owner chairman Mark Cuban thinks he could have beaten both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in a presidential election. He thinks he’d be eminently qualified for the office. He recently confirmed he’s “actively considering” a candidacy in 2020, though at present he pegged the odds of him mounting a run at about 10 percent.
Despite those low odds, though, Lachlan Markay and Asawin Suebsaeng of The Daily Beast reported Friday that the 59-year-old Cuban — who stumped for Clinton in the 2016 presidential race and has long publicly sparred with President Trump, but who has also complimented Trump’s willingness to “say what’s on his mind” and said he would’ve considered a spot on Trump’s ticket had one been offered to him — has been discussing the possibility with Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon:
[Cuban] downplayed the interactions in an email exchange with The Daily Beast, saying merely that he “texted with [Bannon] a few time[s]” and that none, he believed, had “been more than one full sentence.” But according to four sources familiar with their conversations, the two have been in touch for months about a possible 2020 bid. Bannon, these sources say, has encouraged Cuban to run and to consider doing so as a Democrat, seeing it as a realistic path to a viable presidential run.
“They talk regularly,” said Sam Nunberg, a former Trump adviser who is close to Bannon. “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.”
Bannon is a former investment banker and Hollywood producer who ran the white nationalist media organization Breitbart News, which he termed “a platform for the alt-right,” for more than four years before being appointed the chief executive of Trump’s presidential campaign in August of 2016. After Trump’s election, the president-elect appointed Bannon his chief strategist and senior counselor.
Bannon left the White House this past August, following multiple reports of in-fighting with other Trump advisers and the president’s first two chiefs of staff, Reince Priebus and John Kelly. He quickly returned to Breitbart, and has worked in recent months to promote candidates for elected office whose beliefs and approaches run counter to those of the existing Republican establishment — candidates like Alabama Judge Roy Moore, a Senate hopeful who now stands accused of pursuing and initiating sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl in 1979, when he was 32 years old.
Cuban — who has said that if he chose to run in 2020, he’d do so as a Republican to take on Trump in a primary race — offered a brief response to the story on Twitter on Friday afternoon:
But read the article. He is doing it via media interviews https://t.co/HGC2Ns4kUx
— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) November 10, 2017
On Friday evening, though, Cuban told CNBC that the prospect of a presidential bid “did not come up” during his interactions with Bannon:
“Nope. Not even remotely close,” the Dallas Mavericks owner said.
On Thursday, Cuban publicly said he is considering running for president as an independent, depending on whether his wife and family would endorse it. The “Shark Tank” panelist added that he would prefer to run as a Republican rather than mounting a bid as a Democrat.
Cuban would “absolutely not” run as a Democrat, he said.
Cuban’s tweet likely referred to a recent TMZ chat in which Bannon suggested Cuban would be better served by running as a Democrat in 2020 than opting for a primary battle against Trump. It’s worth noting that he and Bannon met face-to-face in New York shortly after Trump’s election. Cuban “would not go into details about what the two discussed then,” according to the Daily Beast, but he said that Bannon has not personally and specifically told him he should run as a Democrat.
“I learn from people who disagree with me,” Cuban said during an appearance on Breitbart’s SiriusXM Radio show in March. “I want people to challenge me. That’s how I get smarter. That’s how I learn.”
It’ll be interesting to see whether Cuban faces any disagreement from those around the Mavericks and the NBA over his choice to communicate with an operative like Bannon.
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