backed away from the idea.
“I think I can have a bigger impact right now in doing a lot of the other things I’m doing,” he said on CNBC’s “Closing Bell.” “I’m invested in over 100 small businesses, and I go and talk to school kids. There are so many ways I think I can impact society. I just don’t have the temperament, at least not at this point, to be a politician.”
May 2016: ‘Never Trump’ conservatives try to draft Cuban
The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker and Robert Costa reported a group of anti-Trump conservatives were desperately trying to convince like-minded national figures to mount a third-party challenge to prevent Trump from winning the general election.
The group, which included Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), conservative commentators William Kristol and Erick Erickson, and strategists Mike Murphy, Stuart Stevens and Rick Wilson, first approached Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who had recently withdrawn from the Republican primary.
They also turned to Cuban, another businessman and reality TV figure, “for someone who might out-Trump Trump.”
“I don’t see it happening,” Cuban wrote in an email to The Post.
“He could come after me all he wanted, and he knows I would put him in his place,” Cuban said of Trump. “All that said, again, I don’t see it happening. There isn’t enough time.”
Later that week, Cuban told “Meet the Press” he would “absolutely” consider being Clinton’s running mate, if asked.
“If she’s willing to listen, if she’s willing to, you know, hear other sides of things, then I’m wide open to discussing it,” he said.
March 2017: ‘Sometimes you got to do what you got to do’
Two months after Trump’s inauguration, the Mavericks traveled to Washington to play the Wizards. Before the game, Cuban told The Post that he had no interest in running for president in 2020, then hedged.
“None. None,” he said. “But at the same time, sometimes you got to do what you got to do.”
But, after campaigning with Clinton and going over the election results, he said he had a better idea of why Trump was victorious.
“My friends in Texas, who I never would have thought would have voted for Donald Trump, would say: ‘You know what, Mark? I’ve voted for politicians my entire life. They’ve done nothing for me. This situation I’m in, they’re not going to do anything for me. . . . So why would I vote for a politician again?’ That wasn’t a part of the calculus when I looked at who might win.”
Aug. 2017: “I’ve got a lot of time to decide”
Rich Eisen of NFL Network asked Cuban again about a presidential run on his radio show, and again he wasn’t sure if the job was for him.
“I wouldn’t put it high on my list of probabilities, but we’ll see what happens,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of time to decide. It’s flattering that people ask me, and I appreciate it and there’s definitely a leadership void in this country. But I’m not jumping in.
"I’m a big believer that you don’t just [run for president] to try to pretend to be a politician. You have to have solutions, and I’m working on some projects that if I think they can turn into solutions, then yeah, I’ll do it. If I don’t think I have the right answers, then I won’t.
Oct. 2017: “If I was single, I’d definitely be running.”
Cuban told the Atlanta Journal Constitution he was “seriously considering” an independent run for the presidency but that he was keeping his family’s input in mind.
“If I was single, I’d definitely be running,” he said.
He said he was in favor of a smaller government and thought he could be part of “a health-care solution.”
“If you look to politicians for solutions, you are always going to be disappointed,” he said.
Later that month, he said in a Fox News interview that, if he ran for president, he would do it as a Republican.
“I think there’s a place for somebody who’s socially a centrist, but I’m very fiscally conservative,” he said.
But he tamped down speculation about his run by saying the likelihood that he’d challenge Trump was a 4 out of 10.
Nov. 2017: Bannon advises Cuban to run as a Democrat
Early in the month, Cuban told a crowd at the New York Times DealBook conference that, if he ran, he’d likely do so as an independent, but if he had to choose a party, he’d join the GOP. He argued that the value of an unaffiliated candidacy, according to CNBC, was that he could time his entrance to the race so that he could gain enough support to make it to the debates but avoid a messy fight during primary season.
But the Daily Beast reported later in the month that former Trump chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon advised Cuban to run as a Democrat, saying his centrist platform, outsider status and name recognition could help him stand out in a crowded field.
“They talk regularly,” Sam Nunberg, a former Trump adviser and Bannon deputy, said. “They’re very similar. They have a lot of synergy there. Even when [Steve] went to work for Trump, Mark would be interviewed and say nice things about Steve.”
March 2019: Cuban renews the speculation
Cuban stayed away from talk of his political aspirations during 2018 in the aftermath of an investigation by Sports Illustrated that alleged Mavericks executives covered up workplace sexual misconduct.
But March 4, in an interview with the New York Daily News, Cuban said he was again considering an independent bid to challenge Trump.
“I haven’t decided anything yet. We’ll see what happens. It all comes down to how things play out,” Cuban said. “It’s not something I feel like I have to do. There’s a lot of uncertainty with what’s going on with the Mueller report; there’s a lot of things that have to be figured out before we know how 2020 is going to play out. But it’s something that if circumstances were right I would do.”
He said the already-crowded Democratic field was getting pulled to the left and not doing enough to attract voters disillusioned by Republican control of government.
“If you look at the Democrats right now, there’s like a Democratic gravity that pulls all the candidates to the same point,” he said. “And it’s very difficult to show leadership in a situation like that because you can’t truly lead if you have to find an equilibrium between being a true leader for the people of your country versus getting elected in your primary. None of those things are conducive to out-and-out leading the country.
“You can see it right now with the Democrats. They’re pushing hard for Democratic votes, but they’re doing nothing to try to bring independent and Republican voters aboard. "
He added: “A big chunk of voters, Republican voters, still want someone who is not a politician. And you’re not getting that from anyone in the Democratic Party.”
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