NEW YORK — Donald Trump, the flamboyant U.S. real estate magnate and television personality who says his net worth is about $9 billion, has announced a longshot bid for the presidency on the ticket of the Republican Party.
Known in the U.S. as The Donald, Trump is a celebrity, a businessman and a master of self-promotion. He will be entering an increasingly crowded presidential race competing for the party’s nomination, including such big names as former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who is the son and brother of two former U.S. presidents.
“Sadly, the American dream is dead,” Trump said. “But if I get elected president, I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before, and we will make America great again.”
Trump made the announcement Tuesday in New York City before a small crowd of supporters, some wearing campaign shirts saying “Make America Great Again!” and “No More Career Politicians.” In his well-known bombastic style, he mixed boasts about his wealth with promises to defeat effortlessly the Islamic State group and negotiate trade deals with China.
In a free-ranging 40-minute speech he also boasted about his ability to fortify the border with Mexico to prevent “rapists” from entering the U.S. (“Nobody builds walls better than me”) and invited President Barack Obama to play golf at one of Trump’s courses.
Trump has teased presidential runs before, but has always backed out. This is time he is the 12th high-profile Republican to enter the 2016 race, with more to come in the weeks ahead.
And while he is not viewed as a front-runner, Trump is doing just well enough in early public opinion polls that he may earn a place on stage during Republican presidential primary debates.
After the rally, Trump flew to Des Moines, Iowa, to meet supporters at a rally in the Midwestern state whose caucuses leadoff the state-by-state nominating contests.
Trump’s announcement drew immediate scorn online from a series of Republicans, who fear he will turn an otherwise serious Republican primary contest into a circus.
“I just apologized to my toddler for bringing him up in a country where Donald Trump runs for Prez, gets better than 2% in the polls,” veteran Republican strategist Liz Mair tweeted.
The Democratic National Committee was just as sarcastic on Twitter, saying that Trump “adds some much needed seriousness that previously been lacking” from the Republican Party.
As part of the campaign Trump is required to reveal his net worth, sources of income, liabilities and assets, as well as the same information for his wife and dependent children. Trump said Tuesday he is ready to do that, pegging his net worth at roughly $9 billion.
Trump has withdrawn from “The Celebrity Apprentice,” the TV reality show he could not continue once he announced as a presidential candidate.
Singer Neil Young, a Canadian whose song “Rockin’ in the Free World” was part of Trump’s announcement, issued a statement saying it was an unauthorized use and that Young supported Vermont independent Sen.Bernie Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic nomination.