Trump quits race for president
Tycoon's support slumped after Obama 'birther' controversy
BILLIONAIRE Donald Trump announced last night that he will not be running in the 2012 presidential elections.
The real estate magnate used his star power as a television celebrity to publicly flirt with a campaign, even though it was never entirely clear whether he was a Republican.
Mr Trump, who announced his decision in a written statement yesterday, was the loudest of many voices to call into question whether President Barack Obama was really born in the United States, becoming the unofficial leader of the "birther" movement.
The host of 'Celebrity Apprentice' in the US suffered a major blow when Obama produced a longer version of his birth certificate that was further proof of what most Americans had already decided -- that the president was born in Hawaii in 1961.
When Mr Obama hammered home the point with some well-timed jabs at the White House Correspondents Association annual dinner, Mr Trump was forced to endure humiliating laughter while sitting in the audience as a dinner guest.
"No one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald. And that's because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter -- like, did we fake the moon landing?" Mr Obama said at the time.
But Mr Trump said in his announcement that he believed he would have won if he had decided to run.
"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," he said.
Mr Trump's support for the Republican nomination fell from 26pc in April to just 8pc in early May.
He said his decision followed "considerable deliberation and reflection" after weeks of unofficial campaigning.
"I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and ultimately, the general election," Mr Trump said in a statement, adding that he was "not ready to leave the private sector".
Remaining Republican hopefuls include former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, who was speaker of the House of Representatives in the 1990s.