THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Trump will not pursue presidency in 2012

By Chris Cillizza
Washington Post / May 17, 2011

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WASHINGTON — Wealthy businessman Donald Trump said yesterday he won’t seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, bringing an end to the circus-like speculation that had surrounded the reality star’s political future in recent months.

“I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and ultimately, the general election,’’ Trump said in a statement. “Ultimately, however, business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector.’’

Trump’s decision brings to an end a political rollercoaster ride on which the flamboyant celebrity pushed the debate over whether President Obama was born in the United States into the public eye, rose as high as second place in polling on the 2012 race, and was on the receiving end of a fusillade of jokes from the president during last month’s White House Correspondents Dinner.

Trump’s hand was probably forced by NBC’s decision to renew “Celebrity Apprentice’’ for another season. That meant Trump had to choose between his interest in presidential politics and his career as a reality television star. He chose the latter.

Trump is the second candidate in three days to take a pass on the 2012 Republican presidential race. Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, announced his decision not to run on his eponymous television show Saturday night. Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana is expected to decide on whether to run by the end of the month.

Trump has been here before. In 1999, Trump appeared to be an all-but-certain candidate for the Reform Party presidential nomination before bowing out. In 2008, Trump’s name was floated as a potential candidate.

His flirtation with the race this time had all the indications of a publicity ploy rather than a serious endeavor — beginning with Trump’s decision to focus almost exclusively on the already-settled debate over Obama’s US citizenship.

When Obama released his long-form birth certificate last month, Trump — on a trip to the early primary state of New Hampshire — touted his victory; “I’m very proud of myself because I’ve accomplished something that nobody else has been able to accomplish,’’ he said.

Even that self-proclaimed “success,’’ however, belied mounting evidence that whatever support the idea of a Trump candidacy had engendered had begun to fade. Polling suggested that vast swaths of the electorate did not think Trump had the right experience to be president or shared their values.

And, he was publicly flogged by Obama and “Saturday Night Live’’ star Seth Meyers at last month’s White House Correspondents Dinner — a roasting that Trump took with a stony-faced glare even as the assembled crowd roared with laughter.

There was evidence that Trump was seriously considering a run. He huddled with a handful of well-regarded campaign consultants to discuss the prospect of running and had trips scheduled to South Carolina later this week and Iowa next month.

Trump’s decision not to run is likely to be greeted with relief by most Republican Party strategists, who viewed the billionaire as a major distraction for the more serious contenders for the nomination.