New York real estate mogul and reality TV star Donald Trump on Tuesday declared himself a candidate for the Republican nomination for president, launching his against-the-odds campaign after teasing one for years.
“I am officially running for president of the United States,” Trump said from inside his signature Trump Towers in midtown Manhattan. “We are going to make our country great again.”
Trump flirted with a White House run in 2012 but ultimately did not enter the race. Though Trump is a first-time political candidate, he has become an influential voice in conservative political circles. He has spoken at political events in early-voting states, and makes frequent appearances on Fox News, among other outlets.
Trump has for months shown signs that he intended get into the White House race this time.
He has formed a presidential exploratory committee and has made numerous visits this year to early-voting states Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Also, he has remained competitive in early polling.
Trump said he will file a financial statement showing his net worth is $8.73 billion, though several of his ventures have declared bankruptcy. All president candidates are required to file a financial disclosure.
The 69-year-old Trump joins the field of 11 other GOP candidates, with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker expected to enter the race in mid-July and several other hopefuls still considering. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced his bid a day earlier.
Most polls have Trump in the top 10 in the field of Republican candidates and hopefuls, which would qualify him for the nationally televised GOP primary debate in August hosted by Fox News.
His unabashed businesses success will likely position him as a candidate riding a strong free-market, pro-business platform. It would also set him apart from candidates pitching a populist message, and trying to make themselves relatable to middle-class voters.
Trump, who was born in Queens, inherited his father’s successful real estate company in 1972 and has since grown and diversified the business to include Trump Entertainment Resorts as well as a clothing and fragrance line.
Trump’s extravagant lifestyle and brash manner is frequently on display during episodes of his long-running ABC TV show, “The Apprentice,” which the network in February approved for another season.
Trump, popularly known as “the Donald,” married for the third time in 2005 and has a total five children and seven grandchildren. He attended the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.