In Donald Trump's final 24 hours as president, there were published reports of rumors he would resurface as leader of a third political party known as the "Patriot Party."
Trump himself fueled talk of transforming his movement into a third party when he told supporters as he left Washington: "We will be back in some form."
But would a third party led by a former president with a fervent national following be a lasting force in national politics?
If history is a guidepost, then it certainly would not.
No less than three former presidents attempted comebacks to the White House as leaders of third parties and all crashed and burned. The parties they led died before the next election.
In 1848, former President Martin Van Buren broke with the Democratic Party of which he had been a founding father and became the presidential nominee of the Free Soil Party. Running on a strong anti-slavery platform, Van Buren drew 10% of the vote nationwide and came in second in New York — enough to keep Democrat nominee Lewis Cass from winning and tipping the election to Whig nominee Zachary Taylor.
Former President Millard Fillmore in 1856 carried the presidential standards of the American and Know Nothing Parties, both of them taking hard-line stands against immigrants. Fillmore placed a distant third behind winning Democrat James Buchanan and first-time Republican nominee John C. Fremont. He carried only the electoral votes of Maryland.
Easily the most famous third party movement led by a former president was the Progressive Party — or "the Bull Moose Party," as its candidate Theodore Roosevelt nicknamed it upon accepting its nomination in 1912 and declaring he was "fit as a bull moose."
Denied the Republican presidential nomination in favor of incumbent President William Howard Taft, T.R. went on to actually come in second in the fall contest ahead of Taft but behind Democrat and winner Woodrow Wilson.
The Progressives fared badly in the 1914 midterm elections and Roosevelt told a friend it was time "to go back to the Republican Party You cannot hold a party like the Progressive Party together. There are no loaves and fishes [a reference to the miracle described in the gospels]."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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