LOS ANGELES – Donald Trump, the man none of the pundits took seriously as a presidential candidate, is sitting comfortably in second place, on the shoulder of the leader, in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, according to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.
Trump is tied at 17 percent with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and just behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at 21 percent among Republican primary voters, according to the poll published Thursday.
The rise of Trump, a television personality, wealthy businessman, real-estate agent, developer and owner of beauty pageants, is a testament to the power of media publicity and his pugnacious personality, as well as to the weakness of the Republican field of at least a dozen possible presidential aspirants.
Most polls show an upper echelon of about four serious contenders, including Romney, Huckabee, former Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, though none has been able to break away. Trump was nestled in the second tier.
But that was before he went on the media offensive, relaunching questions about whether President Barack Obama was born in Hawaii or outside of the United States, making him constitutionally ineligible to be president. Most people, including Republicans, agree that Obama has proved that he was born in Hawaii by releasing birth documents. But that has not stopped the issue from continuing to have traction, particularly among the more conservative of the Republicans.