Donald Trump made the usual egotists of political sphere look like pikers Thursday in an electrifying speech before the Conservative Political Action Conference that drew cheers, boos, hoots and applause -- and saw the man know on TV as "The Donald" proclaim himself a holder of conservative values and a potential 2012 presidential contender.
"While I am not at this time a candidate for the presidency, I will decide by June," the wealthy New York businessman said, declaring himself fed up with the way America has become "a whipping post for the world."
"They are not treating us properly," he said. "The United States is becoming a laughing stock of the world... I deal with people from China. I deal with people from Mexico. They cannot believe what they are getting away with," he said.
Trump said he'd have some hesitation about running, as a successful businessman who has made many enemies along the way. But he also said that such hesitations on the part of other was what had led the U.S. to have the weak leadership it has today.
"People who have been in wars leave themselves open to criticism by the many they have beaten," he said, adding later: "Most very successful people don't want to be scrutinized or abused."
And Trump laid claim to the mantle of conservatism. "I am pro-life. Against gun control... I will fight to end Obamacare and replace it with something that makes sense to people in business and not bankrupt the country. If I decide to run, I will not be raising taxes. We will be taking in hundreds of billions of dollars from other countries that are screwing us ... and we'll rebuild our country so that we can be proud. Our country will be great again," he said.
Trump also couldn't resist the opportunity to tweak some of the people in the audience. "By the way, Ron Paul cannot get elected. I'm sorry," he said,to a mix of cheers and boos. "Honestly, he has just zero chance of getting elected."
Thumbnail image credit: AP Photo/Alex Brandon