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Trump not running for president

Businessman and television personality Donald Trump said that he will not run for the White House in 2012.

Real estate mogul Donald Trump will not be a candidate for president in 2012.

The New York businessman bounded onto the scene with explosive rhetoric, catering to the fringe "birther" movement, raising questions about President Obama's place of birth, as well as the president's record as a student. (For the record, Obama was born in Hawaii and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and served as editor of the Harvard Law Review.)

When the president released his long-form birth certificate, Trump took a measure of credit.

Trump rocketed to near the top of national polls and even polled well in a few surveys in New Hampshire. But much of the air was taken out of any potential Trump campaign, when Obama derided him as a "carnival barker," and then (along with comedian Seth Myers) skewered Trump at the White House Correspondents Dinner.

NBC News' Domenico Montanaro talks about the real estate mogul's decision not to be a GOP candidate for the White House in 2012.

"Donald Trump said that he was running for president as a Republican," Myers said. "That's funny, because I thought he was running as a joke."

That may be, but in the March NBC/WSJ poll, Trump was second only to Mitt Romney in the race for the GOP presidential nomination. He pulled in 17% of the vote, tied with Mike Huckabee. Romney led the field with 21%, Newt Gingrich got 11%, Sarah Palin 10%.

What is notable in all this is that the people who pulled in almost half -- 44% -- of support from Republicans in that poll won't likely be running. Huckabee said Saturday night he's out; Trump said so today; and Palin is thought to be unlikely to launch a bid.

That said, national polls don't mean much when it comes to presidential politics. Rudy Giuliani, for example, led in most national polls on the GOP side this time in 2007. They're just a small measure of the energy and buzz around a candidate.

This is the third time Trump flirted with a presidential bid -- once in 1987 and then in 2000. Trump contended in a 2000 George magazine piece, “I’m the only one who makes money when he runs.”

But his business interests were likely at the center of all this. "Celebrity Apprentice" was renewed for next season on NBC, and Trump had to decide if he was going to be back as its host or run for president.

It's not clear, however, what damage may have been done to his show or business interests because of the politics he played. His "birther" statements and his questioning of Obama's prowess in the classroom angered many African Americans. Before he went full bore on the "birther" issue, African Americans had a favorable opinion of Trump in the February NBC/WSJ poll.

Trump's ratings took a dive, according to The Atlantic's Joshua Green, and Groupon pulled its ads from "Celebrity Apprentice."

Of course, most observers never thought Trump would run, because of the requirement that candidates file a financial disclosure form.

Here's the full statement below. More to come.

For Immediate Release:

New York, New York: May 16, 2011

After considerable deliberation and reflection, I have decided not to pursue the office of the Presidency. 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. I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and ultimately, the general election. I have spent the past several months unofficially campaigning and recognize that running for public office cannot be done half heartedly. Ultimately, however, business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector.

I want to personally thank the millions of Americans who have joined the various Trump grassroots movements and written me letters and e-mails encouraging me to run. My gratitude for your faith and trust in me could never be expressed properly in words. So, I make you this promise: that I will continue to voice my opinions loudly and help to shape our politician's thoughts.

My ability to bring important economic and foreign policy issues to the forefront of the national dialogue is perhaps my greatest asset and one of the most valuable services I can provide to this country. I will continue to push our President and the country's policy makers to address the dire challenges arising from our unsustainable debt structure and increasing lack of global competitiveness. Issues, including getting tough on China and other countries that are methodically and systematically taking advantage of the United States, were seldom mentioned before I brought them to the forefront of the country's conversation.

They are now being debated vigorously. I will also continue to push for job creation, an initiative that should be this country's top priority and something that I know a lot about. I will not shy away from expressing the opinions that so many of you share yet don't have a medium through which to articulate.

I look forward to supporting the candidate who is the most qualified to help us tackle our country's most important issues and am hopeful that, when this person emerges, he or she will have the courage to take on the challenges of the Office and be the agent of change that this country so desperately needs.

Thank you and God Bless America!

Donald J. Trump
Michael Cohen
Executive Vice President and
Special Counsel To Donald J. Trump