Donald Trump says that he will not run for president of the United States, despite having raised the possibility earlier this year, but maintains he could have won an election.
The 64-year-old New York real estate mogul is also known as the host of NBC reality shows "The Apprentice" had mulled a 2012 presidential run and had said he would announce his decision before June, after the end of the current fourth season of "The Celebrity Apprentice." The finale airs on Sunday.
"After considerable deliberation and reflection, I have decided not to pursue the office of the Presidency," Trump said in a statement obtained by OnTheRedCarpet.com on Monday, May 16. "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," he added. "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."
NBC had said recently that "The Celebrity Apprentice" will return for another season and that the network was prepared to replace Trump if he did decide to run for president in 2012.
Trump had throughout the past few weeks pressed President Barack Obama to release his official birth certificate to prove he was born in the United States and has criticized the U.S. leader and several other public officials over the country's economic woes as well as the handling of the situations in Libya, Iraq, China and Afghanistan.
"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," Trump said in his statement on Monday. "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 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," he added. "Thank you and God Bless America!"
Trump has said last year that he was thinking about running for president in 2012 and laughed off suggestions that he might run with former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who lost a Republican vice presidential bid in the 2008 election.He had suggested running as a Republican in 1988 and eyed a presidential bid with the Reform Party in 1999. In 2007, he floated the idea of making talk show host Oprah Winfrey, now the world's most powerful celebrity, his running mate. Since 2008, Trump has contributed more than $25,000 to campaigns of Democratic politicians and more than $2,000 to former Republican presidential candidate John McCain, public records show. In 2004, he donated funds to campaigns of both Bush and Kerry. The finale of "The Celebrity Apprentice" is set to air on Sunday, May 22 and is down to two finalists - actress Marlee Matlin and country singer John Rich.