Donald Trump: Political Sideshow or The Real Deal?

Some Republicans question Trump's legitimacy as he ascends in national polls

WASHINGTON, April 16, 2011 -- Donald Trump appeared at a rally in Boca Raton, Fla., today, giving the Tea Party faithful the anti-Obama message they wanted to hear.

"Our current president," Trump said, amid booing from the crowd. "They all want me to say, 'You're fired.'"

Ever since Trump appealed to the "birther" movement by pushing President Obama to reveal his birth certificate, the real estate mogul has seen his poll numbers rise, elevating him to the top of the list of potential Republican candidates.

The latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey shows Trump tied at 19 percent with former Arkansas and 2008 Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.

"I don't even know if Donald Trump believes this stuff, but it's playing well," John Avlon, a columnist for "The Daily Beast," told ABC News. "I think that actually should scare the hell out of the Republican party right now."

As Trump ascends to lead the presidential contender pack, some Republicans worry Trump might be more of a political sideshow than a legitimate candidate. For two consecutive days, Karl Rove, former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff for President George W. Bush, went on the attack, calling Trump a "joke candidate."

"If you start off the campaign saying my number one priority is to get the birth certificate because I don't think he was born in Hawaii, that does not give you the right launching point," Rove said today on Fox News.

The reality TV star, whose catchphrase "You're fired," infiltrated the American lexicon, has indicated he may make an announcement regarding a future presidential run on the season finale of his show, "The Apprentice," in May, but some question whether this may be a serious bid or simply a ploy to gain more media attention.

"Donald Trump's flirtation with a presidential campaign is all about Donald Trump," Todd Harris, a Republican strategist, said. "When you want to launch or make an announcement to run for the highest office in the land, if not the most important position in the world, if you want to do that on your reality TV show, it shows a lack of seriousness and frankly a disrespect for the office that he's pretending to want to seek."

But while some mainstream Republicans are labeling him a political sideshow, others think he could be the real deal.

At the rally in Florida today, the Tea Party crowd roared when Trump laid out his pro-life and anti-gun control message. Trump vowed to repeal "Obamacare" and stressed the importance of creating and keeping jobs in America.

"If I decided to run and if I win, I will not be raising taxes but will be taking in billions of dollars from other countries and will be creating vast numbers of productive jobs," Trump said.

Trump equated the country's infrastructure to that of a third world country along with criticizing the administration's foreign relation positions in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, and Trump railed on China for taking away money and jobs from hardworking Americans.

Throughout his speech, Trump hammered on Obama's agenda, calling him the "worst president in the history of the United States." Trump took an additional swipe at former President George W. Bush, blaming the 43rd president for facilitating Obama's election.

"Whether you like him or not, George Bush gave us Obama, and I'm not happy about it," Trump said. "We have a disaster on our hands."

But one issue that abounded throughout Trump's speech -- his belief that he possesses the qualities necessary to lead a country he continually portrayed as on the decline.

"Considering the shape the United States is in now, we need a competitive and highly competent person to deal with what's going on," Trump said. "Over the years, I've participated with people like this in many battles and have come out almost always as the victor."