NEW YORK — Billionaire businessman Donald Trump has changed his voter registration in New York state from Republican to unaffiliated to preserve his option of running for president as an independent.
Michael Cohen, special counsel to Trump, said Friday that Trump could enter the race if Republicans fail to nominate a candidate who the real estate mogul believes can defeat President Barack Obama.Video: You’re hired? Gingrich visits Trump (on this page)
Cohen told to NBC News that Trump would consider his position "after the finale of 'The Apprentice' in May of 2012 if he is not satisfied with the Republican nominee for president." (Msnbc.com is a joint venture of NBC Universal and Microsoft. "The Apprentice" is broadcast on NBC.)
Cohen said that Trump's decision would be fast, as he needed to begin the process to get his name on the ballot in all 50 states.Story: GOP: Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry fail to qualify for Virginia primary
He told NBC News that Trump already has a game plan, as well as individuals identified in states to help begin the process of getting him on the ballot.
Trump filed his voter registration paperwork Thursday, Cohen added.
He said Trump probably would use his substantial wealth to even the playing field with Obama's re-election campaign.Video: Trump: I’d consider an independent run (on this page)
The move was disclosed 10 days after Trump announced he would not moderate a planned debate among 2012 Republican presidential candidates. All but two candidates declined to participate in Trump's proposed event.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Texas Governor Rick Perry and U.S. Representatives Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann had said they would not attend the planned Trump-moderated debate. Former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Senator Rick Santorum had agreed to take part.
NBC News, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this story.