SALEM, New Hampshire – He’s flirted with White House runs before, but this time around Donald Trump is taking actual steps toward a presidential run. Just ask him.
The real estate mogul and reality TV star told political reporters Monday that “I’ve made up my mind” when it comes to running for the White House, and will unveil that decision sometime in June or July.
Trump made his comments after speaking to a large group of business leaders in Salem, New Hampshire, his first stop in a packed itinerary of events in the first-in-the-nation primary state.
“We have to make our country rich again. And when we do that, we have to make our country great again. And there’s nobody running for office that can do that other than if I run, and if I run I guarantee you it will be done," he said. “If I go, and there’s a real good chance of it, believe me, you’ll be very happy."
While Trump has notoriously flirted in the past with a White House run, this time around, he’s taking concrete steps toward launching a campaign. He's formed a presidential exploratory committee and hired veteran campaign strategists and operatives in New Hampshire and other early voting primary and caucus states. And he’s currently in the process of opening campaign offices in Manchester, Iowa and South Carolina.
The real estate tycoon has also been making numerous trips to early voting states -- Monday's visit marked his third to the Granite State alone since the start of March. On Wednesday, he’ll be back in Iowa for his third visit in the past few months to that critical caucus state.
Trump said Monday he’ll continue to criticize others in the Republican 2016 field. “I will talk the way I want to talk. I’m letting people know. They all know it’s true... I know everyone running. I’m the only one, if I run, that can make this country great again. I know that."
And when it comes to financial disclosure, Trump says he’ll open the books.
“I will disclose my records. I will disclose everything. And I tell you what: People will be very, very, impressed,” he said. “If you remember, even before I decided to run last time I put in my financials and everybody was shocked. And when they looked at them they said wow, what a great job he’s done. Well let me tell you, they’re much better now.”
Asked by an audience member about how he’ll tackle border security and immigration reform, Trump touted his building expertise. “I will build the best wall, the biggest, the strongest, not penetrable, they won’t be crawling over it, like giving it a little jump and they’re over the wall, it costs us trillions," he said. "And I’ll have Mexico pay for the wall. Because Mexico is screwing us so badly. I will take it from out of just a small fraction of the money they’ve been screwing us for over the last number of years.”
As expected, Trump criticized President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton, but he also attacked some of his likely rivals for the GOP nomination, slamming Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida over the issue of immigration reform.
“You know, Rubio was very much in favor of doing the whole thing with amnesty and everything. All of a sudden he was shooting down like a dropped rock and he changed his stance entirely,” Trump said. “Rubio is very, very, weak on immigration.”
He also continued his criticism of former Florida governor Jeb Bush. “Bush is weak on immigration and he’s heavy in favor of Common Core, and I say the last thing we need is another Bush,” said Trump.
After his event at the Tuscan Kitchen restaurant in Salem, Trump headed to a meeting at the VFW in Hudson. Later, Trump spoke at New England College in Henniker. He was scheduled to take questions in the early evening from Republican activists at a “Politics and Pie” event at the Snowshoe Club in Concord, and speak with several news organizations, including NH1 News and the Washington Post.