Could Donald Trump reenter the presidential race?

During a visit to Panama to inaugurate the first Trump hotel and tower outside the US, real estate mogul Donald Trump called President Ricardo Martinelli an example for Washington.

Arnulfo Franco/AP
US tycoon Donald Trump, center, his son Donald Trump Jr., left, and Panama's President Ricardo Martinelli cut the ribbon at the inauguration ceremony of the Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower in Panama City on Wednesday.

Donald Trump’s decision to drop out of the 2012 presidential race may be as ephemeral as NFL quarterback Brett Favre’s decision to throw in the towel in 2008.

Like Mr. Favre, who was back on the gridiron playing for a different team just months after his teary farewell from football three years ago, Mr. Trump also appears to be considering suiting up to get back in the game – only this time as an independent.

“It was not an easy decision for me [to drop out of the Republican primary race in May], but I think that it will be an easy decision [to return to the campaign] if the Republicans choose the wrong candidate and if the economy is bad. I think it will be a really easy decision for me to make,” Trump told the Monitor in an interview in Panama City, shortly after inaugurating the Trump Ocean Club, the first Trump hotel and tower outside the United States.

If “The Donald” feels the time is right to get back in the race, look for him to make the announcement on the next season of his reality TV show The Apprentice – his primetime soapbox.

Trump says the “pressure was incredible” for him to announce his candidacy during last season. “They just wanted me to do it so badly,” he says. But he admits it’s still a possibility. “We have another season of the Apprentice coming up,” he says.

Trump says he thinks his “celebrity status would greatly help” in his possible bid for the presidency.

It might not hurt the show's ratings, either. In April the show received a ratings bump as viewers tuned in in anticipation of presidential bid talk.

And while that larger-than-life celebrity personality is familiar to reality show viewers worldwide, those seeking insight to the kind of president Trump would be might be better informed by watching the nightly news here in Panama.

During his trip to the Central American country this week, Trump repeatedly lauded Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli as a “great businessman” and a “great president.”

He said Mr. Martinelli’s corporate approach to running Panama would be a good model to emulate in Washington.

“Frankly, we need some of that in the United States,” Trump says of Martinelli’s political style. “That’s why the United States is doing so poorly, because it’s not being run properly; it’s not being run as a businessman would [run it].”

Though Martinelli has been criticized by Panama’s political opposition and members of civil society as a ruthless, undemocratic, and intolerant leader who has consolidated power under a capricious style of rule, Trump fondly calls him “a businessman with heart.”

Under Martinelli's watch during the past two years, Panama has continued to have one of the world's fastest-growing economies.

Martinelli got upset with Trump earlier this year after the real estate mogul told CNN that the US had “stupidly” handed over the Panama Canal “in exchange for nothing.” But Trump later clarified that he was criticizing the US, not Panama. That explanation was good enough to calm Martinelli.

On Wednesday, there was no sign of tensions between the two men. Instead, the Panamanian president toured the new hotel with Trump, invited him to go sport fishing and praised him for his Midas touch.

Cooed Martinelli to Trump: “Everything you touch turns to gold.”

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