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Donald Trump Jumps Into GOP Presidential Race


Donald Trump is running for president - for real this time. The real estate developer and reality TV star has flirted with running for public office before, only to back down. Republican strategists don't see Trump as a serious threat to win the nomination, but some say his entrance into a crowded GOP field can only hurt the party's image. NPR's Joel Rose reports.

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: Donald Trump is not known for understatement. Neither are the hotels and skyscrapers he's built around the world. And his announcement speech - in the atrium of the Trump Tower in Manhattan - was typically modest.


DONALD TRUMP: I am officially running...


TRUMP: ...For president of the United States.


TRUMP: And we are going to make our country great again.

ROSE: Trump descended down a giant gold escalator with "Rockin' In The Free World" cranked to ear-splitting volume. Hundreds of fans showed up, craning their necks for a glimpse of the businessman-turned-celebrity-turned-reality-TV-star and his unnaturally-yellow hair.


TRUMP: I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created, I tell you that. I'll bring back our jobs from China, from Mexico, from Japan, from so many places. I'll bring back our jobs and I'll bring back our money.

ROSE: Trump's staff distributed written remarks, but he all but ignored them, speaking for 45 minutes seemingly off-the-cuff. He jumped back and forth between domestic and foreign policy. Here's Trump on China.


TRUMP: When was the last time anybody saw us beating, let's say, China, in a trade deal? They kill us. I beat China all the time, all the time.

ROSE: To Trump's supporters, like Sana Latfi (ph) of Pittsburgh, it was a brilliant performance.

SANA LATFI: He has the mind to make money for this country.

ROSE: But Trump's overall poll numbers are not so good. Most polls show him toward the back of a crowded Republican field with support in the mid-single digits. A recent NBC Wall Street Journal poll found that 74 percent of Republican primary voters could not see themselves supporting him.

RON BONJEAN: Donald Trump could have a very negative impact on the Republican primary because he brings a whole sideshow, vaudeville-style act to the stage.

ROSE: Ron Bonjean is a veteran Republican strategist. He says Trump's tendency to say provocative things could be bad for the GOP brand.

BONJEAN: The challenge here for Republicans is that we're trying to reconnect with the American people and make sure that they take us seriously as an alternative to Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump takes away from that. He is not taken seriously. He's viewed as a joke.

ROSE: For example, Trump has gone very public with his doubts that President Obama was born in Hawaii as his birth certificate states. And the provocative comments continued in Trump's announcement speech. He said this about immigrants from Mexico.


TRUMP: They're sending people that have lots of problems and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists.

ROSE: Trump has talked about running for president before, but he's never actually done it. Some political observers presumed that was because he'd have to reveal how much he's really worth. Trump says his net worth is $8.7 billion. That's more than twice what Forbes magazine recently estimated. Trump will have to release more detailed statements to the Federal Election Commission within 30 days. But even then, Bill Allison, at the Sunlight Foundation, says a true picture of Trump's finances may prove elusive.

BILL ALLISON: Once you throw your hat into that ring, you know, there's a whole bunch of laws that are supposed to apply to you, but not all of them are enforced with the same level of rigor. And the financial disclosure is one of those areas where candidates have a lot of leeway to fudge the numbers.

ROSE: Trump joins a crowded Republican field that's getting bigger by the day. GOP strategists are worried he may wind up pushing another more-deserving candidate off the stage in the first Republican debate in August, and to the GOP establishment, that is no joke at all. Joel Rose, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Joel Rose is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk. He covers immigration and breaking news.
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