- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 17, 2011

Donald Trump isn’t officially in the Republican presidential sweepstakes yet, but he’s easily dominating the GOP stage — taking another swipe over the weekend at would-be rival Mitt Romney, panning President Obama’s budget speech and drawing a big crowd at a tea party rally in Boca Raton, Fla.

“Whether you like him or not, George Bush gave us Obama. And I’m not happy about it. We have a disaster on our hands. We have a man, right now, that almost certainly will go down as the worst president in the history of the United States,” the New York real estate magnate and reality show star told tea partyers on Saturday.

On Sunday, he brushed aside comparisons with Mr. Romney, whose bid for the Republican presidential nomination is predicated in large part on his business experience and acumen. Mr. Romney also served as Massachusetts governor.

“My net worth is many, many, many times Mitt Romney,” the billionaire developer told CNN on “State of the Union.” He described multimillionaire Mr. Romney, one of the richest men in the field of potential candidates, as “a small-business guy.”

Before serving as governor, Mr. Romney was a successful business executive, helping to launch the Staples office supply chain. He spent more than $40 million of his own cash in an unsuccessful bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.

Mr. Trump has said he would spend as much as $600 million of his own fortune on a presidential run.

During the same CNN interview, Mr. Trump said Mr. Obama has been outmaneuvered on the international stage by China and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

“It’s the messenger,” he said. “Obama is not the right messenger. We are not a respected nation anymore. The world is laughing at us. You tell OPEC, ‘Fellows, that price is going down.’ Let me tell you, it will go down if you say it properly,” he told host Candy Crowley.

Mr. Trump has leapfrogged to the top of polls of Republican voters since he began talking about the possibility of a presidential run in February, grabbing the spotlight from more conventional Republican politicians with a daily blitz of talk radio, cable news and personal appearances.

Unlike most in the Republican field, he’s embraced the “birther movement,” despite repeated assurances from Hawaiian state officials, news organizations and even many leading Republicans that there are no questions about the authenticity of Mr. Obama’s birth certificate.

Saturday’s appearance at the tea party rally in Florida marked Mr. Trump’s first stump-style speech since he made an unexpected appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington two months ago.

“If I run and win, our country will be respected again and China, OPEC, and all of the many nations ripping off this great country of ours will be dealt with very, very differently,” he told the crowd, which some news reports estimated in the thousands.

Mr. Trump, who has never held public office, said he will decide whether to run before June.