This time, Donald J. Trump says, he really means it.
The billionaire real-estate mogul, who has long amounted to a one-man sideshow in GOP presidential politics, said in an interview Wednesday that he is “more serious” than ever about pursuing a run for the White House in 2016.
In recent days, Trump said, he has hired staffers in key primary states, retained an election attorney and delayed signing on for another season as host of NBC’s “The Celebrity Apprentice” because of his political projects.
“Everybody feels I’m doing this just to have fun or because it’s good for the brand,” Trump said in an interview with The Washington Post. “Well, it’s not fun. I’m not doing this for enjoyment. I’m doing this because the country is in serious trouble.”
The moves are the most significant steps yet by Trump, 68, toward a bona fide presidential bid, which he considered briefly and flamboyantly in 2011 before deciding against a run.
The looming question, however, is whether he can convince Republicans that he is more than a celebrity bomb-thrower and instead is sincere in his consideration of a campaign. Trump is slated to appear ahead of former Florida governor Jeb Bush on Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering of conservatives near Washington.
Trump in recent years has served largely as a provocateur on the sidelines of Republican politics, flirting with “birtherism” and making other remarks casting doubt on President Obama’s credentials and love of country. GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney frequently shared the stage with Trump in often awkward appearances during the 2012 campaign, providing ample fodder for Democratic attack ads.
Trump would face steep challenges entering a field that is almost certain to include Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, among a dozen others, including many conservative hopefuls who have built their own networks. But his entry would also bring into the race a colorful contender with deep pockets and a national following – attracting media attention and forcing others to respond to his views.
Read more at the Washington Post.