Donald Trump announced Wednesday that he will form a presidential exploratory committee in anticipation of joining the race for the 2016 Republican nomination.
"I am the only one who can make America truly great again," the Republican businessman and reality television star declared in a statement announcing the move.
While a step short of a formal campaign launch, the formation of an exploratory allows him to begin raising money and hire staff as he weighs a White House bid. Trump said he's already hired political aides in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, which host the first three contests on the presidential nominating calendar.
"I have a great love for our country, but it is a country that is in serious trouble," Trump said in a wide-ranging statement that called for rebuilding the nation's infrastructure, improving border security, strengthening the military and improving the economy. "Americans deserve better than what they get from their politicians who are all talk and no action."
Trump has decided not to renew his arrangement with NBC for the television reality series "The Celebrity Apprentice," Corey Lewandowski, a senior aide to Trump, said Wednesday. Producer Mark Burnett had telephoned Trump to ask that he take on another season, but Trump declined.
Lewandowski, brought on board in February as his senior political adviser. "Nobody in the history of television has turned down a renewal. But Mr. Trump can do that."
Trump, a wealthy businessman, investor and television personality, has established a reputation as a critic of the political establishment.
In addition to Lewandowski, a New Hampshire resident and former director of voter registration at Americans for Prosperity, Trump has hired staff to operate in key Republican primary states like Iowa and South Carolina. He also has political advisers based in New York.
While in New Hampshire on Thursday, Trump will meet with veterans and members of the business community. He is set to talk to the media before an early evening gathering at the home of Republican state Rep. Steve Stepanek.
Trump is also scheduled to address the New Hampshire Republican Party's "First in the Nation" leadership summit on April 17-18 in Nashua, the New Hampshire Union Leader reported.
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