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Monday, October 25, 1999 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Trump Leaves Republican Party, Too

The Associated Press

NEW YORK - In a prelude to a possible bid for the White House, real-estate billionaire Donald Trump quit the Republican Party today and registered as a member of the Reform Party's New York affiliate.

He filed his change-of-party papers with the Board of Elections as Pat Buchanan announced that he was bolting the GOP to seek the Reform Party's presidential nomination.

Trump said he plans to decide early next year whether to seek the Reform Party nomination, which will come with about $12 million in federal matching dollars this upcoming election.

Trump said in an earlier statement: "I am confident that if I choose to run I can beat Buchanan and be the strongest possible nominee for the Reform Party."

Trump, a lifelong Republican, registered as a member of the Independence Party, New York state's Reform affiliate.

If he does decide to run, Trump may have to work at his populist touch. In his biography "Trump: The Art of the Comeback," he says that he loathes shaking hands, because hands are crawling with germs.

Trump made billions in the New York real-estate boom of the 1980s and lost most of it in the bust of the early 1990s. He bounced back, and his fortune is estimated at $1.6 billion.

He said recently that one issue he must consider is whether people will vote for him, even though he has been through two very public divorces. "If I think that that is going to be a great impediment, I'm not going to bother," he said.

Since divorcing Marla Maples, the woman who ended his first marriage to Ivana Trump, Donald Trump appears in gossip pages with a rotating array of models on his arm.

On women in general, Trump said: "They're smart; they're cunning; they're killers in many respects. I see women as so tough they make us (men) wince."

He has said talk-show host Oprah Winfrey would be an ideal running mate.

Trump casts himself as a middle-of-the-road politician who would offer tax cuts to the middle class, ban unregulated campaign donations called "soft money" and negotiate tougher trade deals.

"The Republican Party has just moved too far to the extreme right. The Democrats are too far to the left. I believe the Reform Party can be the true centrist party. And that's very much in line with my thinking," said in a recent interview.

Information from Reuters is included in this report.

Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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