Donald Trump hints at presidential bid, sort of

By Michael Muskal

Los Angeles Times (MCT)

LOS ANGELES – Guess what television star is floating a political trial balloon (certainly inflated a bit with his own hot air), looking ahead to the 2012 presidential elections? If you said Donald Trump, you win.

The cable airwaves have been chock-a-block with appearances by Trump, the reality television star, real estate developer, celebrity, beauty pageant mogul and self-promoter. He has even injected himself into the recent dispute over a Muslim community center and mosque near the former World Trade Center, destroyed on Sept. 11, 2001, in a terrorist attack.

Trump has offered to buy the site. Just this week, the media was again filled with discussions of Trump after word of a poll in New Hampshire, an early state in the presidential sweepstakes, included questions about Trump, host of “The Apprentice,” now in another season on NBC.

Trump said he was surprised to be included in such a key poll and insisted he was not associated with it in any way. But rather than rule himself out, he was careful to leave the door open for a draft, telling interviewers he was seriously considering a run.

“For the first time in my life, I’m actually thinking about” running for president, Trump told Fox News Channel. He added, “I see what’s going on with this country and it’s never been worse. What’s happening is a disgrace.”

And Trump told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” that his presidential ambitions were somewhat real. “I’ve had so many people over the years ask me to do that. And for the first time in my life, I am absolutely thinking about it,” Trump said. “I don’t know that I’ll do it. It’s probable that I won’t do it, but I can tell you, I’m thinking about it. Somebody has to do something. We are losing this country.”

Trump, of course, went down this road before, in 2000, when he flirted with running on the Reform Party ticket, a minor party that was founded by another tycoon, Ross Perot.