Does he mean it this time? Billionaire Donald Trump, the New York-based real estate tycoon and dealmaker, says he is very tempted to run for president as a Republican in 2012 and will decide whether to do so by June.
"I am seriously thinking about it," Trump said on CNN Wednesday night. "I love this country. I hate what's happened to this country. We are a laughingstock throughout the world. We're not respected."
In an interview with Piers Morgan, Trump declared China an "enemy" of the United States and vowed that, if elected president, he would impose a 25 percent tax on all Chinese products. "They want to take over this country economically. They are not really out-competing. They are cheating" by manipulating currency, he said. "They are not our friends."
As president, Trump said he would replace U.S. diplomats with "business leaders" -- the "killers on Wall Street, of which I know every one of them." His people, he said, would not only confront the Chinese but OPEC, which could send gasoline prices to "five, six, seven dollars pretty soon because there's nobody here that calls them and says, 'Fellas, you better not do it.' "
Trump said he liked President Obama personally but believed the Democrat was in over his head at the White House.
Perhaps signaling his seriousness about a possible run, Trump planned to speak Thursday at the opening of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington. The annual event offers a platform for would-be Republican presidential candidates.
Trump flirted with running for president in the 1988 and 2000 campaigns, but didn't follow through. He is unlikely to make any announcement until the current season of his hit show, "The Apprentice," ends on NBC this spring. Financing a campaign would likely not be a problem for Trump, who boasts he has made "hundreds of deals."
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