Published January 03, 2006
Megabuilder and late-blooming TV star Donald Trump flatly ruled out running for governor this year — but hinted he may go for president in 2008.
Trump, in a phone call to The Post from his oceanside Palm Beach estate, Mar-a-Lago, declared, "I'm not going to run for governor because I'm having too much fun doing what I'm doing now.
"I'm the largest builder in New York, I'm building things all over the country, I have one of the top shows on television. It's a little hard to leave all of that."
Trump, a Republican, said he had been "inundated with calls" from GOP leaders since state Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno (R-Rensselaer) suggested last week that "The Apprentice" star might run for governor.
Trump, 59, called Bruno "a great guy" and a "longtime friend," and said Bruno's hint was "a great honor."
But while The Donald repeatedly ruled out a race for statewide office, he strongly suggested he was interested in entering the national political arena in 2008.
Trump, who considered an independent run for president in 2000, pointedly noted that his decision not to run governor this year "doesn't preclude me from doing something [political] in the future."
He then repeatedly ducked questions on whether he would consider running for the White House, repeating that he's too busy for electoral politics.
But a political figure close to Trump told The Post, "Donald is definitely interested in running for president in 2008, possibly as an independent candidate."
Trump also said there's a chance he could support Democrat Attorney General Eliot Spitzer for governor, saying, "He's done an amazing job."
Meanwhile, Republican insiders said Bruno never expected Trump to run for governor and proposed his name only in hopes of pressuring Rochester billionaire Tom Golisano to make up his mind about doing so.
Golisano, a newly minted Republican who has run three times as an independent candidate for governor, has said he'll decide sometime this month whether to seek the GOP's gubernatorial nomination.