Conservative Sen. Bob Smith was never expected to win the Republican presidential nomination. But with his recent television announcement, Smith delivered an unwanted body blow to the GOP, reports CBS News Correspondent Phil Jones.
"I'm going to take the floor of the Senate and announce that I'm leaving the Republican Party [to] become an Independent," Smith said Monday night on CNNÂ's Larry King Live.
Smith told CBS This Morning Tuesday that his biggest problem is not with the Republican Party platform, which he still supports.
Â"My concern is that candidates and those who wish to lead our party, especially in the presidential election, are walking away from the issues,Â" Smith said. Â"We have become a party of pollsters and consultants, letting pollsters lead us around. ThatÂ's not what leadership is.Â"
Smith dismissed criticism that he is leaving the GOP because he was behind in the polls, particularly in his home state of New Hampshire, where he showed 1 percent support.
Â"I came into the Republican Party many years ago, on principle," Smith said. "IÂ'm leaving on principle because pollsters and consultants are setting the agenda for our party in place of the leaders taking a tough stand on the issues and debating the issues before the American people.Â"
Smith said he still intends to run for president. He said he is in discussions with the Reform Party and the Taxpayer Party Â— which got less than 200,000 votes in the last election Â— and that he would have some announcements in the near future as to which group he will join.
Meanwhile, speculation heightens on Pat Buchanan's eventual defection from the GOP.
Â"I just think the Republican establishment is doing its best right now to almost force a fracture in the GOP,Â" Buchanan said.
All this Republican infighting is serious business to the likes of Buchanan and Smith.
Now, Donald Trump has issued a statement saying while he has not decided to become a candidate, if the Reform Party nominated him he would probably run and win. And if he won, he would ask for an immediate recount. Trump claims he's just kidding.