Washington (CNN) – Donald Trump says he's now flirting with the idea of running as an independent candidate should he fail to win the Republican presidential nomination, a move that, however farfetched, threatens to draw crucial support away from the eventual GOP nominee.
"I think the Republicans are very concerned that I [may] run as an independent," Trump told the Wall Street Journal in comments published Tuesday.
"I am very conservative," he added. "The concern is if I don't win [the GOP primary] will I run as an independent, and I think the answer is probably yes."
The odds have always been stacked against a third party candidate in a presidential race, usually due to a combination of lower name identification, relatively little funding, and a lack of party infrastructure to rely on for get out the vote initiatives.
But Trump – who has already spent years making sure people know who he is and has vowed to spend hundreds of millions of his own fortune if he runs – says he could win without the GOP banner behind him.
"I'm not doing it for any other reason. I like winning."
Meanwhile, top White House aide David Plouffe shrugged off Trump's potential candidacy Sunday, saying there is no way he "would ever be hired by the American people to do this job."
But speaking to Fox Sunday, Trump maintained he is actually the Obama campaign's "worst nightmare."
"I am not the person they want to run against," he said. "They know it, and I know it, and I know it for a fact. Because I have a lot of people that, frankly, are contributors to him and they tell me, 'Donald you are not the person they want to run against.'"
Trump has not led the potential GOP field in any major poll. But a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed "The Apprentice" host and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee are tied for second place with support from 17 percent of likely GOP voters, behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with 21 percent.