Real estate mogul Donald TrumpDonald TrumpOhio Republican who voted to impeach Trump says he won't seek reelection Youngkin breaks with Trump on whether Democrats will cheat in the Virginia governor's race Trump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race MORE said Monday that he won’t seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.
After months of intense flirtation with a presidential run, Trump withdrew from the race on the same day that NBC announced it would renew his television show, “The Apprentice,” for another season.
“After considerable deliberation and reflection, I have decided not to pursue the office of the presidency,” Trump said in a statement. “I have spent the past several months unofficially campaigning and recognize that running for public office cannot be done halfheartedly. Ultimately, however, business is my greatest passion, and I am not ready to leave the private sector.”
In typical form, Trump said he was confident he would have won, had he run, but noted that his business obligations came first.
“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,” he said. “I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and, ultimately, the general election.”
The announcement comes one day after NBC executives said Trump would be replaced at the helm of “The Apprentice” if he ran for president. It came the same day as the NBC upfronts in New York — the network’s announcement of its fall television schedule.
Trump’s decision was made near the June deadline he had established for himself earlier this year, when he started to publicly mull a bid for the Republican nomination.
During that time, he enjoyed a burst of support as he waged a media blitz and talked about his suspicion that President Obama might not have been born in the United States.
Obama eventually released his long-form birth certificate as a response to Trump and others who fervidly question whether the president is eligible to serve. Trump took credit for the development, saying he was very proud of himself.
Some polls showed Trump at or near the top of the Republican primary field, though his negatives crept upward as his campaign wore on.
A number of Republicans had openly expressed skepticism of Trump’s upstart candidacy, and conservative groups, including the Club for Growth, started trading barbs with Trump as he appeared to be taking his presidential campaign more seriously.
A few days after Obama released his birth certificate, he and Trump crossed paths at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, where Trump was savaged by both Obama and “Saturday Night Live” star Seth Meyers.
Trump sent an adviser to the key caucus state of Iowa this spring and made two trips to New Hampshire, which hosts the nation’s first primary.
He is the second contender to withdraw from the race in the past few days. On Saturday, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) announced he would not run for president next year. Trump appeared on Huckabee’s Fox News show immediately after Huckabee’s announcement.
The timing of Trump’s announcement is sure to do little to quiet cynics who have maintained that his presidential campaign was all a publicity stunt for the latest season of “The Apprentice.” His announcement comes before Sunday’s season finale, which Trump’s advisers had said would include an announcement of the date, time and location of a press conference in which Trump would announce whether he’d seek the presidency.
Trump’s decision to withdraw also allows him to skirt the financial disclosure documents required of presidential candidates. Trump had said he would have been willing to comply with the disclosure requirements, which would have provided the public with a better glimpse at his personal finances and net worth. While Trump said he would be willing to disclose his personal finances once Obama released his birth certificate, he hasn’t yet, and now won’t be required to do so.
This story was posted at 12:46 and updated at 1:06 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.