Just weeks after stepping out of the 2012 presidential ring and one day after a Times Square pizza date with Sarah Palin, Donald Trump said Wednesday that he may still get into the race.
“If I’m not happy with what I see, I could very easily change my mind,” the real-estate-mogul-turned-reality-TV-star said on Fox and Friends about his decision to return to The Apprentice rather than adorn the Republican primary ballot. “And so far I’m not seeing what this country needs. I’m not knocking any one of them in particular, but I’m just not seeing what this country needs. I’m also not seeing a person that’s going to get elected.”
(PICTURES: Meet the 2012 GOP presidential hopefuls)
That’s not to say that Palin—who invited Trump to meet with her as her pseudo-campaign bus tour swung through New York City—isn’t “what this country needs,” from Trump’s vantage point. “I asked her frankly, ‘Are you going to be running?’ And I’m not sure she knows herself,” Trump said.
Though Trump indicated that a Palin-Trump or Trump-Palin ticket isn’t in the cards, he commended the 2008 vice presidential nominee for being “passionate about what’s going on and what’s going wrong, and she picked up on my theme of China, and a lot of people don’t pick up on it.” He also claimed the former governor “would like me to get back in.”
Trump’s rendezvous with Palin isn’t the first time he’s courted a lady from the GOP presidential circle: In April, he met with Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., in New York City at his request after being impressed by her tea-party-centric response to President Obama’s State of the Union address, a source close to Bachmann tells National Journal. But asked about Bachmann on Wednesday, Trump reiterated that he’s “not seeing what this country needs” in the current pool of contenders.
On one hand, Trump holds the power to bestow what would inevitably be a highly publicized (albeit controversial) endorsement; on the other, he says that in 11 months, when The Apprentice wraps, he himself could run “as an independent”—a possibility he has teased in elections past.
He’ll have to make up his mind soon. Palin told reporters on Tuesday that she still has “a lot of time” to make a decision; Bachmann, meanwhile, told WLS radio in Chicago on Wednesday morning that she’ll be announcing her decision (all signs point to yes, according to sources close to her campaign) in Waterloo, Iowa, “in just a few weeks.”