Donald Trump attends South Florida Tax Day Tea Party Rally on April 16, 2011 in Boca Raton, Fla. (Photo by Larry Marano/Getty Images)
Billionaire real estate tycoon and reality TV star Donald Trump announced Monday he will not run for president in 2012.
“This decision does not come easily or without regret; especially when my potential candidacy continues to be validated by ranking at the top of the Republican contenders in polls across the country,” Trump said in a statement.
“Ultimately, however, business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector.”
In typical Trump bravado, he went on to predict that he would have won both the Republican nomination and the general election should he have opted to run.
Trump’s hand appeared to have been forced by NBC, which broadcasts his “Celebrity Apprentice” show. The network had said it would have a decision Monday about whether the program would return for another season next fall.
Monday’s decision comes after months of actions on Trump’s part that hinted at a potential bid for the GOP nomination, including a surprise speech at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, and a visit to New Hampshire last month that came the same day President Obama released his long-form birth certificate.
Trump took credit for the development, saying he was “honored to have played such a big role in hopefully, hopefully getting rid of this issue.”
“We do not have time for this kind of silliness,” said Mr. Obama the day the White House released the long-form birth certificate. “We’re not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers,” the president added, a line seen as a not-so-subtle dig at Trump.
While Trump’s repeated questioning of the president’s birth certificate helped win him plenty of media attention and saw him soar to near the top of the GOP field in a handful of early polls, the businessman’s stock had plummeted in recent weeks as the nation’s attention moved to issues such as the killing of Osama bin Laden and the flooding along the Mississippi River.
A Gallup poll released late last month found that 64 percent of voters said they would definitely not cast a presidential ballot for Trump.