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Donald Trump takes early step to run as Republican presidential candidate

US businessman Donald Trump has announced he may enter the fray to run as a Republican candidate for the White House. Trump said he had assembled an "exploratory committee" to weigh up his chances.

Real estate tycoon and reality TV celebrity Trump said on Wednesday that he already had political aides in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina - the states set to hold the first presidential nominating contests.

The 68-year-old, known for his outspoken views on the policies of US President Barack Obama, particularly

immigration

, delivered a wide-ranging speech that touched on themes including border security, military spending and the economy.

"We have lost the respect of the entire world," Trump said in the statement. "I am the only one who can make America truly great again!"

"I have a great love for our country, but it is a country that is in serious trouble," Trump.

The 68-year-old said he had formed a presidential exploratory committee to explore the possibility of his entering the race. Trump, who made his fortune in real estate and owns several hotels, has publicly considered running in previous campaigns, without taking any formal steps to do so.

Growing list of candidates

Other possible contenders for the Republican candidacy include Florida Senator Marco Rubio, former

Florida Governor Jeb Bush

and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.

The New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper said Trump would not be renewing his contract with the television show "The Apprentice" while he considered the candidacy. Trump said in the statement that he would travel to New Hampshire to meet business owners and military veterans.

Trump has in the past advocated discredited conspiracy theories about Obama, alleging that he was not born in the US and was, therefore, ineligible to serve as president.

The billionaire declared in January that both the Republicans' 2012 candidate Mitt Romney and Bush should not be allowed to run. "You just can't have those two," Trump had said. Days later,

Romney said he would not stand

.

If successful, Trump would possibly stand against Democratic nomination favorite Hillary Clinton, who has still not formally announced her candidacy.

rc/jil (dpa, Reuters)

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