Birther ringleader and Celebrity Apprentice host Donald Trump just threw his hat in the 2016 pool. Trump launched an exploratory committee to weigh a 2016 run on Wednesday, indicating that his political aspirations are more serious than ever before. Exploratory committees are typically the first step for candidates who want to raise money without the constraints of being an official candidate.
There are a handful of public personalities who, in the interest of maintaining celebrity status, like to flirt with the idea of a presidential campaign. They don't actually intend to seek or hold public office, but they enjoy talking about the possibility. A certain former half-term governor of Alaska comes to mind.
And many political observers, including me, assumed television personality Donald Trump belonged in this category. Sure, he'd keep up appearance and talk about his ambitions, but the idea that Trump would actually become a candidate -- for any elected office -- seems rather ridiculous.
And yet, here's the latest report from msnbc's Jane C. Timm.
The announcement was accompanied by a brief press statement -- complete with four exclamation points -- in which Trump said, apparently in all seriousness, "I am the only one who can make America truly great again!"
He is one of only three Republicans to actually create an exploratory committee this year, following right-wing neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
So, how seriously should the political world take the nascent Trump for President campaign?
I'll go out on a limb and say, "Not very." The television personality has never held any public office; he's never demonstrated an expertise in any area of public policy; and much of the public looks at Trump as something of a clown.
It's probably fair to say his odds of being elected president of the United States are roughly the same as mine (and I'm not running).
What's more, let's not assume that Trump will actually be a candidate. He's formed an exploratory committee and reportedly told NBC he will not renew his contract for his reality television show, but that's not a guarantee. Indeed, 16 years ago, Trump also created a White House exploratory committee, only to back off soon after.
For now, however, Trump is moving forward, along with his campaign aides who used to work for the Koch brothers' political operation
As for whether Republican primary voters have any interest in possibly supporting Trump, his name hasn't been included in any of the recent polling. Four years ago, when Trump also flirted with the possibility of a campaign, he briefly surged to the top of GOP polls in early April 2011, before watching his support evaporate.