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Donald Trump launches exploratory committee for presidential run

Donald Trump
Donald Trump
Timothy Clary / AFP / Getty
  1. Billionaire real estate mogul and reality television host Donald Trump announced Wednesday that he was launching a presidential exploratory committee. "I am the only one who can make America truly great again!" he wrote in a statement.
  2. Significantly, Trump has decided not to renew his contract to host The Celebrity Apprentice on NBC, according to Dan Tuohy of the New Hampshire Union Leader. This would potentially clear his schedule for a campaign.
  3. Trump toyed with the idea running for president in 2012, but opted against it. This time around, he's already hired several early state staffers.
  4. However, it is still possible that Trump could explore a bid, but decide not to run in the end. Politico's Dylan Byers reports that NBC is still planning to produce another season of Celebrity Apprentice, but with filming dates undetermined.

Trump won't win but could sap support from the far right

Let's be clear: Donald Trump will not win the GOP presidential nomination, if he does end up running. The party elites who play such an important role in the primary process have absolutely no desire to hand over control of the GOP to a mercurial billionaire who's never held political office before. (Indeed, Trump's most prominent political endeavor until now was his effort to get President Obama to release his birth certificate — which was eventually successful.)

Instead, the effect of a Trump entrance into the race (if it happens) will likely be to sap support from other far-right bomb-throwers, like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Dr. Ben Carson. Trump's genius for self-promotion could win media attention — and as a well-practiced star of reality television, he could perform well during the debates. The voters he's most likely to attract will be staunch conservatives, not Jeb Bush supporters.

Interestingly, in recent weeks, Trump has hired two staffers formerly affiliated with the Koch brothers' political operation, as the Washington Post's Robert Costa reported. Cory Lewandowski, who was Americans for Prosperity's voter registration director, would manage Trump's presidential campaign. Alan Cobb, formerly a Koch Industries adviser, will also join Trump's team.

This post was updated to reflect breaking news.