President Trump? Billionaire considering 2012 run

In this photo taken March 9, 2011, Donald Trump arrives at a Comedy Central Roast in New York. Though Trump's presidential prospects drew laughs when he was roasted by several stand-up performers the 64-year-old real estate tycoon insists he is serious, rejecting skeptics' claims that he's using the publicity to draw viewers to
In this photo taken March 9, 2011, Donald Trump arrives at a Comedy Central Roast in New York. Though Trump's presidential prospects drew laughs when he was roasted by several stand-up performers the 64-year-old real estate tycoon insists he is serious, rejecting skeptics' claims that he's using the publicity to draw viewers to "Celebrity Apprentice," the NBC network reality program he co-produces and hosts. Trump says he'll make a decision by June on whether to join the field of GOP contenders vying to challenge Obama in 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes) (Charles Sykes - AP)
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By BETH FOUHY
The Associated Press
Saturday, March 19, 2011; 4:22 PM

NEW YORK -- Donald Trump boots contestants off his TV show with a famous two-word catch phrase: "You're fired." He may want the chance to say the same to President Barack Obama.

The real estate tycoon with the comb-over hairdo and in-your-face attitude plans to decide by June whether to join the field of GOP contenders competing in 2012 to make the Democratic incumbent a one-term president.

Trump insists he's serious. He rejects skeptics' claims that he's using the publicity to draw viewers to "Celebrity Apprentice," the NBC reality program he co-produces and hosts.

"The ratings on the show are through the roof. I don't need to boost the ratings," Trump told The Associated Press in a recent interview. "But the country is doing so badly. I wish there was someone in the Republican field I thought would be incredible because that's what we need right now."

If he runs, Trump would follow a well-worn path of wealthy businessmen who have sought the White House before. Recent examples include Christian Broadcasting Network founder Pat Robertson in 1988, tech mogul Ross Perot in 1992 and publishing executive Steve Forbes in 1996.

Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire New York City mayor, also has hinted at national political ambitions even as he says he won't enter the race.

Trump is prepared to spend as much as $600 million of his personal fortune on the race. "Part of the beauty of me is that I'm very rich," he told ABC's "Good Morning America."

He flirted with presidential campaigns in 1988 and 2000, but never did run.

So what makes the 2012 race any different?

Several political operatives in Washington and elsewhere say privately that Trump has reached out to them repeatedly in recent weeks to learn about the mechanics of running a campaign, asking questions about how much money he would need, what type of an organization he would have to build - and whether he could win.

Publically, Trump has taken several steps to suggest he's not joking.

He delivered a well-received speech to the Conservative Political Action Committee conference last month in Washington. He's done interviews with reporters in Iowa, the first-in-the-nation caucus state, and is planning a trip in June to leadoff primary state New Hampshire for a presidential candidate's rite of passage - appearing at a political breakfast series called Politics and Eggs. Last week, Michael Cohen, one of his top business advisers who is running a draft-Trump website, met with GOP activists in Iowa.


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© 2011 The Associated Press

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