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Has Donald Trump's presidential run been canceled?

May 05, 2011|By James Oliphant | Washington Bureau
  • Donald Trump speaks at the Comedy Central celebrity roast in his honor in March in New York.
Donald Trump speaks at the Comedy Central celebrity roast in his honor in… (Andrew H. Walker / Getty…)

American commandos eliminated Osama bin Laden this week. Did they also liquidate Donald Trump's presidential run?

A week ago, Trump was riding high. President Obama had been forced to go on television to confirm for the world what most of it already knew: that he had been born in the United States. True to his nature, Trump claimed credit -- and immediately embarked on a tour of New Hampshire in what seemed like a victory lap, as he talked incessantly about running for president.

But there's an old axiom in Washington: The more time the media -- and everyone else -- become consumed by silliness by, as Obama might put it, "sideshows and carnival barkers," the more likely something serious will come along to wipe the whole business away. Perhaps it's just a form of karmic payback.

Or more simply put: maybe the curtain was finally yanked away. When the target of a decade-long worldwide manhunt is brought down, reality-show antics and birth-certificate debates lose their power to grip, assuming they had ever held that power in the first place.

Some new poll results support the notion that Republicans' flirtation with the Donald could be waning. A survey conducted by Quinnipiac University showed that 58% of Americans surveyed said they wouldn't vote for Trump for president under any circumstances. That's what's known in polling circles as a big number. (Only 9% said they were "enthusiastic" for a Trump run; ostensibly the media weren't polled.)

The same percentage of those surveyed similarly said they wouldn't vote for Sarah Palin, which might be an even more shocking figure, one that illustrates how much her popularity has eroded beyond her fervent base of support.

"Sarah Palin and Donald Trump suffer from the reality that, as our mothers told us, 'You never get a second chance to make a first impression,'" said Peter Brown, assistant director of the university's polling institute.

A Rasmussen poll out Thursday stated that just 15% of those surveyed said they believe that Trump is serious about seeking the presidency, while most said they think he's a publicity hound. And his favorable rating has dropped below 30%.

Some Republicans strategists greeted the Bin Laden news with the hope that it will sober voters up and focus them on more serious candidates as the presidential race begins to gain some steam. Such a focus likely would not inure to Trump's benefit. He will not be on the dais Thursday evening in Greenville, S.C., for the first official Republican presidential debate -- although, to be fair, few contenders will be.

And the president will in Trump's backyard Thursday, laying a wreath at the site of the demolished World Trade Center. Trump isn't invited.

Trump has largely been silent this week, other than congratulating Obama and the U.S. military on a job well done and picking a fight with David Letterman. His moment in the limelight could well be over, although knowing him, he won't surrender it without a squawk. After all, there's still "Celebrity Apprentice" to promote -- and we're all dying to know whether Meat Loaf will beat out LaToya Jackson. We're only human.

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