Donald Trump has a history of making loud noises about running for president, only to quiet down after a beneficial flood of publicity. But this year could be different, say Maggie Haberman and Ben Smith at Politico. Trump actually "appears likely to launch a formal presidential campaign, hire staff, shake hands in Iowa, participate in debates — in short, run for president." NBC, which broadcasts Trump's Celebrity Apprentice, isn't buying it. But with his money, name recognition, and recent strength in the polls, some Republicans are taking the real estate mogul seriously. Is Trump taking this whole presidential run thing seriously, too?

The Republican establishment thinks he's for real: Trump's political ascendance "has been as fast as its has been shocking," says Chris Cillizza in The Washington Post. And the surest sign that he's "gaining traction" is that other Republicans have started attacking him. Trump would be a "a deep-pocketed enemy," and now that he's making serious moves to compete, "the best case scenario for 2012 candidates not named Trump is that he loses interest in the race."
"Attacking Donald Trump"

Trump is joking, intentionally or not: It doesn't really matter if Trump is serious, says Jonathan Chait in The New Republic. Maybe "his campaign is not a joke in the sense of Trump being in on it, but it is a joke in the sense that his entire career is a joke." Given his past support for Canadian-style health care, disdain for George W. Bush, and kind words for President Obama, he could only be the GOP nominee in a world where the Republican Party as we know it "ceases to exist."
"Is Donald Trump joking?"

Don't underestimate his appeal: Nobody but Trump knows how serious he is about running, says Scott Paul at Politico. "But I do know this: The media and punditry are underestimating his appeal to middle America," and Trump isn't. Midwesterners love that he "speaks his mind," and voters of all parties are "hungry for someone who says, 'Enough!' to the outsourced jobs and debt we send to China." So far, Trump's the only one banging that drum.
"Just how serious is Donald Trump for president?"