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Donald Trump features 12th in a Reuters/Ipsos online poll of 13 Republicans who have either declared their candidacies or are likely to. Photo: Reuters
Donald Trump features 12th in a Reuters/Ipsos online poll of 13 Republicans who have either declared their candidacies or are likely to. Photo: Reuters

Donald Trump enters US presidential race

Flamboyant real estate mogul promises to bring back jobs and manufacturing to the US if he wins election

Billionaire television personality and business executive Donald Trump formally began his Republican presidential campaign on Tuesday, saying that the US “has become a dumping ground for other people’s problems".

“Our country needs a truly great leader, and we need a truly great leader now," said Trump. “We need somebody who can take the brand of the United States and make it great again."

“So ladies and gentlemen, I am officially running for president of the US," Trump told a crowd at Trump Tower, one of his trophy properties. He promised “to bring back our jobs, to bring back our manufacturing," and to be “a great cheerleader".

“I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created," he said. “I’ll bring back our jobs and I’ll bring back our money."

Trump’s view of America is the opposite of Ronald Reagan optimism.

“Our country is in serious trouble. We don’t have victories any more," Trump said. “When did we beat Japan at anything," said Trump, citing auto sales but apparently forgetting World War II. In a rambling speech, Trump catalogued what he described as humiliations of the US by foreign countries, running the gamut from terrorism to immigration. Some of his comments sugges-ted he would keep the state dep-artment busy: He repeatedly foc-used on China—“They are killing us"—and said Mexico is sen-ding “rapists" across the border.

It was the kind of incendiary rhetoric that has given the real estate mogul-turned-reality TV star the kind of celebrity that will almost certainly win him a coveted slot on the first televised debate of the presidential race in August which, Fox News will determine by poll position.

“My father is the opposite of politically correct," his daughter, Ivanka, said in introducing him. “He says what he thinks and he means what he says."

In a year when many candidates are running on populist themes, Trump took an opposite tack, at least in terms of optics. He made his announcement in the lower floor of the building where he lives and works, next door to Tiffany’s and overlooking Central Park. The lobby features a restaurant and ice cream parlour bearing his name.

Trump bragged about the lavish staging of his event, insisting that he had better air conditioning than other candidates did at their announcements. “How can they beat ISIS?" he said. He also promoted his real estate holdings. “I have the best courses in the world," he said, adding that US President Barack Obama would be welcome to play on them if he would leave the White House early.

The real-estate mogul and host of NBC’s The Apprentice has flirted with presidential runs from the 1998 to 2012 elections, but each time has decided against it. This becomes his first campaign for public office.

He is chairman and president of the Trump Organization. His net worth is at least $1 billion, and he told Bloomberg on 3 June that he is worth $10 billion. The son of a real-estate developer, Trump took control of his father’s firm in the 1970s and has refashioned and expanded the company with skyscrapers, golf resorts, and other properties in New York, Miami, Chicago and Honolulu.

Trump has worked assiduously to formulate and catapult his personal brand, putting his name on products from pageants to restaurants to books to vodka to steaks to menswear. In 2004, he filed a trademark application for the phrase “You’re fired," the line with which he flashily closed each episode of his TV show.

Trump, who turned 69 on Sunday, has supported candidates of both major parties through campaign contributions, including Republicans John McCain, George W. Bush, Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich and Democrats John Kerry, Chuck Schumer, Ted Kennedy, Joe Biden, Harry Reid and Kirsten Gillibrand, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics.

He has given between $100,000 and $250,000 to the family foundation of 2016 Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, according to the foundation’s website.

Trump has earned a reputation as one of Obama’s most outspoken critics by questioning his place of birth and eligibility to hold the office. While considering a campaign in 2011—at one point even enjoying a favourability rating rivalling that of eventual nominee Mitt Romney, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll—Trump said he had sent investigators to Obama’s birth state of Hawaii to investigate the president’s citizenship.

When Obama released his long-form birth certificate in April 2011, Trump took credit for pushing the matter. “I’m really honoured, frankly, to have played such a big role in hopefully, hopefully, getting rid of this issue," he said. The next month, he said he would not run.

In the latest Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register Iowa Poll, from the end of May, Trump was the first choice of 4% of likely Republican caucus-goers, tying him in ninth place with New Jersey governor Chris Christie.

A Bloomberg Politics national poll conducted in April painted Trump as a severe long shot, with 62% of self-described Republicans and independents saying they would never consider voting for Trump.

To win a place on the stage for the first official Republican primary debate in August, hosted by Fox News, Trump would need to place among the top 10 candidates in the field based on an average of the five latest national polls. His national name recognition could help propel him there.

Trump has indicated his business record would be the basis for a 2016 campaign. “Americans deserve better than what they get from their politicians—who are all talk and no action!" he said in a statement announcing the formation of an exploratory committee in March. “I have built a great company, created thousands of jobs and built a tremendous net worth with some of the finest and most prestigious assets in the world—and very little debt!" Bloomberg

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