WASHINGTON — He’s blunt. He’s brash. And he hopes Americans will put a reality TV star in the White House. Developer Donald Trump wants to add the White House to his brand.
Billionaire Trump, famous to Americans for his vintage New York bluster, glamorous wives, business empire and TV show “The Apprentice,” told Fox television Monday he is “incredibly tempted” to run for the White House.
And as a rebranded Republican who has switched party affiliation a few times over the years, Trump, 64, may well see an unexpected opening as Republicans have not yet put forth a candidate with broad-based party backing.
“I’m tempted, because of what I see with the United States. We are a laughing stock, a whipping post. Look at the trade agreement we made with South Korea. They didn’t even want to sign it. They wanted it to be better,” Trump said on Fox television. “I’m incredibly tempted.”
“And it was only when North Korea attacked them that all of a sudden they said we will sign and we sent our ships over to protect them,” Trump said.
“Why aren’t they paying us for protection? We have troops in England, Germany, we have tremendous numbers of troops in South Korea. Why are we doing this?” asked “the Donald,” as US tabloids love to call the ginger-haired son of an American developer and a Scottish immigrant mom.
Pressed as to why he may run now, New Yorker Trump said “I love this country. I hate what it is happening to this country…. Now, China is ripping us off. We are rebuilding single-handedly China, because we buy so much of their product. What is going on is insane.”
He has frequently taken aim at China’s breakneck growth, a populist message at a time of US economic sluggishness and high unemployment.
“You go to China you see these cities rising out of nothing. Of course, it is worldwide money, but it is really this country’s money is rebuilding China. But we can rebuild our own cities,” he told Fox, adding that he would make a decision by June. Some analysts say he could spend 200 million dollars of his own money on his bid.
Asked about potential Republican rivals, Trump, who toyed with a run back in 1999, told Fox: “I know many of them. And they are nice people. But can they do the job? Perhaps not.”
Yet it does not look like smooth sailing to a Republican presidential nomination for Trump, analysts said.
“I think it is highly unlikely Trump will be the (Republican) nominee,” said Larry Sabato, a political analyst at the University of Virginia.
“In his career, Trump has been a registered Republican, then a Democrat, then an Independent …, now a Republican again. He has been all over the map on social issues like abortion. These things alone will likely keep him from winning the 2012 nomination,” Sabato said.
As Trump eyes his chances, “this reality also hurts candidates like Sarah Palin,” the former Alaska governor and failed 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, Sabato noted.
“Trump would stir the pot and add a lot of color to the mix, and he has the money to self-finance a solid campaign. But he isn’t going to get the Republican party’s top prize,” Sabato argued.