The reality television star announced his decision Monday in a statement but suggested the race would have been largely his for the taking.
“This decision does not come easily or without regret; especially when my potential candidacy continues to be validated by ranking at the top of the Republican contenders in polls across the country. I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and, ultimately, the general election,” he said. “I have spent the past several months unofficially campaigning and recognize that running for public office cannot be done half-heartedly. Ultimately, however, business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector.”
He was pressured to make the decision before the season finale of his NBC reality show “Celebrity Apprentice.”
Prominent GOP officials — Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad among them — have encouraged Republican presidential hopefuls to step up their game recently. And there are signs that prominent Republican donors have been reluctant to commit to candidates given the slow pace with which the field is coming together.
Trump offered these final words:
“I look forward to supporting the candidate who is the most qualified to help us tackle our country’s most important issues and am 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.”