Mardell: Donald Trump forgoes White House bid

Donald Trump in an April file photo Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Trump said he had no doubt he could win the White House

President Trump had such a ring to it, conjuring images of a blunt, irascible leader. A joy to headline writers: The Last Trump. Diamonds are Trump's.

But we can no longer even fantasise about Donald Trump in the Oval Office.

The lunatic fringe will not be represented in the Republican race. I am, of course, talking about his hair, not his politics.

Mr Trump has announced he is not going to be standing as a Republican candidate for president.

It's not because the billionaire property developer-turned-TV star thought he was going to lose, mind you.

He says in his statement: "I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and ultimately, the general election. I have spent the past several months unofficially campaigning and recognize that running for public office cannot be done half-heartedly. Ultimately, however, business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector."

Cynics had said all along that this was all about promoting his TV show, Celebrity Apprentice.

But while his poll ratings were high, his credibility was not.

Commentators scorned his remarks about the US owning Iraqi oil, how he would dictate to China and above all, his suggestions that questioning whether Mr Obama was born on US soil was a legitimate subject for political debate.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Thin skin: Mr Trump seemed neither to expect nor enjoy the mockery he took at a recent gala

It did, of course, force the White House into issuing the president's full birth certificate, but it didn't make him more palatable.

Then there was the hair.

He didn't enjoy the mockery dumped on him during the White House Correspondent's Association dinner and more importantly, he didn't seem to expect it.

Politicians develop a tough hide. They know their serious propositions and positions will be ignored by a media that favours highlighting foibles and folly.

At any rate he's out. The field is beginning to clear. The Donald's declaration of non-intent follows Mike Huckabee's at the weekend.

The former Arkansas governor portrayed it as a deeply personal decision, taken after much praying.

"When I am with people encouraging me to run, it's easy to feel the strength of their partnership and commitment to help me to the finish line," Mr Huckabee said.

"Only when I was alone, in quiet and reflective moments did I have not only clarity, but an inexplicable inner peace - a peace that exceeds human understanding. All the factors say go, but my heart says no. And that is the decision I have made and in it have finally found resolution."

Both men can now stand back and both will have another moment of glory when they anoint someone who does stay in the narrowing race.

We know about Newt. Ron Paul is in.

We are waiting to hear officially from Jon Huntsman, Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney, but I've no doubt they'll run. Mitch Daniels is less of a certainty.

Who will be next to pull their hat out of the ring. Sarah Palin perhaps?