NEW YORK - After months of flirting with politics, Donald Trump said Monday he won't run for president, choosing to stick with hosting The Celebrity Apprentice over a bid for the Republican nomination.
"I will not be running for president as much as I'd like to," Trump said.
Trump's office released a formal statement just as he was taking the stage. In it, a confident Trump said he felt he could win the Republican primary and beat President Barack Obama in the general election but had come to realize a presidential campaign could not be run half-heartedly.
"Ultimately, business is my greatest passion, and I am not ready to leave the private sector," Trump said.
Several Republicans are seeking the nomination in a race that lacks a clear front-runner. Among the top hopefuls are former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The GOP is still waiting to hear whether Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin or Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann will get in the race.
Trump amassed admiration from many on the far right who have insisted Obama was born overseas and, thus, wasn't eligible to serve as president.
Obama finally distributed his long-form birth certificate earlier this month, indirectly casting Trump as a carnival barker and the controversy as a sideshow.