Donald Trump hints at presidential ambition

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The Independent Online

US tycoon Donald Trump hinted today that he could run for the American presidency.

The flamboyant businessman spoke out after he was presented with an honorary degree by a Scottish university.

Mr Trump was given the honorary award of Doctor of Business Administration at Robert Gordon University (RGU) in Aberdeen today.

The American billionaire is currently building a £750 million luxury golf development on the Menie estate on the Aberdeenshire coast.

But afterwards he told a press conference he may be in the running for another job.

Mr Trump hinted he could run for US president - but added that he had not yet made a final decision.

He said: "A lot of people have asked me to do it and until recently I would have no interest.

"And that's not only having to do with our country but it's having to do with your country.

"There's been a lot of talk about me running and a lot of people want me to run, but I have not decided."

He also said it was "too early" to say who his potential running mate could be, and laughed when former Republican candidate for vice-president Sarah Palin was suggested.

Mr Trump said current US President Barack Obama was "having a very hard time".

The businessman went on: "I think he would be the first to admit that things have not been easy for him.

"The US is a great country and it's not doing as well as it should. It could be doing much better and I think, with proper leadership, it would do unbelievably well."

Mr Trump also said his firm's golf development in the north-east of Scotland was "on perfect schedule".

Construction started in July after Aberdeenshire Council granted full planning permission to Trump International, with the work scheduled for completion in 2012.

He said the project was "coming out better than anything we imagined, even in our wildest dreams", adding: "It's going to be spectacular."

Sir Ian Wood CBE, the chancellor of RGU, earlier hailed the tycoon's "visionary world-class golf investment", which he said would "put Scotland on the world golfing map".

Mr Trump's project, however, has been opposed by the Tripping Up Trump group, which wants to stop the local council from serving compulsory purchase orders on families and others who own land on parts of the site.

But today, as he presented Mr Trump with his honorary degree, Sir Ian said the development had been "widely welcomed" by people in the area and was only opposed by a "small vocal minority".

The university chancellor told the US tycoon: "Dr Trump, you see the north-east of Scotland as the home for your visionary world-class golf investment which, in spite of a small vocal minority, is widely welcomed by the people of the north-east of Scotland, by RGU and by our students.

"Your venture capitalises on Scotland's great golfing history and our beautiful scenery and coastline to produce a major international attraction which will put Scotland on the world golfing map."

The university chose to honour Mr Trump in recognition of his business acumen, entrepreneurial vision and the long-term future his company is planning in the north-east of Scotland.

But the decision sparked an angry reaction from some and Dr David Kennedy, a former principal of RGU, recently handed back his own honorary degree in protest.

Dr Kennedy, a member of Tripping Up Trump, said he was "shocked and appalled" by the honour.

He added: "Mr Trump is simply not a suitable person to be given an honorary degree and he should not be held up as an example of how to conduct business."

However Mr Trump said he had "never heard" of Dr Kennedy, adding that no protesters were at the ceremony today.

The businessman said: "I heard there was going to be a big protest today and no-one showed up."

He also revealed his company was "still not any closer" to resolving the dispute with those people who are refusing to sell him their land.

He said: "We've been very nice, we have tried to be very nice.

"We just last night found out that one of them seems to have built his house on our land. We were doing a survey and one person actually has a big chunk of their house on our land."