By Alex Pappas
Donald Trump’s critics have long accused him of perpetually flirting with running for the White House because he is an egomaniac who has never had any real intention of ever becoming a real candidate.
But on Tuesday, the New York real estate mogul and reality show host did what those people said he would never do: he announced that he is actually running for president.
“I am officially running for president of the United States, and we are going to make our country great again,” Trump said during his announcement at Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York.
Trump, who hosts NBC’s “The Apprentice” and owns the Miss USA pageant, spoke at a podium with American flags behind him Tuesday.
After declaring his candidacy, Neil Young’s song “Rockin’ In The Free World” briefly played at the event before Trump continued speaking, vowing to be “the greatest jobs president that God ever created.”
Trump said he will seek the Republican nomination for president. As he announced his candidacy, Trump aides released the details of his finances, a summary that shows him with a $8.7 billion net worth.
The summary says he has assets totaling $9.2 billion and liabilities totaling $502 million.
Trump, who in recent months has hired staffers in Iowa and New Hampshire, becomes the 12th Republican to enter the race for the White House. He is headed to Iowa for an evening event Tuesday, and then will fly to New Hampshire for an event Wednesday.
His entrance follows several cycles where Trump said he was thinking of running for president, but ultimately decided against it: he said he was considering running in 2000 for the Reform Party’s presidential nomination. He also flirted with running as a Republican in 2012.
According to the Real Clear Politics national polling average, Trump is in ninth place among the Republican presidential candidates, polling at just 3.6 percent. To be included in some of the nationally-televised debates for first-tier candidates, Trump will have to remain in the top 10 in national polling.
While a popular figure on the early primary and caucus state circuit, Trump will have a variety of problems in a Republican primary, including his outspokenness against the party and its positions and his contributions to Democrats over the years. Trump also doesn’t fit the mold of a traditional Republican candidate, having been married three times.