NY's GOP delegation not sold on Trump

New York-area Republicans aren't sold on Donald Trump's nascent presidential campaign, dismissing him as more of a self-interested publicity hound than a serious contender for the GOP nomination.

Trump, a real estate mogul who's spent a considerable amount of his career redeveloping property in New York City and surrounding areas, appears not to have won over the Republicans who might be more familiar with him and his decades' worth of tabloid coverage in the nation's largest city.

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Trump is a "master of public relations" and "one of the best self-promoters in the world," but a serious presidential candidate he is not, say some Republican members of New York's congressional delegation.

"I don't know if he needs this to boost his ratings or what," said Rep. Pete King, the New York delegation's senior Republican, of Trump's flirtation with a 2012 bid. "But I know he enjoys being on the national stage."

New Yorkers are "used to Trump making a lot of noise," the lawmaker added.

The host of NBC's "The Apprentice," Trump would likely have to step away from the business empire he's built in order to contend for the nomination, King noted.

"I just don't see how he could give up everything," he said. "And there's a big difference between Trump Tower and campaigning on a freezing night in New Hampshire."

The doubt over whether Trump is serious about waging a 2012 bid, according to King, emanates from the businessman's reputation as a "master of public relations."

Trump started seriously toying with a bid for the Republican nomination in early 2011, starting with his appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in February and sustained media presence since then.

"The Donald" has made waves with bombastic claims about his own politics, and with his open suspicion that President Obama might not have been born in the U.S. But while many observers hadn't taken his possible campaign seriously, April polls have suggested that Trump's gained support from Republican voters to such an extent that he's toward the top of the field of candidates vying for the GOP nomination in 2012.

But Trump's traction has yet to sway some of the lawmakers whose support — or, at least, absence of objections — could clear the way for him to seriously contend for the nomination.

"The problem with Donald Trump is that he's one of the best self-promoters in the world, so is he just promoting himself, or is he real?" asked freshman Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.).

If Trump is serious about 2012, Grimm said, his past offers plenty of ammunition for the opposition.

"All the bankruptcies, all the people that have lost money yet he didn't," said Grimm. "I think there's a lot of baggage that he would bring and because of his background and his ability to promote himself, you just don't know if he's real."

Trump filed for corporate bankruptcy in 1991, 1992, 2004 and 2009, according to reports. When The Wall Street Journal, in an April interview, asked how that qualified him to run the nation's economy, Trump told the paper that he used Chapter 11 laws to negotiate corporate debt deals.

Trump's spokesman, Michael Cohen, an executive vice president for Trump's company, strongly disputed the characterization by the Republicans and echoed Trump's statement on the bankruptcies.

"Mr. Trump has stated on many occasions that he, along with other well-known and respected business leaders, have all used the bankruptcy laws of this country to reduce debt for the benefit of their companies," Cohen said in a statement. "It must be noted that the Chapter 11 filings were for a publicly traded company to which Mr. Trump was merely a shareholder."

"As to the comment on baggage, all great and successful businessmen come with some form of baggage; that’s the nature of the business," Cohen added, emphasizing that Trump's decision on whether to run would come by June.

Other GOP members of the state's congressional delegation declined to question Trump's motivations, but appeared hesitant about a potential Trump bid. 

"I'm just gonna stay out of that one," freshman Rep. Tom Reed (R) said.

Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, another freshman Republican, likewise shrugged off Trump's presidential ambitions.

"Did Donald Trump announce a presidential campaign?" she asked with a smile before saying she's focused on her work in Congress and not the 2012 Republican primary.

The skepticism of Trump's candidacy crosses party lines, as well.

"It's hard for anyone to take this seriously, Democrat or Republican," New York Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop said. "He seems to be focusing at this point on a single issue, which is the birther issue, and that, I think, simply disqualifies him as a serious candidate."