New York businessman Donald Trump made it official Monday - he will not be a candidate for U.S. president next year. Trump is the second big-name Republican to decide against a White House bid in the last few days and his decision adds yet another element of uncertainty to the slow-forming field of Republican presidential contenders.
Trump announced his decision in New York as the NBC television network rolled out its program lineup for next season, including Trump’s highly rated program “The Celebrity Apprentice.”
“I’ve decided that we are going to continue onward with Celebrity Apprentice, we are going to continue making lots and lots of money for charity. I will not be running for president, as much as I’d like to, and I want to thank everybody very much. Thank you very much," he asid.
Trump also issued a statement that said his decision did not come easily or without regret, but that business was his greatest passion and that he was not ready to leave the private sector. Trump added that had he decided to run, he is convinced he could have won the Republican Party nomination and the presidency next year.
Trump had a rapid ascent in public opinion polls earlier in the year when he began his flirtation with a presidential run. Trump excited conservative activists with his attacks on China, OPEC and what he felt were bad international trade deals for the United States. “If I run and if I win, this country will be respected again," he said.
Trump’s major focus early on was questioning the legitimacy of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. But last month the president released the original long form of his birth certificate and polls indicate the issue had faded, and that is when Trump’s poll ratings began to dip as well.
Quinnipiac University pollster Peter Brown says recent surveys showed that Trump and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin have some serious image problems with the public. “Palin and Trump, on the other hand, because almost six in ten voters say that they would never vote for them, would seem to have very, very small odds of becoming president of the United States," he said.
Trump’s decision not to run comes on the heels of the announcement by former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee that he will not be a candidate in 2012. Huckabee was consistently at or near the top of public opinion polls among potential Republican contenders, and the top spot now belongs to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
Georgetown University political scientist Stephen Wayne says there is a great deal of uncertainty about the Republican field at the moment. “It certainly says something about the absence of a frontrunner at this point on whom Republicans are agreed and it also says something about the impact that celebrities seem to have on the American political process," he said.
Those Republicans definitely in the race include former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Congressman Ron Paul. Others who have taken initial steps toward a run include former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum.
The decisions by Trump and Huckabee to pass on the 2012 race could increase pressure on two other prominent Republicans who have yet to announce their intentions for next year, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.