He might run. No he won’t. He might run. No he won’t.
For nearly 30 years and during at least four election cycles, Donald Trump teased the American public that he might run for president of the United States.
To standing-room-only crowds in tiny New Hampshire restaurants to viewers of “Meet the Press,” he told anyone who would listen that he could win if he ever ran.
So no wonder in late May the New York Post ran a story under this headline: “Stop pretending — Donald Trump is not running for president.”
But after all that hemming and hawing — some might call it braying — the Donald Trump campaign train has finally left the station. Trump, who announced his candidacy on June 16, is now leading national polls of GOP voters. Here’s the stop-and-go path his campaign has traveled.
Trump detractors can blame it all on a guy named Mike Dunbar, a Republican activist in New Hampshire, the first to float the idea of a Trump presidential run.
Dunbar was unhappy with the Republicans’ White House hopefuls for the 1988 elections — including Vice President George Bush and Sen. Bob Dole — calling them “duds.”
In businessman Trump, Dunbar saw a man who could handle something big like the federal deficit. Never mind that Trump was a Democrat at the time.
“Every project that I know he's ever undertaken, he's come in under budget and ahead of time,” said Dunbar.
“If we had a guy like that running the country, and who could delegate that sort of expertise to the Pentagon, I think we could make some real inroads into the financial problems the country has.”
When the national media heard that Dunbar was collecting signatures to recruit Trump, stories about a possible Trump presidential run took off.
Said Trump’s spokesman: “At this time, he has absolutely no interest in seeking political office or running for president of the United States.”
And yet Trump flew by helicopter to New Hampshire at Dunbar’s invitation. He arrived at a Portsmouth restaurant in a stretch limousine and spoke before an enthusiastic, standing-room-only crowd of hundreds.
He sounded like he does today — brash, tough-talking, take-no-prisoners. The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote that he spoke “with the rhythm of a Borscht Belt comedian.”
Trump said that he wanted a “tough, smart cookie” running the country so the United States would not be pushed around by its allies or enemies.
“The Japanese, when they negotiate with us, they have long faces,” he said, according to the Inquirer’s account. “But when the negotiations are over, it is my belief — I've never seen this — they laugh like hell.”
Trump has said that “it really was because of that speech that this whole thing started.”
Dunbar’s “Draft Trump” effort never got off the ground.
In an early October interview with Larry King, Trump announced that he was launching a presidential exploratory committee. Someone new was bending his ear: Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura, a member of the Reform Party founded in 1995 by Ross Perot.
But Trump sounded decidedly more reluctant than excited at the prospect.
“I have a lot to lose. I mean, I’m the biggest developer in New York by far,” Trump told King. “I'm doing more, as you know from being here a lot, I'm doing more than any — I’m building 90-story buildings all over the place. And we're just doing a lot, and we're doing great. I mean, the city is the hottest city, and I’m the biggest developer in the hottest city in the world right now.
“Other guys, you know, they run. Pat Buchanan, what is he — you know, he's not giving up anything. What's he doing? And politicians, when they run, they run from one office to another, it’s the same thing. They, you know, answer different calls. I’m giving up a lot if I decide to run.”
Later in the month Trump joined New York’s Independence Party, the state’s version of the Reform Party.
He said on “Meet the Press” that his experience as a casino owner and real estate developer would help him run the country.
He told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that Oprah Winfrey would make a great running mate. But she wasn’t interested.
In February, Trump eventually decided not to run because, he said, the Reform Party was so fractured by infighting that he wouldn’t have a chance to win the presidency as its nominee.
Though he had withdrawn from the race and did not campaign in the state, Trump was among five candidates listed on the Reform Party’s primary ballot in California in June. He won with 15,311 votes, 44 percent of the total.
Trump said he was “very seriously” mulling another presidential run. Instead, he launched a TV series on NBC, “The Apprentice.”
More talk about a run. Just talk.
Trump made a surprise appearance at the first day of the Conservative Political Action Conference and said he hadn’t ruled out trying to win the Republican nomination for president. Media described Trump’s speech, most of it touting his business credentials, as rather surreal.
“This country is in serious trouble,” Trump said, adding that the United States “is becoming the laughingstock of the world. … America is missing quality leadership. I am well acquainted with winning.”
A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll showed Trump leading all presidential contenders.
Trump publicly questioned whether President Barack Obama was born in the United States and called for him to release his long-form birth certificate, which he eventually did. The news dominated several days of the news cycle, along with growing speculation that this time, Donald Trump just might be a serious presidential contender. And then …
He announced that he wasn’t ready to run just yet.
“I have spent the past several months unofficially campaigning and recognize that running for public office cannot be done halfheartedly,” he announced. “Ultimately, however, business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector.”
But if he were to run, he said, he would win.
Trump announces his 2016 presidential campaign in an unscripted speech from his lavish Trump Tower on New York City’s Fifth Avenue.
He starts with a bang, insulting Latinos by saying that when Mexico sends its people to the United States, “they're not sending the best. They're not sending you, they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists and some, I assume, are good people, but I speak to border guards and they’re telling us what we’re getting.”