NEW YORK — Real estate mogul and reality television star Donald Trump announced Monday he would not seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, breaking off a controversial flirtation with politics.
"After considerable deliberation and reflection, I have decided not to pursue the office of the presidency," he said in a statement. "Business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector."
The developer, 64, had openly flirted with a White House run over over the past few months and made a healthy showing in some public opinion polls despite skepticism and outright mockery among the US political establishment.
Trump drew attention -- and attacks -- by advancing already discredited charges that President Barack Obama had concealed his birth certificate to hide that he was foreign born and thus ineligible for the White House.
But political analysts suggested from the start that Trump, a relentless self-promoter, was chiefly looking to beef up the potential audience for his reality television show and would not run for president.
"This decision does not come easily or without regret," said Trump. "I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and ultimately, the general election."
Trump was the second high-profile potential candidate in days to rule out a Republican White House run after former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, a particular favorite of religious conservatives, said over the weekend that he would not seek the party's nomination.
With many Republicans grumbling that their party's field of candidates lacks a political star to take on Obama, Trump vowed to keep speaking out "loudly" but did not endorse any of the other potential White House hopefuls.
"I look forward to supporting the candidate who is the most qualified to help us tackle our country's most important issues," he said.
Trump also said he was "hopeful that, when this person emerges, he or she will have the courage to take on the challenges of the office and be the agent of change that this country so desperately needs."
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