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Donald Trump says he might run for president. Three reasons he won't.

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Alex Brandon/AP

(Read caption) Donald Trump gestures while addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington on Thursday, Feb. 10.

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Donald Trump says he is seriously thinking about a presidential bid. Of course, he’s said that in past election cycles and then stayed on the sideline. But this time maybe the developer/reality show star actually will throw his hair into the ring. The 2012 GOP field doesn’t have any clear-cut favorites, after all. He could run as the business-experience candidate.

He’d be like Mitt Romney, without the baggage of having signed a Massachusetts health-care bill that looks a lot like today’s Republican target, President Obama’s health-reform law.

We hope he runs. Can you imagine what great stories he would generate? We’re already making plans to cover the first GOP debate that includes him. Trump, plus maybe Sarah Palin, and perhaps Michelle Bachmann, too. Nirvana.

The Top 10 political quotes of 2010

Trump gave a preview of the sort of energy he’d create during his Thursday surprise address to the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference meeting in Washington. The crowd loved him. Trump said he’d decide whether to run by June. The main reason he might, he said, is that “the United States has become a whipping post for the rest of the world.”

At one point, he said he wished there was another candidate he could support. Somebody from the audience shouted “Ron Paul!” Trump leaned over the mike, and said, off-handedly, “I like Ron Paul, I think he’s a good guy, I think he has zero chance of getting elected”.

This led to muttering among the Paul supporters in the hall. It’s also just the reason why a Trump candidacy could be so great – no other candidate would be as willing to veer off-script.

Trump at CPAC said he is pro-life, anti-gun control, and will fight to end Obama's health-care law. Also, he won’t raise taxes. All in all he sounded like someone actually thinking about running, as opposed to someone saying they are thinking about running because they are pitching a reality show called “Political Apprentice.”

But we can think of reasons why he might not run, too. Here are three:

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  1. He’s donated money to Democrats fairly often, and recently. He gave $10,000 to the Democratic Committee of New York State last fall, for instance, according to FEC records. He gave $2,400 to Senate majority leader Harry Reid in 2009, and he’s often donated to New York’s own senior Democratic senator, Chuck Schumer. Now, that’s probably good business for a rich guy who lives in New York, but opponents in GOP primaries will point to it as evidence he’s not a real Republican.
  2. His poll numbers aren’t great. Like Sarah Palin, Trump is divisive – people love him or hate him, with little middle ground. There aren’t good recent numbers on this, so things may have changed. But in a 2007 Gallup poll 47 percent of respondents said they had an unfavorable view of him, and only 41 percent had a favorable view. High unfavorables are very difficult for politicians to overcome.
  3. He’s talking about raising prices for US consumers. That’s not the way he puts it, of course – but on CNN Wednesday night Trump told Piers Morgan that he’d slap a 25 percent tariff on Chinese goods to get them to revalue their currency. In economic theory, which we’re sure Trump learned when he went to Wharton School of Business, producer costs quickly get passed to consumers. What happens if China decides to stick to its guns? The price of everything in Walmart goes up by one-fourth and President Trump has a big problem on his hands.

The Top 10 political quotes of 2010

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