Celebrity hotelier Donald Trump officially announced his campaign for president on Tuesday, promising to restore America's standing in the world in a rambling speech that strongly resembled performance art.
"Our country needs a truly great leader," the reality TV star told supporters gathered at Trump Tower in New York City. "We need a leader that wrote The Art of the Deal," he added, making sure to mention his book. "We need a leader that can bring back our jobs, bring back our manufacturing, bring back our military and take care of our vets."
Entering the stage via escalator -- one of the most unusual entrances in the history of presidential announcements -- Trump eschewed his prepared remarks and launched into a long-winded tirade against just about everybody: President Barack Obama, Democrats, Republicans and multiple foreign nations.
"I beat China all the time. All the time," he boasted.
Addressing the cost and problems with the administration's health care reform website, Trump crowed that his business background would have aided the government greatly.
"I have so many websites, I have them all over the place," he said.
Obama's golf hobby, which Trump frequently derides, also acted as a perfect plug for his extensive golf courses.
"He might be on one of my courses; I have some of the best courses in the world," he said.
Scanning across the assembled crowd of supporters, some of whom frequently cheered the newly declared candidate on, Trump again bragged: "This is beyond anybody's expectations. There's been no crowd like this."
At one point, Trump held up a sheet of paper and read off his net worth ($10 billion, according to his campaign). But he assured the audience he wasn't doing so merely "to brag."
Trump's speech included some populist proposals, too -- proposals that could create problems for his fellow Republican rivals down the road.
"Let's save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security without cuts," Trump said, because "now many of these candidates want to cut it."
The real-estate mogul has openly flirted with throwing his hat into the ring for years. In 2012, he endorsed then-Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who was forced to appear in a surreal press conference to kiss the ring of New York's dealer-in-chief. But his overt skepticism of Obama's birthplace, among other off-the-wall remarks he regularly dishes out through his Twitter feed, will be sure to cause headaches for Republicans in the 2016 presidential primary.
In his speech, Trump announced that he would be meeting with three other Republican candidates in the next week. According to a CNN poll released last month, Trump is tied for 10th place among the 2016 GOP field, possibly guaranteeing him a spot in the first GOP debate in August.
"Sadly, the American dream is dead," Trump proclaimed, summing up a speech that ran almost an hour. "But if I get elected president, I will bring it back, bigger, and better than ever."