WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Real estate mogul and TV personality Donald Trump took the first steps on Wednesday toward launching a 2016 presidential campaign, a sign the businessman may jump into the Republican race after publicly considering it in years past.
Trump said he had formed an exploratory committee to determine whether to run, and that he had hired staff in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Those states will be the first to hold Republican and Democratic presidential nominating contests early next year.
In a telephone interview with Reuters, Trump said he would put his job creation record up against anyone, including the dozen or so Republicans who are considering a White House run in 2016.
“I have been dealing with politicians all my life,” he said from New York. “They’re all talk and no action, and that’s the way it is.”
Trump, known by the nickname “The Donald,” said that as president he would spur job creation, for example, by cracking down on what he called China’s manipulation of its currency, a practice he said that lately has been taken up by Japan.
The United States for years has attempted to persuade Beijing to halt a practice that Washington says China uses to depress the price of its exports.
“I would be extremely strong on the devaluation of their currency,” he said.
Trump also said he would increase security along the U.S.-Mexican border.
Trump, who owns several hotels and hosts the reality show “The Apprentice” on NBC, has toyed with running before but has indicated that this time he is serious about considering it.
A growing list of Republicans is weighing White House runs, including Florida Senator Marco Rubio, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Trump has garnered attention for his sharp criticism of President Barack Obama’s policies. But he also ruffled feathers with discredited questions over whether Obama was born in the United States, which led to Obama releasing his long-form birth certificate to end the controversy.
Trump will not renew his contract for “The Apprentice” while he explores running, according to The New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper. Trump is to go to New Hampshire Thursday to meet with business owners and veterans.
Reporting by Steve Holland and Emily Stephenson; Editing by Susan Heavey, Bernadette Baum and James Dalgleish