A lot of people are taking this New Hampshire Union Leader story seriously, but I'm not buying it:
Donald Trump will launch a presidential exploratory committee Wednesday, the eve of the business mogul’s return to New Hampshire.
A senior adviser tells the New Hampshire Union Leader that Trump will not be renewing his contract with NBC for the reality television “Apprentice” series....
Trump has flirted with running for President before, but his moves ahead of 2016 are far more concrete.
He has a team of political advisers based in New York and he has hired staff in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Senior political adviser Corey Lewandowski, who is a Granite Stater, was hired in February....
Really? He's going to run? He's going to run when a late-January Bloomberg/Des Moines Register poll of Iowa Republicans had him tied for 15th place at 1%, behind both "Not Sure" and "Uncommitted" (yes, even broken out, they both beat him), and his unfavorable rating was a mind-boggling 68%?
But ... but ... he's quitting The Apprentice! Well, according to Politico's Dylan Byers, maybe he isn't:
NBC Entertainment is planning to go ahead with production of Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice," Season 15, despite the fact that the real estate mogul is reportedly dropping the show in order to form a presidential exploratory committee.
"The show has been picked up for another season, production dates TBD," an NBC Entertainment source told the On Media blog.
The decision to go ahead with the renewal, which was announced last month, suggests that NBC Entertainment executives aren't putting much stock in Trump's presidential bid. Trump has teased the idea of a presidential run multiple times, but never actually followed through....
But ... he's forming an exploratory committee! Well, he'd hardly be the first to form an exploratory committee and then withdraw. In 2008, Evan Bayh formed a presidential exploratory committee for 2008; he dropped out of the Democratic race thirteen days later. In that same election cycle, on the Republican side, Sam Brownback, Tom Tancredo, Tommy Thompson, former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore, and businessman John Cox all started exploratory committees, then dropped out before the Iowa caucuses. And if you're thinking that those candidates aren't comparable because none of them started an exploratory committee with the intention of dropping out early, there's another example from 2012: Stephen Colbert, who formed a real presidential exploratory committee in 2011, with real Federal Election Commission filings, and terminated it in early 2012.
Trump's problem is that nearly everyone is on to his act, so he feels he has to fake it more convincingly. So here's what I think will happen: Trump will stay in the race until he can claim a monstrous insult that compels him to quit, as, y'know, a matter of honor. A possibility: Reince Priebus will say that Trump shouldn't count on being invited to the official debates, because he'll need to cross a certain threshold in the polls. That would be enough of an excuse for Trump to say that he wants to run for the GOP nomination, but the party is unfair and undemocratic and ruled by party bosses who want to nominate another establishment loser rather than Donald Trump, the People's Choice! Trump doesn't want to quit -- but he's not going to take that! He's out! ... Oh, but he still intends to be the next president, and he's exploring the possibility of an independent run! No, seriously! Stay tuned!
Meanwhile, he'll start filming the next season of The Apprentice. His idiot fans will believe the evil system conspired to prevent him from being president. The rest of us will just try to forget all of this ever happened.
Until the 2020 race, when his fans and our ridiculous media will fall for this stunt all over again.
UPDATE: Philip Bump explains the meaninglessness of this Trump gesture in greater detail.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog